Are teachers leaving in droves? Some press releases predict the Armageddon in 2020 when the teacher shortage really hits. The baby boomer teachers will have retired, and student enrollments will peak. Curiously, we also read that there are twice as many elementary teachers now than we need. Yet, there are never enough ESE and ELL teachers. Florida is short on reading and math teachers too.
I went to the Bureau of Labor and the National Center for Education Statistics to see what I could see. I saw something. The problem is real just not everywhere. I tell you where.
There are some significant trends. They are likely to cause teacher shortages in some locations. The national data show that teacher education programs are shrinking. Are public school teachers so alarmed that they are leaving the profession? No doubt some are. There is a 2% increase in the number of teachers leaving the profession over the last 25 years. Teacher attrition is approximately 8% of the more than three million three hundred thousand teachers nationwide.
In the future, fewer students will enter a teaching career. ACT surveys show a decline from 7% to 5% from 2010-14 of students who intend to pursue a teaching career. The percentage is even lower (3%) in Florida. Effective teachers stay at about the same rate as others according to the Teacher Effectiveness, Mobility, and Attrition in Florida study.
What is the real picture for the future? The growth in jobs for teachers will be about what it has been. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that there will be a 12% growth rate in teaching positions from 2012-2022. This is about the average growth rate for all occupations. Will there be teachers to fill the positions?
There is an alarming change when you look at data for individual states. Look at the growth rate of teachers needed from 2008 to 2020 for these states:
Washington, Nevada, and Idaho come next. Florida is way down at a 5.9% increase.
There will be teacher shortages in the states listed above. They are already there is some areas. The driving force is not teacher dissatisfaction, but the higher birth rate of Hispanic families than those of other racial/ethnic groups. The interesting possibility is that the shortages could drive improvements for all teachers. On the other hand, it could drive the expansion of online education. The public will have to make the choice.