As of August 2022, there were 360,000 fewer educators in America's public schools since the pandemic! This startling stat comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and represents an overall drop of more than 10% (source).
And what's more concerning than having less teachers in classrooms, less bus drivers, less cafeteria workers?
Well, this doesn't appear to be ending any time soon! Let me explain.
In the early 1970s, 10 to 13 percent of US college freshmen entered the next stage of their life intending to major in the field of education. Prospective teachers entering college dropped to 4.3 percent as of 2018.
We have a demand, but not much of a supply! Currently, we fill just over 0.54 employees in the field of education for every open position. (source)
And even when a school wins the battle to obtain an educator, that educator may still face some challenges that will inevitably impact the school's retention of this prized educator.
A few years ago I shared THIS post on social media.
It garnered a lot of attention on my Instagram page (a whopping 65 comments and 258 likes, which was a wild accomplishment in my world at the time) because it resonated with many educators. While the stat that I shared stated that around 30 percent of teachers have jobs outside of being a teacher, 100 percent of those comments were from teachers sharing their second jobs (source). Many stated that they required these second streams of income to supplement their teaching salaries in order to live.
So it should come as no surprise to learn that 55 percent of educators were considering leaving the profession at the start of this year (source).
And now the latest stats from the Bureau of Labor Statistics have confirmed this, right?
Social media (or the news) may have you believing that this is all the result of us educators leaving the field in droves.
âCheck out some of these headlines!
"Overworked, underpaid? The toll of burnout is contributing to teacher shortages nationwideâ (USA Today, 12/21/22)
"Teachers leaving their profession at an alarming rate since the COVID-19 pandemicâ (WXYZ, Detroit, 11/23/22)
"Why teachers in America are leaving the profession in drovesâ (PBS News Weekend, 8/20/22)
And while we all have considered quitting at least once (sometimes once a day for some of us), teachers are actually far more likely to stay in their job than the typical American worker, according to the statistics. There is actually little evidence showing teachers running out of the school doors and even less evidence suggesting teacher turnover has increased. In reality, our quit rates for this past year were similar to all employees in the nation.
So what's the problem then?
The challenges are related more to hiring, especially for non-teaching staff positions. Anyone else's district actively recruiting bus drivers, paras, and substitute teachers?
We got a ton of covid money, created new much needed positions from literacy coaches to reading specialists to social workers, but we can't hire. And why?
Because no one is applying! This means that for some districts, students have fewer or less qualified instructors. And worse?
Fields like special education and bilingual education are critically short on teachers nationwide.
In March 2020, 8.1 million people were employed by US public schools. By May 2020, this number had fallen to 7.3 million. However, since that time, we have increased our number to 7.7 million strong. This is where we get that 360,000 fewer educators statistic. It's the difference between where we started and where we are. But just because we have pinpointed the issue, it does not change the deficit.
So call us gluttons for punishment, awesome people, or something else, many of us are here to stay and help our students achieve.
We can't do it alone, though. We need a bigger team to accomplish our mission. But how do we do that when the number of prospective future educators are dwindling?
Comment below and tell me - how would you end America's teacher shortage?
You can also check out the conversation on Instagram!
Happy & Healthy Teaching!