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States Continue to Deal with Teacher Shortages

Schools across the nation are grappling with a shortage of teachers and it is forcing school districts to reassess the way they recruit and hire educators. These shortages are also forcing districts to examine ways to address high teacher attrition rates.

In Pensacola, the Escambia County School District is actively looking for teachers and have a few inklings as to what could be contributing to a 35 percent decrease in teacher education enrollments for the years, 2009-2014. 

Malcolm Thomas, Superintendent of the Escambia County School District, believes that "the teacher shortage can be attributed to more career options for college students," according to the Pensacola News Journal.

"Ten years ago, they came to me," Thomas said. "Now they can do anything. There are more options for young people than ever before."

Representatives from the Escambia County School District are planning to visit universities and colleges across the southeast as a part of its recruitment efforts. The aggressive hiring push also aims to have "more than 100 teachers in place...ahead of the traditional summer hiring window." However, the district is finding it difficult to fill teaching positions in math and science subjects and are prioritizing the hiring of those positions over others. 

Florida isn't the only state that seems to be struggling with hiring and retaining educators. In fact, Minnesota has been finding it quite difficult to find teachers in the math and science subjects as well. 

"Minnesota, like many states, has a supply-and-demand problem—200-plus teaching jobs were posted in February alone in the areas of math, science and special education," according to Star Tribune. With STEM subjects helping students explore a wide array of jobs in the field, it's possible to see how this may lead to a bit of a decline in students who pursue teaching careers in these subjects. 

State legislators have attempted to entice more individuals to the profession by introducing a measure that "would ease the path to licensure for teachers coming from outside Minnesota" as well as one that seeks to recruit "new teachers of color by providing stipends to help families get by while they fulfill student-teaching requirements," according to the Star Tribune.  

However, once these new teachers are hired on, the district must contend with the issue of retention. A recent Minnesota Department of Education report found that "more than a quarter of Minnesota teachers left their jobs after the third year. About 15 percent quit after one year."

Meanwhile, in Oakland, the Unified School District is having their own teacher retention issues and have found that over 70 percent of teachers who joined the district, end up leaving in some manner within five years, according to the East Bay Times.

Experts believe that a lack of "new teacher support," could be the reason behind this alarming rates. Jennie Herriot-Hatfield, a teacher at Think College Now, believes that teachers who have a rough couple of years, may not want to stick around. However, Herriot-Hatfield thinks proper teacher support could make all the difference and help change the dismal retention rates. 


For an educator's perspective, read Education World's Keith Lambert's take on why our teachers are leaving.

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