Sorry, yes, I know, I missed a few days…I’m not usually one to make excuses but, it has been a long time since we’ve had a break, and frankly my energy level is not where it should be. So, anyway, sorry about the delay. I know you all have been anxiously awaiting the answer to the next question. Should, we as educators, be worried?
Should we as educators be worried? Of course we should, but a little worry is a good thing. It serves as a motivator, pushing us to be irreplaceable. Some may ask, why should we be worried? Well simply stated, the time will eventually come that a teacher is a device, a computer, or some form of artificial intelligence. In the future programs like Siri will be teaching or kids.
There are other reasons to be worried. Like these statistics form the Huffington Post
First, teacher demand is growing:
- Student enrollmentsare projected to grow by 3 million (to 53 million total) in the next decade, driven by higher birth rates and immigration.
- Pupil-teacher ratiosare projected to shrink from an average of about 16 to 1 back down to prerecession levels (about 15.5 to 1). A small shift in class size can have a noticeable impact on teacher demand, requiring an additional 145,000 teachers overall by 2025.
- Teacher attritionremains at a high of 8% annually. Two-thirds of leavers depart before retirement age, most because of dissatisfaction with aspects of teaching.
Meanwhile, teacher supply is shrinking.
- There are fewer new entrants,with teacher preparation enrollments having dropped by 35% between 2009 and 2014.
- Although re-entrantswho are former teachers typically comprise one-third to one-half of hires in a given year, the number willing to return is currently not enough to make up the difference.
The article goes on to list these reasons for the decline.
- Teacher salaries have declined substantially since the 1990s and are so low in more than 30 states that a teacher heading a family of four is eligible for several forms of government assistance,including free or reduced-price school lunches for his or her own children.
- Inequalities in school funding across the country translate into unequal salaries and working conditions that make it difficult for under-resourced districts to compete in the labor market for qualified teachers. Currently, as historically, students in high-minority schools are 4 times more likely to have uncertified and inexperienced teachers than those in low-minority schools.
- Decades of shortages in fields like math, science, and special education have been periodically alleviated when incentives (such as training subsidies with service requirements) are applied to recruit and retain these teachers. Most of these incentives have disappeared with budget cuts. Even though the supply of teachers is picking up slightly in other fields, there’s been little upswing in the fields where we have the greatest need.
- One-quarter of teachers cross state lines at some point in their career, and many leave teaching when they do, because of the problems in transferring licenses and pensions.
- Teachers are leaving at a much higher rate than they did in the past (8% per year) and at much higher rates in high-poverty communities. Most leave due to dissatisfactions with teaching, ranging from accountability pressures (e.g., teaching to the test or having their schools threatened with sanctions) to lack of administrative supports to working conditions. Without changing these conditions, many communities will be in a continual process of trying to fill a leaky bucket with newly recruited teachers who quickly leave.
All of the stated reasons are true, but what I feel is the root cause of all this is the public’s perception of what teaching is. I do not know of a single teacher that enters the profession to become rich. While a larger, more comfortable salary would be nice, for me at least, it is not a reason to be concerned.
Frankly, teachers in general have not really done much to persuade the general public that teaching is perhaps the single greatest influence on the future health of our country. Generally, when asked, the public feels educators get too much “time off”. They feel we don’t really do much more than baby sit and read from textbooks. We need to convince the public otherwise. We need to show them all of the amazing alternative programs that educators have developed. We need to spotlight the progress that has been made integrating technology into our students lives. But most importantly, we need to build a better system that develops our students and makes them ready to face the challenges of the 21st century and beyond. We need to get everyone excited about the possibilities!
So should we be concerned? Yes, of course we should. That being said, the future is bright, all we have to do is embrace it!