The answer to a nationwide teacher shortage may be in technological advances like video conferencing, according to EdTech: Focus on K-12, which details how “state-of-the-art video tools, interactive whiteboards and personal devices” could allow qualified educators to be beamed into classrooms from anywhere in the country.
Gallup surveyed K-12 district superintendents recently and found that 67% of respondents said the number of new teacher candidates is declining, and nearly 40% of respondents said the quality of candidates was also falling.
Many schools already have video conferencing capabilities, according to EdTech, they just don’t know how to utilize the technology to expand their network of qualified teachers.
Recruiting and retaining qualified teachers is particularly difficult in rural communities and low-income urban schools. For these districts, technology's ability to "beam in" qualified teachers could be a real asset.
This could particularly be the case with computer, math and science teachers — subjects where the shortages have been the most felt.
There can, of course, be downsides to this sort of plan, as — like all technology — it is fallible and ultimately reliant on equipment working and internet connections being in place.
There's also the question of whether this is a short-term fix and more systemic solutions should be implemented to attract better, more specialized teachers — changes like better pay and support systems for educators.
According to a 2017 analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, 29 states provided less overall funding per student in the 2015 school year than in the 2008 school year. However, a stream of walkouts last school year has reignited the fight and yielded results.
A National Conference of State Legislatures report issued this summer detailed how teacher protests eventually led to West Virginia lawmakers signing off on a 5% pay increase, Oklahoma legislators increasing annual pay by $6,100 (though not raising total ed spending), and Arizona lawmakers increasing pay by 20% over three years.