- An analysis of data from 20 large school districts found 18 began the school year without enough teachers, leaving thousands of students impacted by the vacancies at a disadvantage, Chalkbeat reports.
- In Los Angeles, for example, there were 500 teacher vacancies at the start of the 2021-22 school year, compared to only 100 vacancies when the last two school years began. And Memphis’ teacher shortage hit a five-year high with 200 open positions.
- Brown University research from 2017 shows students who start the school year without a permanent teacher learn less. Filling specialist positions like special education, math and science has been a particular challenge.
While teacher shortages predate the pandemic, COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem by driving an increase in early retirements and exits from the profession due to burnout and other concerns. In 2020, a nationwide National Education Association survey indicated 28% of educators were more likely to leave the profession early because of the pandemic. The results also showed Black teachers are 43% more likely to exit the industry early now.
There are also fewer college students pursuing a career in teaching and low pay is thought to be part of the problem. Sixty-seven percent of teachers say they need a second job to make ends meet.
The situation isn’t expected to improve any time soon. Prior to the pandemic, in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicted 270,000 public school teachers would leave the profession in the decade between 2016 and 2026.
The shortages don't end in the classroom: There is also an insufficient supply of bus drivers, paraeducators and other staff. The bus driver shortage is forcing some districts to take extraordinary measures, such as paying families to opt out of school-supplied transportation and offering $2,500 bonuses to new bus drivers.
In Massachusetts, 250 members of the National Guard were called in to ease the bus driver shortage. In New York and Maryland, governors called for easing restrictions on new bus driver hires. An Indeed job advertisement search conducted by The Hill turned up 11% more bus driver openings than the same time last year.
Many feel those in the education industry are underpaid and undervalued by the general public, as noted by Education Week. Among suggested solutions to boost interest in staff positions is the addition of healthcare benefits and other perks for part-time employees such as bus drivers and substitutes.