“Finding high-quality teachers to fill classroom slots is becoming a greater challenge everywhere.”
This is not just occurring in California–we are quickly becoming a nation that shares the challenge of staffing our classrooms with qualified, caring, and competent teachers. Some states have suffered more than others, and particularly within urban and rural school districts. One major cause of this problem as I see it is that teachers are not viewed as professionals–they are often viewed as babysitters or childcare providers–and despite how caring and compassionate they are this will wear thin after a while, especially when students and parents are disrespectful and when activist groups and governmental agencies demand that teachers demonstrate their value through standardized test scores. This lack of respect extends to salaries, with teachers in many states scraping by on a paycheck that’s often just above poverty level.
Another issue is that most state departments of education continue to rely on the same regulations that have been in place forever–and they see no reason to topple their apple carts and update their expectations for preparing teachers in today’s classrooms. Licensure requirements are so onerous in some states that many individuals opt to go into the private sector.
I have developed an innovative residency-based educator preparation program that would alleviate much of the teacher shortage in high-demand areas such as mathematics, science, special education, and English Language Learning. However, until government officials understand and accept the gravity of teacher shortages, they will not be willing to partner with those who have come up with positive solutions.