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Teacher Shortages Aren’t Going Away

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The new school year is in full swing, but many districts across the country are facing a teacher shortage crisis. Both rural and urban schools are struggling to fill open positions as existing teachers retire or change careers. And with fewer college students choosing education as their major, shortages are only expected to grow. By next year the nationwide teacher shortage could easily exceed 100,000 positions.

According to the US Department of Education, science, math, foreign language and special education are the hardest hit. More than 40 states reported teacher shortages in these areas.
Salary and workload are the driving forces behind this trend. Math and science teacher pay has remained relatively flat over the past 20 years. Many of these educators leave to make more money in the private sector. Special education teacher turnover, on the other hand, is being fueled by increasing class sizes, work demands and stress.

As teachers retire or leave the field early, there are fewer new educators to replace them. North Carolina’s public university system saw a 27% enrollment decline in undergraduate and graduate teaching programs from 2010 to 2014. There was a 24% decline in Colorado during that same time. Nationally, the number of students who plan to major in education has reached its lowest point in nearly five decades.

As school districts move forward with few teachers, the problem isn’t expected to resolve any time soon. Until teachers see a measurable increase in pay and classroom support, the number of them will continue to decrease.

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