Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Nationwide teacher shortage leads some districts to hire teachers who haven't earned full credentials

Because many teachers were laid off during the recession and fewer people are training for the profession today, many school districts are facing teacher shortages, especially in math, science and special education. An increase in English-as-second-language learners in public schools has caused districts to search for bilingual teachers wherever they can find them. Some districts are "even asking prospective teachers to train on the job, hiring novices still studying for their teaching credentials, with little, if any, classroom experience," Motoko Rich writes for The New York Times.

Rural schools have a chronic problem of recruiting and retaining qualified teachers. Following the Great Recession, potential teachers wanted to avoid collecting debt or training for jobs that might not exist, so the number of people in the U.S. entering teacher-preparation programs dropped by 30 percent from 2010 to 2014, Rich reports.

Some of the large, urban school districts struggling to find enough teachers include Louisville, Nashville, Oklahoma City and Providence, according to the Council of the Great City Schools. In California, districts had to find teachers to fill 21,500 positions after losing 82,000 jobs from 2008 to 2012 during the recession.

Usually a teacher in California has to finish a post-baccalaureate credentialing program and serve as a student teacher, but in 2013-14, almost 25 percent of the teaching credentials distributed in California were for internships that candidates completed while already working full time as teachers. "There are not enough people who will look at teacher education or being a teacher as a job that they want to pursue," said Carlos Ayala, dean of the school of education at Sonoma State University.

In Rohnert Park, about 50 miles north of San Francisco, Superintendent Robert A. Haley asked his daughter's high school cross-country coach to fill in as an elementary-school physical-education teacher. The coach, David Kimari, is studying kinesiology and will teach P.E. at two schools this year. He will enroll in teacher credential classes next January, Rich writes. Kimari said, "I went into it like, 'Oh, man, I don't know what I'm getting myself into.'" But then he realized that "as long as you are passionate and as long as you can communicate with other people and you don't give off hostile vibes, you can pick it up along the way." (Read more)

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