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A new article came out describing a teacher shortage:
https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/america-has-a...

I know a bit about my state (Wisconsin), but I would never assume that the feelings here are the same for the entire country as there was so many events with extreme divisions formed during the weakening of the public sector unions.

I wanted to know how teachers felt in other states and/or if there was a shortage there.

It is definitely a concern if there are fewer students wishing to be teachers. If intelligent people are no longer attracted to the profession, then fewer and fewer children will have a solid base for their education.
 
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Xuzu Horror
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As a counter to this article, please look at this article written in April:
http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2016-04-26/cries-about-n...
 
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J.D. Hall
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My oldest daughter is a teacher, as is my middle brother. Both express dissatisfaction with "teaching to the test" as the metric used by administration, and my daughter reports numerous fellow instructors leaving Oklahoma to find jobs where they get paid more.
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Xuzu Horror
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As far as my personal history. I graduated high school in 1999 and went to 2 schools I was very happy with.

I went to a private Catholic K-8 school and a public high school. My older sister did the same, but my younger sister went to a private high school as well.

(FYI, a friend of mine is raising a family where I grew up, and he has stated that the cost of the school we had gone to, has increased quite a bit).

In both schools I had some excellent teachers, highly intelligent and great at teaching. It definitely helped to cultivate my enjoyment for math and science - heck my teacher in math for high school even won teacher of the year for Minnesota just a bit before I graduated.

The one thing they all had in common was intelligence and a desire to go above and beyond what is required. Sometimes that meant making a topic interesting - such as talking about history almost as if reading an exciting novel, or explaining certain math concepts in multiple different ways so that people who learn in different ways can latch onto the way that makes the most sense to them, or having a classroom filled with animals and calling the class in from recess to watch the snake finally eating the toad.



 
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Xuzu Horror
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I am mostly worried about students losing those teachers - that those teachers that are very intelligent and motivated won't end up going into different fields - either because of the salary/benefits, because of the increased bureaucracy, or because the feeling that respect that goes with the job has lessened (whether it really has or not).
 
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Neil Carr
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I'm not reading the second article as really a counter to the first as simply expanding on the various factors that play into the issue of having enough teachers for all the classrooms.

From my vantage point in Vermont I see a steady stream of School Spring posts (the Monster.com of teaching jobs) that are dominated by math and science positions. Having watched these emails come in on a regular basis you can see that there is definitely turnover in the more rural and poor communities, with the same group of schools appearing again and again looking to fill a science/math position.

I went through a teacher training program in 2010 when the recession was still fresh. The instructors were emphasizing that a lot of jobs would be opening up due to the older generation retiring, but the recession made people hold onto their jobs longer and so we never saw the job market really open up. Of the five classmates I've stayed in contact with from that teacher training program, I'm the only one that remains in the teaching profession. Everyone else has moved on to other fields because the teaching job market never gave them a good permanent position. The $7000 spent for certification went down the drain for them, however they were all Social Studies or Language Arts people, not science/math. SS and LA in a solid school are very competitive to get in Vermont as there is an overall squeeze on middle class jobs to begin with in the state.

The articles on education normally focus on inner city issues, but rural poverty is also a big problem and has some hurdles that are more easily addressed in an urban environment. When you have a low population density area there are logistical, cultural and tax base deficiencies that are hard to overcome.

We're in a bind at our school as we are down two math teachers at the moment. The school is in a more rural area and we serve at-risk youth. It's a real challenge to find someone at this time of year in general, but we also have to have a teacher who would work well in a therapeutic environment, not everyone is temperamentally suited for this population. Admin isn't going to hire just anyone, as getting someone in who can't work well in our kind of school could well add trauma to these students, rather than help steer them away from it. In the mean time the special educators and certain admins are teaching math as best they can.

As for how to fix things? There is no one answer, but getting class sizes to 15 to 18 per teacher (not all staff!), minimizing standardized testing, and giving robust services to students in need will all contribute to better job satisfaction, and thus retention. I work in a school that has 6:1 student/teacher and 2:1 overall staff ratio, which is needed for a therapeutic environment and we're very well insulated from standardized testing. Working here is great, with the only real deficiency being that we don't even get paid what public school teachers get, along with regularly scheduled pay increases.
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Michael Carter
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My girlfriend has had a hard time the last two years finding a full time English teacher position around here. She has been working on building a relationship with the area schools because most of them are only hiring from within.
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Neil Carr
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mlcarter815 wrote:
My girlfriend has had a hard time the last two years finding a full time English teacher position around here. She has been working on building a relationship with the area schools because most of them are only hiring from within.


That's the reality here in Vermont also. All of my teaching jobs were gained due to having someone inside the school being able to vouch for me. One principal explained in detail to me how that's normal practice. They want to avoid disastrous teachers and this is one of the first filters.
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Kevin Keefe
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I've been teaching high school since 1999. From what I read, both articles are largely right. There is no teacher shortage in affluent areas; they have the money and the public will to support their schools and teachers, and professionals will stay there. Rural and inner-city schools are hurting for teachers because they generally cannot pay enough for a teacher to support a family without supplementing with another job, they have no funds for the classroom, or no public support for increased salary or funding to keep talented staff or to implement what best practice requires (low classroom numbers, team teaching low-achieving classes, etc).

There's a severe brain drain. Lots of new teachers will not stay in the profession due to ridiculous amounts of paperwork demanded by state or federal mandates and the ever-present need for better test scores. They can make more money doing something else. Others who have too much time invested or would lose too much to leave now will stay, but are losing funding in the classroom and suffer stagnant wages. We have less kids going into education at college, and I can't blame them. The federal and state focus on applying the business model to education has seriously hurt kids and schools as well.

Our leaders at the state level here in Ohio have done a great job of demonizing public schools in favor of charters, even though charters routinely perform at or below what the public schools have done. At this point, it's difficult for districts to get levies passed on ballots in be able to fund new buildings or even take care of existing structures, let alone to be able to pay competitive salaries.


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Trey Chambers
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Current educational philosophy in the U.S.:

Lower student standards in the classroom and be maximally accommodating to the students "needs", while at the same time hold teachers and students at impossibly high standards based solely on standardized test scores.

Now if that isn't setting everyone up for failure, I don't know what is.
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Neil Carr
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One thing that also leapt out at me in terms of the articles is that while there can be imbalances in where the shortages are compared to surpluses, it isn't going to be that easy for teachers to move from one part of the country to another to pursue incentives. Lots of teachers are going to be part of a dual income household and so you can't easily uproot both jobs and move, plus you have certification transfers across state boundaries, and retirement benefit packages have to be navigated.

 
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Xuzu Horror
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Definitely agree that one can't say something as simple as "we need more teachers" or "we have too many teachers".

The issue is a combination of location and type of teachers.

It seems that an answer may be to pay teachers in certain areas of study (science/math) or willing to work in certain areas more to attract them into the most needed areas, which may work for the area of study, but not for location with our current system.

The locations that people tend to gravitate towards less are those the least able to increase wages (have lower low tax base either due to low population density and/or low income levels in area).

This has been an issue a long time. Most teachers I have known who have worked at such a location used it as a base from which to get hired to a different position later (typically higher income suburbs).

The only way I can see it working is to have state or federal subsidize the most needed locations that do not have the tax base (modified to the the cost of living in the area). That's a big burden for those outside the area and would likely be heavily resisted by the right.

Also, there is the chance that to attract the best teachers, the other areas with a better tax base would just raise the wages even higher - essentially playing chicken, but ensuring the best still go to them.

This last point is the one that is the most troublesome.

It does not mean that no subsidization would work as it would at least help to retain teachers looking to make a livable wage as that would at least retain those that make career changes due to low wages, but it would not help to even out the talent between high income/urban and low income/rural.

Rural tends to be a mixed bag from what I've heard. It completely depends on the area, especially since just a handful of local and awesome teachers can make such a big difference. Some prefer rural life so you still do get great teachers that wish to live where they live. It's getting new people that's the issue. (which in no way means they don't have issues too, just that the schools will vary more drastically than low income urban schools). And please correct me if I'm wrong here as I know so few who went to rural schools so I have far too few data points and only from a few states.

Low income urban schools are a different issue since you can much more easily live in a high or low income neighborhood but work in a completely different one (even within a single city the areas vary quite a bit). So, one can strive for the good school districts with better pay, less crime, etc.
 
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Chengkai Yang
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Not a teacher but I do recall seeing a notice for more teachers up in SF. Comment being was they couldn't retain any at 70k starting due to COL in the area. The newer plans in the Bay Area seem to also include some sort of subsidized housing proposals for teachers to address supply issue. In terms of public education and standings it's always been a mixed bag with some being very desirable - enough for a family to rent in the area for 4 years of HS, to pretty average and parents choosing private schools.
 
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Guido Van Horn
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Our district had 28 open positions with zero qualified applicants about 3 weeks before school started, most of those positions were filled by locals that are in the middle of their schooling and were mostly raided from out thin substitute pool. That is more than last year.

Anyone who thinks the fact that a nice school district gets excessive applications from every graduate and other teachers hoping to move from their terrible districts proves that there isn't a shortage of teachers doesn't understand job markets.

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Corey Hopkins
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I taught for a couple of years in Indiana and hated almost every second. It could be because I'm not cut out for teaching, but I never was really given a chance.

I started out on several sub lists, then I got a full-time job teaching physics and chemistry. I had studied math in college, but I had passed the Praxis exam for physics to add it to my license. I had found that being licensed in several areas made it much easier to get a job.

After teaching physics and chemistry for a year, I moved over to the math department. Then I realized what it was like to have the administration breathing down your neck. Math scores count for school performance metrics, but instead of offering any kind of support (being a 2nd year teacher, and my first year teaching math) the principal just bullied and harassed me until I had to take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds to sleep.

I work at a bank now. It's pretty boring, but I make more money and I don't feel like a failure.
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Xuzu Horror
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chopkins828 wrote:
I taught for a couple of years in Indiana and hated almost every second. It could be because I'm not cut out for teaching, but I never was really given a chance.

I started out on several sub lists, then I got a full-time job teaching physics and chemistry. I had studied math in college, but I had passed the Praxis exam for physics to add it to my license. I had found that being licensed in several areas made it much easier to get a job.

After teaching physics and chemistry for a year, I moved over to the math department. Then I realized what it was like to have the administration breathing down your neck. Math scores count for school performance metrics, but instead of offering any kind of support (being a 2nd year teacher, and my first year teaching math) the principal just bullied and harassed me until I had to take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds to sleep.

I work at a bank now. It's pretty boring, but I make more money and I don't feel like a failure.


Wow, crazy. That's really too bad considering it's an area that they are often short on.

I didn't really discuss the excessive focus on scores (since others had brought it up), but I want to at least be clear that I agree that the current system is not a good one for testing.
 
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Xuzu Horror
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But, not to trivialize the issue - I do not know what the best alternative would be either.

One wants a way to show improvement/decline, but that movement could be many factors external to the teacher as well so to put such pressure on them is too far.

And, for a new teacher, that's a really tough issue. You want to try as hard as you can to prove yourself while dealing with this type of pressure. I can definitely see how harsh that would be.
 
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Guido Van Horn
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chopkins828 wrote:
I taught for a couple of years in Indiana and hated almost every second. It could be because I'm not cut out for teaching, but I never was really given a chance.

I started out on several sub lists, then I got a full-time job teaching physics and chemistry. I had studied math in college, but I had passed the Praxis exam for physics to add it to my license. I had found that being licensed in several areas made it much easier to get a job.

After teaching physics and chemistry for a year, I moved over to the math department. Then I realized what it was like to have the administration breathing down your neck. Math scores count for school performance metrics, but instead of offering any kind of support (being a 2nd year teacher, and my first year teaching math) the principal just bullied and harassed me until I had to take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety meds to sleep.

I work at a bank now. It's pretty boring, but I make more money and I don't feel like a failure.


My first year teaching I had a really demanding principal, I think in his heart he thought he was trying to helpful, but he drove away a lot of new teachers and even established teachers couldn't wait to leave the school. It stinks when what you really need is encouragement and support and all you get is the feeling that they hate you are that you aren't good enough. There were 6 first year teachers at our school that year all 6 left teaching or moved schools. I moved schools and my new administrator is fantastic. I never feel like my failures are permanent or that she doesn't believe in me, which is an important feeling in a profession where no matter what you do, you feel like you are short changing at least one kid in your class.
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Walking on eggshells is not my style
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K-12 teachers are not the best and brightest as the OP states. They tend to be competent. There's no reason to overstate it. They tend to be nice people who are good with children. That's fine. They also tend to be fairly lazy. But we can't mention that. Only a bigot dares to point out that you have never met a teacher who doesn't list summer vacation as one of the top 2 reasons for being a teacher.

But that is neither here nor there. Threads about teachers tend to get bogged down with some mutual agreement on part of the participants that every teacher is Mother Theresa, and a real discussion never occurs.

Many aspects of education have been federalized. Teachers unions demanded it. School districts welcomed it. They got it. Now they are seeing the downside of gov't strings. Paperwork and arbitrary goals become secondary to education. Teachers WANT to teach. They can do it. Don't micromanage them from DC and the state crapital. That's a major turn off for attracting competent teachers into the profession.

Step 0 is to eliminate the US Dept of Education. Then and only then can communities start to figure out how to fix their schools in a way that works for their community.
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Trey Chambers
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Koldfoot wrote:
They also tend to be fairly lazy. But we can't mention that.


No one mentions it because it's not fucking true.

I've taught for 11 years, I've known hundreds of teachers, and I don't know any teachers that just "enjoy the summer" and do nothing else. They take professional development, they plan for next year, they teach summer school, they work other jobs, they take care of family members...etc.

We're not propped up on couches being fed grapes by our servants or whatever else your warped brain envisions.
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Michael Carter
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Shampoo4you wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
They also tend to be fairly lazy. But we can't mention that.


No one mentions it because it's not fucking true.

I've taught for 11 years, I've known hundreds of teachers, and I don't know any teachers that just "enjoy the summer" and do nothing else. They take professional development, they plan for next year, they teach summer school, they work other jobs, they take care of family members...etc.

We're not propped up on couches being fed grapes by our servants or whatever else your warped brain envisions.


Maybe, but a they also don't have it as hard as they like to say they do.
 
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Trey Chambers
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mlcarter815 wrote:
Shampoo4you wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
They also tend to be fairly lazy. But we can't mention that.


No one mentions it because it's not fucking true.

I've taught for 11 years, I've known hundreds of teachers, and I don't know any teachers that just "enjoy the summer" and do nothing else. They take professional development, they plan for next year, they teach summer school, they work other jobs, they take care of family members...etc.

We're not propped up on couches being fed grapes by our servants or whatever else your warped brain envisions.


Maybe, but a they also don't have it as hard as they like to say they do.


You know this? You've taught at least a year?

And if so, isn't possible that YOU were just a lazy teacher?
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Michael Carter
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Shampoo4you wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:
Shampoo4you wrote:
Koldfoot wrote:
They also tend to be fairly lazy. But we can't mention that.


No one mentions it because it's not fucking true.

I've taught for 11 years, I've known hundreds of teachers, and I don't know any teachers that just "enjoy the summer" and do nothing else. They take professional development, they plan for next year, they teach summer school, they work other jobs, they take care of family members...etc.

We're not propped up on couches being fed grapes by our servants or whatever else your warped brain envisions.


Maybe, but a they also don't have it as hard as they like to say they do.


You know this? You've taught at least a year?

And if so, isn't possible that YOU were just a lazy teacher?


I know what a teacher has to do and compared what with what I have to do as a software engineer, it's nothing.
 
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Trey Chambers
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mlcarter815 wrote:


I know what a teacher has to do and compared what with what I have to do as a software engineer, it's nothing.


Spoken like someone who has never had to corral 30 kids at a time, 7 hours a day, all while teaching them to be smarter, better people at the same time.
 
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Walking on eggshells is not my style
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Shampoo4you wrote:
mlcarter815 wrote:


I know what a teacher has to do and compared what with what I have to do as a software engineer, it's nothing.


Spoken like someone who has never had to corral 30 kids at a time, 7 hours a day, all while teaching them to be smarter, better people at the same time.


All teachers are Mother Theresa.

Any other thought on the matter needs to be quashed.

That's all they've got. Throw more federal money at them.
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