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National Forum Spotlights Teacher Shortages, Threats to Equity

Tampa, Florida, is short 1,000 teachers this year. Nine out of 10 low-income schools have staffing deficits in special education. Across the United States this year, classrooms are in need of 60,000 teachers, and the number could reach 100,000 by 2018. These are among the sobering statistics presented at a national policy forum I attended September 15, sponsored by the Learning Policy Institute (LPI).

The event, “Solving Teacher Shortages: Attracting and Retaining a Talented and Diverse Teaching Workforce,” presented the latest staffing and enrollment data and what they mean for education – ranging from fewer classes and larger class sizes to the hiring of underqualified teachers. Various high-profile speakers explained that shortages are driven largely by attrition of teachers for reasons such as lack of respect and autonomy, poor working conditions, and inadequate pay and administrative support.

To help illustrate the factors affecting supply and demand across the country, LPI unveiled an interactive map at the forum depicting states’ attractiveness to teachers and equity in educator assignment, with detail available for several key indicators. See how your state stacks up here:

In addition to the supply-and-demand studies, LPI released a report highlighting teacher residencies as well as a research brief examining recruitment, employment, and retention data for minority teachers. This brief found that although recent efforts to attract more teachers of color have succeeded, the attrition rates have been particularly high for minority educators, leaving a persistent gap between the demographics of the student population and their teachers. Speakers from the National Education Association, NAACP, U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights, and elsewhere decried the ongoing racial injustice in education and discussed strategies to improve equity for all students.

While this month’s forum turned a spotlight on these serious challenges, it also presented recommendations and hope for the future. Former Secretary of Education Richard Riley pointed out successful efforts in Connecticut and North Carolina in the 1990s to improve both school staffing and student achievement. Speakers also highlighted the reports’ policy recommendations targeting key areas such as compensation packages, building a sustainable teacher supply, improving retention, and enhancing mobility.

Join the discussion! AACTE is excited to bring this critical conversation to the educator preparation community in a free webinar. President/CEO Sharon Robinson will host LPI’s Linda Darling-Hammond and Desiree Carver-Thomas along with Jennifer Robinson of Montclair State University (NJ) and Richard Schwab of the University of Connecticut. The webinar, Solving Teacher Shortages: Key Roles for Educator Preparation, will be held Thursday, September 29, 12:00-1:00 p.m. EDT. Register here.

For more information on the forum and associated resources from LPI, visit https://learningpolicyinstitute.org/.

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Sarah Pistella

AACTE Media Relations Intern