There is always an undercurrent of skepticism about ‘looming crises’. It is likely, however, that the predicted teacher shortages may be real. According to the Learning Policy Institute, the causes include: declining enrollment in teacher preparation programs, districts’ return to smaller class sizes after the recession, increasing student enrollments, and high teacher attrition. What would help?
Teacher attrition has now reached 8% nationally. Hundreds of thousands of teachers leave the profession before they reach retirement age. New teachers are not replacing all those who leave. There is, moreover, a 35% reduction in enrollment in teacher education programs. Beginning teachers and those with little preparation are also the most likely to leave the classroom. The authors claim that cutting attrition in half would solve the shortage problem.
Competitive salaries attract teachers, but lower salaries are not the primary reason teachers leave. Instead, the research indicated that lack of administrative support drives teachers from the classroom. The quality of school leadership, professional learning opportunities, time for collaboration and planning all contribute to job satisfaction. It was noteworthy in the study that only teachers in Indiana were more concerned about their job security due to the test scores of their students than teachers in Florida.
The report includes an interactive map of states that provides rankings from one to five of factors that influence the supply of teachers. Florida does not do well. The percentage of inexperienced teachers is 28.6 or more than twice the national average. The State average salary is $48, 179, and the average beginning salary is $35,166. Both of these figures are below the national averages.
Our district still has twenty-two instructional positions open not including those for special education and guidance counselors. School has been in session for a month. This is a university community. We should have plenty of high quality teachers. What we have are nine hundred new students in the system; four hundred more than anticipated. We are losing teachers we need to retain.