The education system in the United States of America has been having a couple of issues that are known to both the citizens and the government. One of the critical issues facing the education sector is the widespread shortage of teachers in American schools. The department of education in America maintains the list of each state that has a deficit but what is not known is the size of the shortage and the factors leading to such shortages in schools. The nationwide shortage area list updated in 2016 indicates the states and schools that need to hire teachers and administrators because they are less than required. When state comparison of the shortage is made, there is a shocking trend because some subjects are affected more than others and this is the essential subjects.
The article gives an example of a study done in Arizona where there was a shortage of fewer than ten schools and less than 15 districts between 1990 and 1991. On the contrary, the numbers had risen between 2015 and 2016 and had become a statewide issue. There were shortages in various disciplines for instance in middle schools BLE and ESL teachers were needed. Similarly, foreign languages, math, special education, science, and reading were also required. Additionally, in the same period as Arizona, California had a shortage in K-12 in physical science, bilingual education and life sciences within 1990-1991 and in 2015-2016 there were statewide shortages in English, history, math, science and computer education. Shortage issues are not a new thing, but it is essential to work on it in the education system in America because the number of shortages is going up. The size of the deficit is not known because the numbers are not exact, but there is a rising concern that the gap might be increasing.
The norm is that teachers are always employed and they leave but in recent years the turnover has gone up, and there could be a new reason for the heightened turnover. Research indicates that teachers in public schools are more disappointed in recent years than in the past. A poll taken in 2013 shows that teacher satisfaction had reduced by 23% as compared to 2008 when the satisfaction level was 62%. From some of the issues raised is that some teachers feel stressed throughout the week, school reforms that have evaluated teachers from the point of standardized test score, inadequate funding, too many tests administered on students. Additionally, the reduced rate of collective bargaining power has also contributed to the high staff turnover. From the 2015 report on Arizona teacher's turnover has been high and the students are left with fewer teachers to attend to them. The reason behind teachers leaving is low pay coupled with less state funding. The high turnover could negatively affect Arizona because students will not be able to meet their full potential and as a result, the economic prosperity is concerned because there will be no workforce for the future.
Educators state that the reason why several teachers are leaving is that if different factors but the most common ones include low pay, too many tests, insufficient resources such as classrooms, inflexible and too little instructional timeline. Similarly, teachers also indicated that the go through unfair evaluation methods and lack of job protection form their employers. Similarly, the workload assigned to one teacher is too much and they pay is not equivalent to the amount of work done. Additionally qualified teachers are few, and this calls for training of more teachers in different subjects. Another reason that justifies teacher shortage in America is that certifications differ among states and as a result when teachers move to a different country they might not meet the criteria and therefore take much time before they get a job. It means that the teacher, in this case, cannot benefit both her new and former state. According to the report from a retired principal teacher, the shortage is affecting most countries and a solution need to sought because students suffer poor performance and it is one of the factors that retrogress states.
In some states like Indiana, teacher shortage is high as they are fleeing the country and it is approximated that between 2015 and 2016 a drop of 50% was realized. Similarly, in Oklahoma teachers also escape to other places to get a better paying job especially in bilingual education. Besides, the shortage is also attributed to low numbers of enrollment in teacher training schools and a result those who meet the criteria to teach become few in most states. Unlike other professions motivation given to teachers is low, and this justifies the reasons why most of them leave because they are not satisfied and they have nothing to motivate them. Although the shortage issue is not something that has come by surprise what is worrying is that the percentage gap of teacher shortage is widening and the reasons differ in different states.
Solutions to teacher shortage have been suggested, and they include; increasing the salaries paid to teachers and providing a special package to those with specialized roles and responsibilities, Similarly, those who are willing to work in high need areas should also be given a special reward package to motivate them. Additionally, adopting a system that involves teachers in school decision making can be of great benefit in retaining them because they will feel accommodated and their opinions valued. Another solution is creating a good quality induction program where new teachers are systematically introduced into the field while sufficient funding has been planned. It is because teachers who good reception form colleagues and get proper mentoring and less likely to leave. Moreover growing teachers especially in high poverty regions and district schools need to encourage graduates who are familiar with the culture and problems associated with the area through certifying them.
Also adopting strategies that reduce the number of students per class will also be helpful because the teachers will not be overburdened with the overwhelming number of students in one level. Besides, a reward system that helps in motivation all the teachers should be developed to make them satisfied and retain their jobs. Out of field teaching should also be discouraged and strategies that only accommodate trained and qualified teachers to be employed. It will help in meeting the student's needs according to the specialized field of the teacher. Teachers also complain of a lot of tests being administered to both the students and teachers and this makes them have too much workload which would have otherwise been reduced to create time for quality delivery of services. To solve this issue, reasonable numbers of tests should be administered to both groups for the students not to be overwhelmed and the teachers to have a good time to concentrate on teaching.
Furthermore, increasing funding in schools helps in improving the resources required by teachers and students. Resource shortage is one of the reasons why teachers also leave the job stations and when the issue is sorted out retaining them becomes more comfortable. There should be standard criteria for evaluating teachers so that in case of transfers they can be easily accommodated in other states. The teacher shortage possess long-term problems in the countries affected as they might have low workforce pool in future because of a small number of graduates.
In conclusion, it is important to note that teacher shortage in America has been a long time issue and it has not taken the government by surprise but what is most fascinating is that the gap of the deficit is widening from the statistics posted by Washington report. The number of deficiencies is not known, but it is approximated that it has increased leading to a lot of economic issues in the states affected. However, there are solutions that if implemented will help in reducing the rates of teacher shortage, for instance, increasing teacher salary, providing them with motivation packages, standardizing employment qualifications among states, rewarding those working in poverty areas with a higher box to encourage them to stay in these areas. The government should lay down a proper measure to curb teacher shortage for the sake of future economy of America.
Darling-Hammond, L., & Lieberman, A. (2013). Teacher education around the world: What can we learn from international practice?. In Teacher education around the world(pp. 165-183). Routledge.
Strauss. V (2015) The real reasons behind the U.S. teacher shortage retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2015/08/24/the-real-reasons-behind-the-u-s-teacher-shortage/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.2a4c1290d200Sutcher, L., Darling-Hammond, L., & Carver-Thomas, D. (2016).
A coming crisis in teaching? Teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the US. Learning Policy Institute. Retrieved from https://learningpolicyinstitute. org/product/coming-crisis-teaching.
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