Archives for category: Teacher Shortage


Despite a small uptick in the number of people enrolled in teacher preparation programs, the state still faces a large shortage of qualified teachers.

24,000 credentialed teachers are needed, but the pipeline produced only 8,000 last year.

Bill Raden and Eunice Park write in Capital & Main:

April findings by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing noted that 23,832 prospective teachers were enrolled in state teacher prep programs during the 2016-17 school year (the most recent data available) — an increase of nearly 2,500 over the previous year and 4,000 more than in 2012-13. But that’s still a trickle compared to the 77,705 enrollment over 2001-02. Last year alone the state came up short about 8,000 of the 24,000 fully credentialed teachers it needed. The result, said California’s newly appointed State Board of Education president Linda Darling-Hammond, is that “half the people coming in are not yet prepared and most likely are teaching in the highest-need communities.” The fix? Darling-Hammond said the state must restore discontinued programs, such as scholarships that cover teacher preparation program costs, or student loan forgiveness in exchange for teaching in high-needs schools or hard-to-fill subject areas.

As the new president of the State Board of Education, Darling-Hammond is well situated to push these reasonable fixes into reality.


Writing in Valerie Strauss’s “Answer Sheet” blog in the Washington Post, Fed Ingram explains why Florida has a massive teacher shortage. Ingram was Miami-Dade County’s Teacher of the Year in 2006 and he is now president of the Florida Education Association.

He writes that conditions for teachers are so bad that the state is experiencing a “silent strike” as teachers leave.

Halfway through this school year, more than 2,200 vacancies hobble Florida’s public schools. In 2018, the Florida Board of Education identified critical teacher shortages in English, mathematics, reading, general science, physical science and other subjects.

Recent graduates of schools of education ignore Florida recruiters at job fairs. Many educators who began teaching careers here are leaving our classrooms with no plans to return. We’re experiencing a “silent strike.”

Children living in districts that are not fully staffed are likely to wind up in with an overworked substitute in an overcrowded classroom or with a teacher untrained in the subject she or he has been hired to teach…

The Sunshine State ranks 45th in the nation in teacher pay with salaries $10,000 less than the national average. Meanwhile the cost of living here is 10 percent higher than in the rest of the United States.

Facing high costs and low pay, Florida’s teachers often work second jobs. Many teachers with advanced degrees wait tables or drive for Uber — and some teachers sell their own plasma to make ends meet.

It’s no secret that shortsighted policies have starved Florida schools of much-needed funds for years on end. Bogus schemes to use short-term bonuses to make up for long-term deficits in salaries for Florida teachers haven’t worked either.

Money isn’t the only problem. Too many politicians treat public schools and the people who work in them as punching bags. When the profession is attacked daily; when the contribution teachers make to students and communities goes unrecognized; when bureaucrats who’ve never spent a day in a classroom tell teachers how to do their job — then it becomes difficult to attract and retain dedicated and qualified education professionals.

The state’s leaders seem dimly aware of these problems but their priority right now is expanding voucher programs and increasing charter schools. In voucher schools–most of them religious–teachers do not need a college degree or certification. The current omnibus bill, SB7070, relies on bonuses not salary increases and seeks to lower standards for teachers to boost the supply of teachers. These are all incredibly bad ideas, but Florida is run by people who really don’t care about education or teachers or the future of the state. This, after all, is the state that Betsy DeVos considers a model for the nation because of its vouchers, its charter schools, its high stakes testing, its school report cards, and….its low salaries for teachers. Education on the cheap.


John Thompson writes from Oklahoma:

The Tulsa World’s headline nailed the big picture, “‘Staggering’: 30,000 Oklahoma Teachers Have Left Profession in the Past Six Years, Report Shows.” The World’s Michael Dekker cites State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister who explained, “The loss of 30,000 educators over the past six years is staggering — and proof that our schools must have the resources to support a growing number of students with an increasing number of needs.”

These huge losses occurred in a state which employed only 50,598 teachers in 2017-18.

Hofmeister addressed the immediate problem, “Steep budget cuts over the last decade have made the teaching profession in Oklahoma less attractive, resulting in a severe teacher shortage crisis and negative consequences for our schoolchildren.” The analysis, 2018 Oklahoma Educator Supply and Demand Report, by Naneida Lazarte Alcala, also touched on the ways that the lack of respect and the decline of teachers’ professional autonomy contributed to the massive exodus from the classroom.

The report showed that Oklahoma’s annual attrition rate has been 10 percent during the last 6 years, which was 30 percent more than the national average. This prompted an increase from 32 emergency certifications in 2012 to 2,915 in 2018-19. As a result, the median experience of state teachers declined by 1/5th in this short period.

Given the challenges faced by the Oklahoma City Public School System, it is noteworthy that the highest turnover rate in 2017-18 (almost 25 percent) occurred in central Oklahoma. Over 11 percent of teachers in the central region are new hires.

It should also be noted that charter schools have the highest turnover rate (almost 42 percent), even higher than that of middle schools. 

I kid my colleagues in middle school. But there is a serious point. Choice advocates have had success in their political campaign to defeat traditional public schools, but their turnover rate is another sign that the oversupply of charters shows that privatization isn’t a viable, educational alternative to neighborhood schools. 

But the financial cutbacks were not the only cause of the crisis. Alcala cites a survey of teachers who have left Oklahoma schools; 2/3rds said that increased compensation would not be enough to bring them back to the classroom.  Citing reasons that were beyond the scope of the report, 78 percent said that the quality of the work environment had declined, and nearly half said it had deteriorated a great deal.

On the other hand, the report suggested aspects of teaching conditions that merit further examination. It cited research on the negative effects of teacher turnover on student achievement, especially for low-income students. This stands in contrast with research cited by accountability-driven, competition-driven school reformers who argue that turnover isn’t necessarily bad. After all, they invested heavily in trying to identify and dismiss low-performing teachers.

The SDE study cited the value of low student-teacher ratios in terms of raising student achievement, especially for low-income students. It also noted the national pattern where education degrees have “notoriously” declined, as well as the drop in graduates in Oklahoma teacher preparation programs.

And that brings us to the unintended results of features, as opposed to bugs, in the corporate school reform movement which peaked during this era. Reformers who lacked knowledge of realities in schools misinterpreted research on California schools which supposedly said that class size reductions don’t work, and then ignored the preponderance of evidence on why class size matters. Reformers often blamed university education departments for poor student test scores, and experimented with teacher preparation shortcuts. Some reformers even said what many others felt about wanting to undermine the institution of career teaching.

To understand the decline of working conditions for teachers, the teacher strike in Denver, as well as those in Oklahoma and other states, must be considered. Senator Michael Bennet, the former superintendent of the Denver schools, called for incentives in urban schools by twenty-somethings who would work for 7 to 9 years.  His hugely expensive and complicated incentive system provoked the recent strike.

It should have been obvious that teacher churn is bad for students, who need trusting relationships with educators who love them. A decade ago, however, edu-philanthropists and the federal government essentially imposed a rushed and risky experiment on schools in Oklahoma and across the nation. These noneducators praised the gambles as “disruptive innovation.” But they incentivized primitive teach-to-the-test malpractice and drove much of the joy of teaching and learning out of schools.

Evidence that excellent teachers were being “exited” by a flawed statistical model used in these teacher evaluation systems was ignored.  Since these policies incentivized the removal of highly paid veteran teachers during the budget crisis prompted by the Great Recession, Baby Boomers were often targeted.  This resulted in schools such as Upper Greystone, an elementary school with 24 certified staff,  which had 21 teacher vacancies at the beginning of the 2014-15 school year.

During the 1990s, education experts frequently warned that Baby Boomers would soon be retiring, and sought ways for veteran teachers to pass on their wisdom. During the last decade, however, corporate reform made the staggeringly serious mistake of undermining teachers’ autonomy in order to force educators to comply with their technocratic mandates. Veteran teachers were rightly seen as opponents to their teach-to-the-test regimes, and often they were pushed out of the profession so they wouldn’t undercut the socializing of young teachers into opposing bubble-in accountability. 

Even if we had not made another unforced error and dramatically cut education spending, failed reforms would have wasted educators’ time and energy, damaged teachers’ professionalism, and sucked much of the joy of teaching and learning out of classrooms. When the retirement and the pushing out of Baby Boomers, funding cuts, and drill-and-kill pedagogy came together during and after the Great Recession, this staggering exodus of teachers was triggered.

Linda Lyon, for president of the Arizona School Boards Association, writes here about the deepening teacher shortage in her state.

Instead of acting forcefully to improve the working conditions for teachers, the legislature is stuck on devising ways to expand its voucher program. That’s why the Koch brothers elected Governor Ducey, and they expect him to deliver.

She writes:

Anyone wondering where we stand with Arizona’s teacher shortage? After all, last year was probably the most significant year ever for Arizona public school teachers. Some 75,000 of them marched on the state Capitol demanding better pay for themselves and support staff, lower class sizes and more. The result was an additional 9% salary increase added to the 1% Governor Ducey had originally offered for the year. Surely this must have helped us retain quality teachers, right?

Well, not so fast. As the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association (ASPAA) learned in their annual statewide survey of districts, we are a long way from “out of the woods” and aren’t even headed in the right direction.

242EFF29-BFCA-4C0A-B496-C54953BBAD3DThe 211 districts and charters that responded last year reported that 7,453 teacher openings needed to be filled during the school year. As of December 12, 2018, there were still 1,693 vacancies and 3,908 individuals not meeting standard teacher requirements, for a total of 75% of teacher positions vacant or filled by less than fully qualified people.

On top of that, 913 teachers had either abandoned or resigned from their teacher position within the first half of the school year without a candidate pool to replace them. To make matters worse, 76% of these teachers held a standard teacher certificate.

These are alarming statistics, made all the more so considering the strides made in 2018, and the worse status since the 2017–18 report. It showed that as of December 8, 2017, 62.5% of teacher positions were vacant or not meeting standard teacher requirements and 866 teachers had abandoned or resigned within first half of the year, over 80% of whom held a standard teacher certificate.

The salary increase didn’t solve the problem, partly because salary and benefits still aren’t competitive, but also because teacher working conditions (such as high class sizes and the dramatic increase of children dealing with trauma and Adverse Childhood Experiences) make it really tough to do the job right. And, oh by the way, allowing our districts to hire uncertified teachers hasn’t done anything to make our teachers feel valued as professionals. As the state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction, Kathy Hoffman, told the state House Education Committee yesterday, our teacher shortage is a crisis. To make matters worse, 25% of Arizona teachers are eligible to retire in the next two years.

The geniuses in the legislature thought that lowering teacher qualification standards would attract more teachers. It didn’t.

Cory Booker sent a complicated message at his campaign kickoff in New Orleans at Xavier University, where he was sponsored by charter chain and spoke to students.

He told the audience that the power of the people outweighs the power of money.

This is inspirational indeed. It says that those of us fighting the power of the Walton family, the Sackler family, the Koch brothers, Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the DeVos family, Paul Singer, and the many other billionaires attacking our public schools will WIN and the billionaires WILL LOSE.

We–the people–will defeat the powerful.

We will not let them close our public schools with their lies and propaganda. We will not let them turn other American cities into New Orleans.

We want every aspirant for the presidency in 2020–any party–to say where they stand on the issue of the future of public schools, the future of the teaching profession, and the future of collective bargaining.

Thanks, Cory, for reminding us that the power of the people can beat the billionaires and Wall Street, especially those privatizers and hedge funders now supporting your campaign. Itworked for Obama, but it won’t work for you. We know now about the privatization movement.

Tell us where you stand on privatization, the teaching profession, and unions. Or let us guess.

Talk about a hard line! Jeanne Allen of the Center for Education Reform urges LAUSD to fire all the striking teachers!

PeterGreene writes about it here.

Jeanne Allen is a true rightwinger, out there on the edge.

She looks back nostalgically to 1981, when Ronald Reagan broke a strike by the air controllers union by threatening to fire them all if they didn’t return. To work at once.

Her advice to the LAUSD:

In a post-Janus world, teacher unions cannot exist and continue to gain members unless they demonstrate and prove their value. This strike, like others we’re seeing around the country, is a desperate attempt by the union to maintain relevance in a day and age where they can
no longer require teachers to join.

California needs to break the district up into 100 different pieces, have much smaller units, and allow for the freedom, flexibility, access and innovation that’s happening in charters. If it weren’t for charter schools, education in L.A. would be at the level of Mississippi. The UTLA sees charters
as such a threat to the status quo that it is willing want to hurt students kids even more to score a victory against charters.

My advice to the district: Hold strong. Replace them all. If they want a dramatic impact on education, fire the union and begin to repair the schools, just like Reagan fired the air traffic controllers.

Peter Greene says that Jeanne Allen makes no pretense of being benign and caring. She despises public schools and teachers unions. She has no mask. She believes in privatizing schools, period.

Peter takes her seriously and wonders where LA would find another 30,000 or so teachers to replace the current force.

That’s very kind of him but the reality is that California is a blue state, a state where union-busting is absurd. A new poll by the ABC local station found that the trachers’ Strike has overwhelming public support (about 2/3 support it) and in,y 15% oppose the teachers.

Ain’t gonna happen, Jeanne!

Here’s an idea: how about giving teachers in LA the same salary as Jeanne Allen and call it a day. They work harder and have jobs of far more social value than hers.

Linda Lyon, recent President of the Arizona SchoolBoards Association, describes the low funding and legislative hostility that has created a teacher shortage in Arizona. The legislature’s answer to the teacher shortage: lower standards to fill empty classroom.

Pay is not the only reason teachers are fleeing classrooms. They also cite inadequate public respect and increased accountability without appropriate support. In Arizona specifically, contributing factors include 25% of our certified teachers being retirement eligible, a grading system for schools that still relies heavily on standardized tests, a GOP-led Legislature that is very pro-school choice if not openly hostile to public district education and their teachers, and the lack of respect for the teaching profession demonstrated by the dumbing down of teacher qualification requirements.

Arizona began this dumbing down in 2017. According to, since the 2015–2016 school year, “nearly 7,200 teaching certificates have been issued to teachers who aren’t fully trained to lead a classroom. In just three years, the number of Arizona teaching certificates that allow someone to teach full-time without completing formal training has increased by more than 400 percent according to state Department of Education data analyzed by The Arizona Republic. For the 2017–18 school year, that added up to 3,286 certificates issued to untrained teachers and by 47 days into the 2018–2019 school year, 1,404 certificates had been issued to untrained teachers while 3,141 were issue standard certificates.”

That last 1,404 certificates issued for the current school year is probably the most instructive, because this is after the 10 percent raises for teachers the #RedforEd movement garnered in 2018. So, less than one-third of the way into the school year, the state has issued almost half as many certificates to untrained teachers as the entire previous year. In other words, despite the 10% pay increase, Arizona districts are having even more difficulty attracting professional teachers into their classrooms.

Fortune magazine notes that teachers quitting their jobs at a record rate.

What kind of an education system will we have without teachers who are devoted to their profession, without teachers who are professionals?

What kind of a nation will we be?

Are the billionaires hoping to fill classrooms with computers that don’t expect pay or healthcare or pensions?

Frustrated by little pay and better opportunities elsewhere, public school teachers and education employees in the United States are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record.

During the first 10 months of the year, public educators, including teachers, community college faculty members, and school psychologists, quit their positions at a rate of 83 per 10,000, Labor Department figures obtained by The Wall Street Journal show. That’s the highest rate since the government started collecting the data in 2001. It’s also nearly double the 48 per 10,000 educators who quit their positions in 2009, the year with the lowest number of departures.

According to the report, teachers are leaving for a variety of reasons. Unemployment is low, which means there are other, potentially more lucrative opportunities elsewhere. Better pay, coupled with tight budgets and, in some cases, little support from communities could also push educators to other positions.

In third quarter, public education workers saw their pay rise 2.2% compared to the prior year. However, that was still below the 3.1% pay hike those who work in the private sector earned, according to the Journal report.

But despite the challenges teachers and other education employees face, they’re still more dedicated to their positions and their students than most. So far this year, American workers left their positions at a rate of 231 per 10,000, or nearly four-times the rate at which teachers left their positions.

Oh, well, there is some consolation in knowing that American workers are leaving their jobs too. This is the sound of a very unhappy nation with a depressed and unhappy workforce.

The Kansas State Department of Education has money to burn (but not on tezchers’ Salaries), so it burned $270,000 to hire three inexperinced temporary teachers from TFA. The three will be gone in two years or so, meaning this was a very unwise expenditure.

Mercedes Schneider explains the folly here.

The real winner in this bad deal is TFA and its recruiter.

Note to state education departments: Don’t do stuff that makes you look foolish.

Steven Singer reviews the latest Phi Delta Kappa poll of public opinion about public schools and finds that public support is at an all-time high, with one exception: Though people admire and respect teachers, they don’t want their children to grow up to be a teacher. They understand that teachers are underpaid and undervalued.

He writes:

According to the 50th annual PDK Poll of attitudes about public schools, Americans trust and support teachers, but don’t want their own children to join a profession they see as underpaid and undervalued.

In almost every other way, they support public schools and the educators who work there.

When it comes to increasing school funding, increasing teacher salary, allowing teachers to strike, and an abundance of other issues, the poll found a majority of people unequivocally in favor of endeavors meant to bolster learning.

In fact, support for education and educators has never been so high in half a century.

“Two-thirds of Americans say teachers are underpaid, and an overwhelming 78% of public school parents say they would support teachers in their community if they went on strike for more pay,” according to PDK’s Website.