Tuesday, September 26, 2023

School staffing outlook is poor right now


As the school year starts in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the district finds itself about 350 teachers short of a full staff in its 128 schools for some 85,000 students, WBAL-TV (NBC affiliate) reports.

The apparent shortage, which averages to fewer than three teachers at each school, although the vacancies may not be evenly distributed, mirrors a nationwide trend for educators in many parts of the country. A nationally representative poll of district administrators found that 72 percent won’t be able to hire enough teachers this year to fill all the vacancies and 86 percent won’t be able to hire enough bus drivers.

(Education Week Research Center)

The reasons districts aren’t able to hire or retain teachers, however, are complicated, starting with attrition following pandemic-related changes in the schools and the way teachers teach.

“I felt like the work that I was doing was not able to reach the highest level of impact,” WBAL quoted Valencia Clay-Bell, a middle school teacher in Baltimore City, as saying. “I feel like there were so many policy issues, especially around coming back from quarantine, that I couldn’t help with.”

Ms Clay-Bell went on to describe how frustrated she was over an inability to bring about real growth in her students. That led to a sort of disillusionment over teaching, and she “walked away from the profession” last school year, WBAL-TV reported.

The Maryland State Board of Education approved certain strategies districts would be allowed to employ to try to cover the teacher shortage, WBAL reported, effectively relaxing some of the requirements and allowing districts to use education majors at colleges, retired teachers, and others to fill vacancies.

The teachers union in Anne Arundel County protested the relaxation of requirements, and other prominent educators agree with them.

Some strategies in use around the nation include:

  • offering stipends and bonuses,
  • asking current employees to take on additional duties, paid or unpaid,
  • loosening qualifications (using college students),
  • raising wages, and
  • increasing class sizes.

Paraprofessionals and other school staff are also in short supply as the school year opens, with the most noticeable shortage—at least for parents—being a shortage of bus drivers.

Parents are scrambling in these final days before the school year opens in Anne Arundel County to meet transportation needs for their sons and daughters.

Paul Katulahttps://news.schoolsdo.org
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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