- For once, a state has some good news about teacher shortages: The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that, for the first time in 10 years, the state’s public schools are seeing an increase in teachers entering the field — almost 450 over last year’s number of new teachers.
- Arkansas Education Commissioner Johnny Key is attributing the growth to multiple efforts to promote the teaching profession, including those of the state’s Teachers of the Year, the state education agency and higher education institutions. Key predicts that the state will begin to see fewer requests from school districts for waivers from teacher licensing regulations.
- While there are multiple subject areas in which shortages have been identified, the state’s Educator Provider Quality Report showed that the gaps between the number of teachers needed and those available are getting smaller, the article says.
With multiple teacher walkouts within the past several months — over issues such as pay and education funding levels — it’s understandable that fewer young people have been entering the teaching profession in recent years. The walkouts also come after years of frustration over high-stakes testing, rhetoric viewed as teacher-bashing, and ideological battles over charters and district schools. A 2016 survey conducted by the University of California Los Angeles, for example, showed that the percentage of freshmen majoring in education had been steadily dropping.
That’s why efforts have increased to promote the teaching profession as a rewarding career that offers job security, good benefits and opportunities for growth. Last year, for example, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing provided funding to create the California Center on Teaching Careers, which works to better match teachers with districts and positions that fit their interests. And the Tennessee State Collaborative on Reforming Education launched Teach Today, Change Tomorrow, a campaign that features testimonials from teachers and describes different pathways into teaching. Last month, Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen even visited schools to urge students to consider teaching.
The Palo Alto, Calif.-based Learning Policy Institute, which has released several reports on teacher shortages in recent years, concludes that while salaries certainly influence young people’s decision to enter teaching, providing them with a strong preparation program, reducing the costs of teacher education, providing strong early career support, and improving working conditions improve the chances they will stay in the profession.