After Years of Budget Cuts, Many School Districts Finding it Hard to Hire Qualified Teachers

Tuesday, September 15, 2015
(photo: Orlin Wagner, AP)

School districts across the country have struggled to fill all of their teaching positions with fully credentialed teachers.


Years of budget cuts caused districts to lay off thousands of teachers, sending many into other professions, while college students elected other job tracks because the outlook until recently looked dim for classroom opportunities.


But with budgets restored, school officials are trying to staff all vacancies, only to find in many cases there aren’t enough qualified candidates available in their area.


Districts in several states have been forced to hire substitutes in place of permanent teachers. “When you are 1,000 teachers short, you have to think about how that affects our children,” Oklahoma’s superintendent of public instruction, Joy Hofmeister, told the Associated Press. “We are talking about 25,000 to 30,000 kids without a permanent teacher.”


Recruiters from Oklahoma City have traveled to Puerto Rico and Spain seeking teachers. Other districts are putting up billboards in neighboring states to lure teachers. Charlotte, N.C., Tampa, Fla. and Las Vegas are also among large cities seeking teachers.


The number of students training to be teachers declined dramatically this decade, from 719,081 in 2010 to 499,800 in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Education.


California alone will need to hire 21,000 new teachers every year over the next five years, but is issuing fewer than 15,000 new teaching credentials a year. “There was a point where we were, frankly, overproducing teachers. Now, if you look at the most recent year, we are not producing enough,” Joshua Speaks, a legislative representative at the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, told AP.


In some cases, schools hired new teachers before they finished their credentialing program just so they had someone in the classroom when school began this month.

During the 2013-14 school year, nearly 25% of all new teaching credentials issued in California were for internships that allowed candidates to work full time as teachers while simultaneously enrolling in training courses at night or on weekends, according to The New York Times.


Before that, the total of emergency temporary permits issued to allow non-credentialed staff members to fill teaching posts jumped by more than 36% from 2012 to 2013.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley


To Learn More:

After Years of Cuts, School Districts Face Teacher Shortages (by Christine Armario and Lisa Leff, Associated Press)

Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble (Credentials Optional) (by Motoko Rich, New York Times)

District’s Bid to Outsource Substitute Teachers Falters (by Kevin McCorry, NewsWorks)


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