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America’s teacher shortage exacerbates existing inequities in education

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Stories of a national teacher crisis have been grabbing the headlines recently. Many signal a teaching workforce crisis caused by low retention rates and small pool of qualified teachers. Although the reality of catastrophic teacher shortages is still under debate, it’s obvious that teaching isn’t a profession for the faint of heart.

Picture a new teacher fresh from college hoping to impact students to learn and develop into productive citizens. However, they have to deal with a different reality characterized by micromanagement, low pay, and burnout, among other challenges. No wonder many are abandoning the profession, exacerbating existing inequalities in education. In this post, we discuss common reasons for teacher shortages, the resulting education inequalities, and the possible solutions.

What is causing a teacher shortage in America?

  • Lack of competitive pay

Teachers make significantly less than most graduates in comparable professions. Low pay combined with other stressors in the field have caused many teachers to lose morale and abandon the profession.

  • Most solutions aim to attract new teachers, not retain old ones

There are many incentives in place to attract new teachers, but very few rewards for veteran teachers. Yet, the old teachers are the mentors for newbies and encourage them to stay. An opportunity for growth or monetary compensation for mentorship services would be a great incentive to retain old teachers.

  • Burnout

A mass exodus over burnout is yet to happen, but we should ignore concerns by teachers over being overwhelmed. Teachers have to fill in gaps created by shortages, leading to them taking on more students and having extra duties. Burnout encourages quitting, leading to a vicious cycle of teacher shortages.

  • Lack of teacher autonomy

Despite having college degrees, administrators dictate what, when, and how teachers will teach. Micromanagement is harmful and demoralizing for teachers, causing massive flight.

  • Fewer graduates are majoring in education

In recent years, the number of students pursuing teaching courses in universities has declined. With so much publicized about the challenges teachers are facing, you can’t blame them.

  • Health and safety concerns

Fears brought by the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in school shootings has prompted some teachers to quit and students to stay away from education courses. A good number of people are not ready to take on the health and safety sacrifices that the teaching profession necessitates.

How teacher shortage exacerbates existing inequalities in education

Some of the most pressing issues caused by teacher shortages are inequalities in the quality of education and access to resources. Students in most need of qualified teachers are more likely to attend schools affected by shortages. Also, mt schools with large minority groups have less funding than predominantly white schools. The shortage of funds makes it difficult for poor urban and rural schools to compete for qualified teachers in the marketplace.

Also, there has been a shortage of qualified educators who can teach STEM students and those with learning disabilities. The training system requires special educators to do more, earn more college credits, perform more work, and take on more student debt than general teachers while taking the same or lower pay. Hence, the profession has become unfulfilling and unsustainable, leading to shortages that fuel inequality in education for students with special needs.

Luckily, technology has made it easy for students to get online help with their studies and assignments. Today, many students seek essay help online from experts to get assistance with difficult assignments or boost their understanding of challenging subjects. Others are taking advantage of remote or hybrid learning for educational support.

What can be done to correct the situation?

  1. Raise teacher salaries

Some school districts have succeeded in easing teacher shortages by boosting pay. It’s a great way to entice students to major in the profession. Also, stipends for staff in hard jobs that experience perennial shortages, such as those teaching STEM disciplines and special education would be an excellent place to start.

  1. Bottom-up support

School districts need to listen to feedback from teachers about how the school environment should feel or look like. Most of them have innovative ideas and lots of experience that could boost teachers’ well-being and overall learning environment.

  1. Autonomy

To retain old teachers and attract new ones, schools should make their campuses a place where educators want to work, and lack of autonomy is a top complaint by teachers. For example, teachers should have room to set discipline policies, develop a performance measure, and direct spending of class resources. Also, schools must address bullying among teaching staff to create a healthy working environment.

  1. Support and training for new educators

The first few years of a teacher’s career can be a critical time in their decision to stay or leave the profession. They are learning to navigate challenges that they’ll have to deal with throughout their careers, such as parent relationships, student discipline, and school board politics. Mentorship and training during the transition are vital for new teachers because they improve retention, boost job satisfaction, and enhance student academic achievement.

  1. Comprehensive teacher evaluation

Teacher assessments emphasize test scores over anything else, and hence the high teacher shortages in high transient districts. The effectiveness of teachers is more than a test score number. Many teachers report that the method of teaching assessment and overseeing the curriculum played a critical role in their decision to abandon the profession. Thus, a comprehensive evaluation will encourage teachers to stay.

Solving America’s teacher shortage and resulting inequities in education is not rocket science

The causes of teacher shortages are well-known to school districts. Careful application of recommended solutions can attract and keep the best talent and develop new teachers in need of support. Strategies such as improving compensation and working conditions can resolve the shortage and minimize inequalities in access to quality education.

Members of the editorial and news staff of the Daily Caller were not involved in the creation of this content.