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Where have all the teachers gone? Shortages reported.


A few years ago, we were discussing how newly minted teachers were finding a bleak job market in Georgia.

Now, some districts are facing a shortage of candidates. Clayton and DeKalb are among the districts still in search of staff. As is the case nationwide, the hardest-to-fill slots are math, science, foreign language and special education.

Kansas is dealing with a pronounced shortage of teachers, in part because of deep cuts to education. As the Huffington Post reported on Thursday: Last year, more than 2,320 educators in the state retired, compared to 1,260 in the 2011-2012 school year, according to data from the Kansas State Department of Education. At the same time, 654 teachers decided to leave the state last year, compared to just 399 in 2011-2012. Over 270 open teaching and non-teaching school staff positions were listed on the Kansas Education Employment Board's website as of Thursday afternoon.

The New York Times reported today some California districts are waiving credentialing requirements to get people in front of the classroom:

Across the country, districts are struggling with shortages of teachers, particularly in math, science and special education — a result of the layoffs of the recession years combined with an improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

At the same time, a growing number of English-language learners are entering public schools, yet it is increasingly difficult to find bilingual teachers. So schools are looking for applicants everywhere they can — whether out of state or out of country — and wooing candidates earlier and quicker. Some are even asking prospective teachers to train on the job, hiring novices still studying for their teaching credentials, with little, if any, classroom experience.

In Ed Week’s Teaching Now blog , Ross Brenneman has a good post on whether the teacher shortage is real – it is in some places and some content areas.

He writes:

If you graduated with a degree in computer science, would you rather join a multibillion-dollar enterprise  in San Francisco, or teach for a low-paying, rural South Dakota school? Well done to those of you who have chosen the latter. Even the best-paying states are unlikely to compete with the promise of tech startup money.

For the multitudes of educators who can abide a low salary, the other working conditions in a state can be a sticking point. The Independence, Mo., school district has started openly advertising its teaching vacancies across its state border with Kansas, where teacher unrest has led to what some have dubbed an "exodus."

Finally, there's the public perception of the teaching profession itself. Some recent surveys have found teachers unenthusiastic about their profession , and many teachers hesitate to recommend it .


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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.