There is currently a teacher shortage that is reaching critical levels across the state, and across the nation, that is hurting our children’s ability to learn. This, coupled with declining levels of interest in college students selecting education as a career, causes great concern for the future of our education and our workforce.
- In March 2018, according to the Florida Department of Education, Florida public schools had 1,629 vacancies (Alachua County currently has nine).
- This equates to approximately 150,000 Florida students without a regular classroom teacher this year.
- The same report projects that Florida will face 6,795 vacancies (215 in Alachua County) next year.
- According to a May 2017 study from researchers at the University of California in Los Angeles, “Only 4.6 percent of college freshmen planned to major in education, down from 10 percent in the 1970s.”
- According to a New York Post article from February 14, 2018, “Over the past decade, roughly 8 percent of American teachers left the profession.”
- In an Atlantic article from October 2013, Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania, summed up the issues:
“Respected, well-paid lines of work do not have shortages,” Ingersoll says. He adds that he is happy with his new career, but he would still be a high school history teacher had it not been for the lack of respect and low salary he experienced. For a lot of teachers I spoke with, this seems to be the common sentiment: If the overall attractiveness of teaching as a profession gets better, the best teachers will enter the profession, stay, and help increase the effectiveness of schools.
“To improve the quality of teaching,” Ingersoll says, you need to “improve the quality of the teaching job.” And, “If you really improve that job… you would attract good people and you would keep them.”
- The College Board asked: “What profession are you planning to pursue with your degree?” Only 1% of college students expressed an interest in becoming a teacher.
- According to Zippia, a website for recent grads looking for where to locate to start their careers, Florida is one of three states ranked as “the worst states to be a teacher in America.”
- According to a study from Wallethub, a personal finance web site, Florida ranks fifth from the bottom among states that are the worst to teach in.
- According to the U.S. Department of Education, enrollment in teacher preparation programs has been steadily decreasing since 2008 (down over 30% between 2008 and 2014). Enrollment decreased by nearly half for Florida teachers during the same time period.
According to exit interviews and research conducted by the Florida Education Association, as well as other groups, the following are among the steps that can be taken to address this issue:
- Focus on learning. Hire well-prepared teachers, and provide them with the resources they need to be successful.
- Allow more time for teaching, with less focus on paperwork and documentation that takes time away from instruction.
- Reduce high-stakes tests. Provide teachers with the flexibility and autonomy to assess students in a way that makes sense according to individual needs and does not take away instructional time.
- Provide competitive salaries. Florida’s teachers are currently being paid below national average.
- Provide more – and better – support for beginning teachers.
- Provide more job security for high quality teachers, and measure that quality based on authentic measurements that go beyond test scores.
Contact your state legislators today, to let them know you support teachers and want to see efforts made to increase attraction and retention.