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Les Potter is currently the Assistant to the Superintendent (Educational Services Overseas Limited) in Egypt. He received his doctorate from the University of South Carolina. Les has over 45 years...
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Teacher Shortage in America

As all school administrators must know, there is a very real teacher shortage currently in American schools and the projections are that it will only be getting worse. What is causing this shortage? It is estimated that 50% of new teachers will leave the profession in their first five years of teaching. Some of the reasons for this high turnovers are: lack of district and state funding for positions, student enrollment is climbing, the pandemic has caused many teachers to leave their jobs, the recent recession (when I was principal at that time I had to cut 20 positions at my school), fewer people are entering the teaching profession, the high cost of college is causing others to rethink their career choices as the cost of college doe not equal their return of their investment in education, teacher retirement and even taking early retirement as states are trying to save money by retiring those "expensive" older teachers (a number of states financially punish teachers for wanting or needing to work more than 30 years, worsening the already dire situation), at least one state has done away with granting tenure to its newly hired teachers, the working conditions and unrealistic expectation of teachers, the lack of respect from parents, community and sometimes government, the enormous bureaucracy in education, lack of adequate teacher preparation and additional training on the job, some districts and states are not paying for master's degrees unless they are currently teaching in that field, 

According to several studies I have recently read, we will need another 100,000 teachers each year above what we are currently producing. We need answers soon on how to increase our teaching numbers.
 
I have been a school administrator in the US for 30+ years and an education professor as well as a chair of a college of education in teacher preparation. What are some school districts are doing to hire the best and to keep good teachers? Many districts are working with local teacher colleges to update and train new teachers. Some districts are increasing teacher PD money to help the more experienced teachers get the necessary certification to keep their jobs. Many districts and states are hiring certified teachers from other countries. I have suggested in the past that districts start looking at working with teacher assistants and substitute teachers to earn their credentials to become full time teachers. I would also like to see more states allow retired teachers and administrators to return to teaching (at a reduced salary and benefits, but certainly make it worth their while). In one state I am familiar with, retired teachers could come back to work for the school district but only as a bus driver. If you start in education at 22 years of age and work for 30 years, which in some states is mandatory retirement, you will only be 52 and many people would like or need to continue to work. 
 
There are some programs that can be helpful for the teacher shortage, Alternative education for teacher certification is increasing in popularity. In Florida (it is called the education preparation institute) and many states there are short cuts to certification for prospective teachers---Teach for America and The New Teacher Project to name just two. This can be a very good program but i have found that there is not enough practical student teaching involved in my opinion. This is a critical piece to teacher training. However, there are problems and financial burdens in requiring four months of student teaching when a person is already working a 9-5 job. Some states are now allowing teaching to take a test instead of enrolling in several college courses to add a subject certification. You just pass a test in that subject field and you have your certification. We are seeing more virtual teaching fairs. This is a cheaper and easier way to reach potential teachers than the traditional face to face job fair. Of course increasing salary and benefits at all levels of experience would greatly help. It will encourage people to enter the profession and hopefully stay. It is a shame to see so many teacher having to "moonlight" after school and the summer. This takes a lot out of teachers---physically, emotionally and mentally. This causes burn out and causes family issues. More districts are working with their unions and community to improve working conditions, safety, testing, and the unrealistic expectations of teachers.
 
I know that school districts are working hard to reduce the number of teacher vacancies (greatest need is math, science, English, special education and vocational teachers) When i was chair of the teacher education program for six years, we never had a student major in chemistry or physics. Education can not compute with business and industry for pay and benefits. We had a few student in math, physical science and biology but the great majority of students were elementary majors.

Certainly the teacher shortage must be addressed now. It is a critical need to hire the very best teachers we can to put in front of our students. Our young people deserve it! 

Dr. Les Potter
Assistant to the Superintendent
The American  International School West
Cairo Egypt