More than 1 in 5 U.S. children are (still) living in poverty
Minority children were even more likely to be living in poverty, the Annie E. Casey Foundation pointed out. Nearly four in 10 black children and nearly one-third of Latino children live in poverty, compared with 13 percent of white and Asian children.
How can we stem the tide of teacher shortages?
Friday, September 11, 2015
Just a few years ago, teachers across the country faced a stark future, with many suddenly receiving pink slips in their hands. With the economy looking more dire by the minute, people turned away from the teaching profession to train in other vocations — training that would get them better jobs and fast.
My, how the tides have turned. Districts are now reporting a serious dearth of teachers and therefore scrambling to hire more. Schools are hurting most in areas like math, science, foreign language and special education. The growing number of English-language learners has also necessitated the demand for bilingual teachers to bridge the gap in their learning.
Enrollment in teacher preparation programs and the number of credentials issued have been steadily declining since 2008. In California alone, the number of applicants for teaching positions has dropped by 55 percent from 2008 to 2012, while the national drop was around 30 percent from 2010 to 2014.
A bad economy and job uncertainty has led to fewer people viewing teacher education as a good prospect. In the scramble to fill empty slots, school districts have resorted to hiring novices who are still studying for their teaching credentials. They are asking prospective teachers with little classroom experience to join right away, then train on the job. Many are worried this could seriously undermine the quality of the teaching force.
Clearly, qualified candidates are high in demand but few in number. In their struggle to find teachers, schools are increasingly relying on emergency hires — when they fail to find a certified teacher, they hire an unlicensed educator. Many are hired under alternative certification rules, some still training while others hail from the private sector.
These unlicensed teachers are not completely pushed into the deep end for they do receive help from a mentor teacher. They also have to outline a plan for their certification process. Over time, some have become quite successful as teachers. But whether qualified or unlicensed, none will apply if the job security is still in question and low pay is still an issue.
To counter this scenario, the deep cuts in education must be reversed. But then no amount of fund infusion can compete with high-paying jobs in the tech sector. Tech startups have seen a veritable boom in recent times and have absorbed many qualified candidates across disciplines.
Low pay combined with the public perception of the teaching profession has even led to teachers not recommending the profession to their juniors.
In her letter to the editor in Las Vegas Sun, Wendy Gelbart opined that frozen pay and improperly funded health insurance are major deterrents. There is a distinct lack of teaching aids and resources, even basic school supplies in some cases.
When combined with increasingly unrealistic standards of student performance and their relation to teacher performance, these issues are enough to scare away even the bravest. It’s no wonder the nation is going through a teacher shortage. What is needed is a new professional development program that will help teachers upgrade themselves without incurring additional expense or debts as well as ensuring reasonable benefits along with better pay.
Teachers deserve this and more from us. Most of all, teachers deserve more respect, and it’s high time they got it.