Addressing K-12 teacher shortages and improving workforce development are top of mind for state higher education leaders as the 2023 legislative sessions begin, according to a new survey from the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association.
Roughly 95% of surveyed higher education leaders called those issues either important or very important. Filling out the remaining top five most important issues were state funding for financial aid programs, state operating support for public colleges, and the value proposition of higher education.
Worker shortages during the pandemic fell hard on the teaching profession. An August working paper from the Annenberg Institute at Brown University estimated 36,000 K-12 teaching positions are vacant and roughly 163,000 roles are filled by underqualified teachers.
These issues are critical to higher education, SHEEO notes. Colleges rely on the K-12 system to prepare students for their curriculum. Meanwhile, colleges are also responsible for helping graduate more qualified teachers.
State lawmakers are attempting to address these issues. Michigan lawmakers, for instance, recently approved a 2023 state budget providing $305 million to pay tuition and other costs for people who want to be teachers, The Center Square reported.
The online survey was sent to 61 SHEEO members in late November and closed in mid-December.