We Need Teachers: The Case of Mass Vacancies

The 2018-2019 school year is over and we are well into summertime. Classrooms are packed, students are enjoying their favorite summer activities, and teachers are (hopefully) in recovery mode. Administrators are looking towards the next school year, reflecting on data and setting goals.

But there’s just one problem.

As of June 15th, there are hundreds of teaching positions that have not been filled for the upcoming school year. With summer break getting shorter and shorter, there is not a lot of time to hire effective teachers and prepare them to receive students in a month or so. Dekalb County Schools have about 550 teaching vacancies. Atlanta Public Schools needs nearly 200 positions filled.

Am I the only person concerned? Why are there so many vacancies? School districts would have you to believe they are leveling the playing field by slightly increasing salaries, providing additional curriculum resources for teachers and students, as well as providing alternative routes to certification in order to eliminate those hard-to-fill areas. Districts and schools host welcome back bashes to get teachers excited and motivated about the school year, but by the end of the year, hundreds of positions are vacated by exhausted and demoralized teachers.

When will federal and/or state action be taken? Why are there no consequences for the mass teacher exodus? Time and time again, we read articles about the impact of the teacher shortage. Teachers are leaving the classroom for a variety of reasons, many of which have common threads. This is happening year after year and the number is increasing.

And like always, the students ultimately suffer. How unfair is this? In my own experience, I know the impact of teacher vacancies. A few years ago when I worked in a low income/Title 1 school, there were still positions that were unfilled. The effects of this included: larger class sizes, ineffective instruction for students, and increased workload on teachers. As a new teacher, I was already overwhelmed. I felt additional pressure because I had an overcrowded classroom.

I propose the federal government develops a well-funded special task force to get to the root of the continuous problem of mass teacher vacancies. This should trickle down to the states and districts. This critical issue needs more attention than ever. Districts need to be questioned about their constant vacancies and there needs to be additional funds and resources allocated to attempt to eradicate this problem for good. The state of public education is on the line. The success of our students is being affected. Something needs to be done!!

What else do you think needs to occur in order to drastically change the mass teacher shortage?


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