School is almost back in session, but how many teachers will there be leading the classrooms?
Teacher shortages are an issue not just in Pennsylvania, but nationwide.
School district Superintendents all agree this is an educational crisis.
Jeff Boyer the Ferndale school district Superintendent,
“I will say I have been a school administrator now for twenty-three years and this is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”
And Jeff Boyer from the Ferndale school district isn’t the only one with this point of view.
Shane Hazenstab the Conemaugh Valley school district Superintendent told us,
“From the state level, in the past year compared to like ten years ago the state certified about one third of the number of teachers then they had ten years ago. So that obviously impacts the state and it filters to our area as well.”
In an April report, The American Assosication of Colleges for Teacher Education said there were more than two hundred thousand undergraduates studying education in the seventies.
In 2019, there were fewer than ninety thousand.
“We can’t find a certified chemistry teacher candidate. We advertised in as many places as we could. I’ve even contacted local universities and the local universities I.U.P and U.P.J haven’t had a chemistry graduate in years.”
School superintendents say they’ve seen a greater decrease in staffing since the pandemic began.
A statement on the U.S. Department of Education’s website reads,
“Throughout the pandemic, many districts have faced significant challenges in attracting and retaining teachers, and preexisting teacher shortages in critical areas”
Charles Prijatelj the Altoona area school district superintendent,
“Shortage of teachers is causing, its creating a sellers market among teachers. Which means they can get bigger paycheck elsewhere and it makes it harder for solid middle of the road school districts to retain staff and now we have positions to fill.”
The pandemic is not the only reason for the teacher shortages.
The superintendents I talked to agree, teachers leave the profession not just because of the pandemic related issues. But also because of pay.
“There are phenomenal opportunities in all other aspects of the economy. I have teachers leaving to get twice the pay elsewhere, not in education.”
Hazenstab added, “Its much different then its been you know in the past eight or ten years. Its more challenging, its more difficult, and we do the best we can with the applicants we get.”
With only a few more weeks until the starting bells ring, school officials are still hopeful many of the positions get filled.