Nationwide teacher shortage leading to unqualified hires


(NewsNation) — A new report finds an estimated 36,000 full-time teaching positions are still unfilled, highlighting a nationwide teacher shortage plaguing the U.S.

Major cities have been grappling with fewer teachers in the classrooms, resulting in bigger class sizes and underqualified teachers instructing children.

“Every kid in Pennsylvania needs a great teacher, and right now we’re in a moment of crisis,” Laura Boyce, the executive director at Teach Plus, told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Thursday.

She has plenty of company. Only a few weeks into the school year, districts across the U.S have been dealing with teacher vacancies.

The problem is so bad that many school districts are turning to underqualified teachers, forgoing teaching certificates and formal training to get help in the classroom.

“Our students are being taught by day-to-day subs. We are bringing in teachers that are not necessarily certified in a specific content area,” Superintendent Tamara Willis of the Susquehanna Township School District said Thursday.  

It’s an issue that’s becoming more and more the norm. Alabama and Texas administrators, for example, are increasingly hiring educators with emergency certifications.

In Florida, military veterans without a bachelor’s degree can teach for up to five years with a temporary certification, while in Oklahoma, certification rules have been bent to hire more educators.

Illinois — which is down more than 5,000 teachers — and Pennsylvania are struggling with larger class sizes.

“Teacher shortages make things more difficult for us. We have bigger class sizes,” said Josamarie Scalcar, a music teacher.

It’s a situation that many saw coming: According to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s report on the state of teacher preparation, the number of people completing a degree in education dropped by nearly a third from the 2008-09 to the 2018-19 academic years. 

The biggest factor? Money: The average starting salary for teachers is $43,000. As a result, many states are now looking to increase teacher pay.

“Education is a matter of national security … we need to have an educated population in order for this country to continue to thrive as a superpower … you have to educate your population,” Boyce said.

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