Teacher Shortages

Teacher Shortages

Jacob Pecore

Imagine this scenario: you are in your classroom waiting for the teacher to come in, instead, the teacher across the hallway comes in and takes over for that period. This is one of the many signs that there seems to be a lack of teachers, and not enough substitutes to fill the absences. Perhaps even long standing teachers seem to be slowly disappearing and no one is taking their place. This has been an issue that started nearly a decade prior and seems to be slowly affecting most of the US, not just Ohio schools. Nearly 300,000 teachers have walked out of the classroom over the last 2 years, and it makes people wonder one simple question: “Why?”

This may be due to a multitude of factors, including burnout and the lockdowns during the 2020-2021 school year. The National Education Association did a poll during the 2021-22 school year and trends proved that burnout was actively affecting teachers, up to roughly 60%. It was also discovered that roughly 55% want to retire from their jobs faster than normal which is up from 37% the previous year. 

This could be for a multitude of different factors, like the already-stated lockdown on top of other concerns such as salaries and added stress from students. The salary issue has become something that has grown even more crucial since 2020 due to the lack of anyone in the teaching profession. As of January 25th, Texas raised the salaries of their education force an extra $15,000, using about half of their existing reserves to aid their education system. Within Ohio, the average pay is around $50,000, which is counting that you stay within the career for years. In the same NEA poll, there was also proof that around 94% of the people who took it put their total support into having something mental health related for students who may need it, which may be due to adding more stress onto the teacher.

There has also been the threat of dwindling numbers of students choosing education as a career path. According to an investigative study from The Harris Poll, only around 55% consider teaching as a prestigious career option, having a heavy drop from 65% a decade prior. This is not counting the added students per classroom, with around a 4% estimated increase within the next decade, possibly compressing classrooms even further than before, especially with the increase in population always happening over the years. This makes people wonder if it is worth going into the profession, even with the possibility of the pay slowly increasing to counteract inflating prices. The fact of the matter is that people have shied away from the education field, and those who were fresh into the profession are now leaving in search of other jobs, such as office jobs and other uses for an education degree, that may not be as demanding as what a teacher has to balance.

 With COVID especially, burnout has been widespread within the entire educational medium. Due to how the education field is going in, many sources are projecting a 100,000 teacher loss within the next few years, while demand will continue to rise. If nothing changes within the field of education there may be underlying circumstances that could last for a while.

This teacher shortage is especially affecting parts of Ohio, as an example,the Akron school district which threatened to strike due to the lack of a pay increase and worries of school violence, which were eventually settled once the town itself got involved. This is one of many cases spread across Ohio within the past few years. There could be many patchwork solutions to this, such as increasing the average salary, but it does not solve the root cause of the teacher shortage fully. This issue is not something that can merely be fixed overnight; there needs to be better attention to making people aware of the demand of the job in the future, fixing the long-lasting issue of pay and the many previously covered issues that confront teachers. For now, not much can be done in the long term unless something is done to counteract the disadvantages of newcomers that want to go into the educational field. One thing that could possibly be an immediate fix is to lessen the load given to teachers by stretching out the workload as well as spending more on substitutes, which will be a step in the right direction.