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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. He holds a Ph.D. with a specialization in elementary education from the University of South Florida. His...
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The Current Teacher Shortage Should Be a Wake-Up Call

You don’t have to go far to realize that we are facing a major shortage of teachers in U.S.schools. News reports show that school districts across the country are scrambling to find qualified teachers to meet fast-growing enrollment at public schools.  

The National Education Association has described the situation as “worse than we thought.” 

Reasons for the shortage stem from retirement of teachers and teachers leaving the profession.

However, in my opinion, the problem is largely systematic. Fewer college students are studying to be teachers. Take for instance, the University of Central Florida, which according to the Orlando Sentinel, is Florida’s largest supplier of teacher candidates. The university enrolled 318 fewer teaching interns than three years ago, a major decline and concerning statistic.

To recruit more student teachers, UCF advertised on a billboard “Be a Hero. Teachers needed.” 

While teaching is truly a noble profession, encouraging college students to go into teaching because it’s honorable is simply not enough—especially considering they will work in a culture that doesn’t seem to value or respect teaching as a profession.

Experts say that fewer people are going into teaching because of the low pay, working conditions, job dissatisfaction, and high-pressured evaluation systems.

The shortage is a direct result of failing to improve the conditions surrounding the profession. This is the long-term consequence of failing to do more to increase teacher salaries so they can live comfortable lives. It is the failure to provide teachers with more discretion and creativity in their classrooms—to trust them as professionals.  It is also the result of reducing teaching and learning to a test score.

Until federal and state lawmakers and others at the top of the educational food chain begin to seriously make improvements to the teaching profession and make it a viable, attractive option for bright, talented college students, these students will choose other paths, leaving schools with shortages and classrooms without the powerful force needed to develop an educated society.