Help Wanted: Seeking Qualified Teachers

Feb 14, 2024 at 03:18 pm by JC Bowman

The truth is that teaching is a challenging profession that requires a unique set of skills and abilities, and not everyone is cut out for it. The pandemic worsened the problem of recruiting and retaining public school teachers.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), 86% of US K-12 public schools face challenges in hiring teachers for the 2023-24 academic year. The same report also shows that 83% of schools struggle to recruit non-teaching staff, including classroom aides, transportation staff, and mental health professionals.

Fewer students are choosing to enter the education field, while schools across America are seeing an increased need for new teachers. We need more qualified teachers in education. Improve training programs and offer incentives to attract and retain skilled educators. We must focus on retaining top-tier educators, leaving the field with better policies.

The current teacher shortage, particularly in special education, math, and science, and in schools serving marginalized students, will undoubtedly worsen due to the predicted increase in the school-going population. Colleges of Education must provide high-quality teachers for CTE areas such as business, agriculture, health, automotive, and mechatronics. Improving the skills of paraprofessionals is equally essential.

We must assess our situation honestly and provide accurate information to those considering teaching. Teaching is challenging but fulfilling.

The positive is teaching allows educators to influence their students' lives positively. It offers a consistent schedule with extended breaks throughout the academic year. Working together with students, parents, and community members is not just important; it's crucial. This collaborative approach supports professionals and helps students reach their full potential and strive towards a brighter future for our students by working together.

Good teachers are lifelong learners, building bonds with students and inspiring them to succeed. They're always in demand, and adaptable teachers should have no trouble finding a job.

The negative is teachers have many responsibilities beyond classroom duties, such as grading assignments, planning lessons, and completing paperwork. The unpredictable nature of each student and lesson demands their utmost attention, creating a challenging classroom environment.

Preparation time is often insufficient. Teachers work beyond school hours, including weekends and evenings, to meet these demands confidently. They also spend summers cleaning, organizing, and attending professional development.

Despite the crucial role of teaching in society, it is still undervalued and pays poorly. Teachers face challenges managing classrooms, disciplining students, and navigating the education system. They often work extra jobs to make ends meet. Parental support is crucial, and society should recognize and support teachers.

Education shifts constantly. Politicians force new demands on teachers, adding to their workload. High-stakes standardized tests are emphasized yearly, with teacher performance based on student scores. Passionate adults should pursue a career in education despite the negatives.

Recruiting teachers is a challenge that cannot be ignored. Addressing this issue should be a top priority for all educational institutions. Only by recognizing the gravity of the situation and working together can we find ways to tackle this problem. Schools and districts may soon need to put up help wanted signs.

Public education isn't “broken.” Public education policy is “broken,” and neighborhood public schools suffer the consequences. Many times, decades of societal issues are not addressed.  These cultural issues get laid at the feet of public schools.  Our teachers are on the front lines, and they are tired. The teacher shortage is not looming; the teacher shortage is here.


JC Bowman is the executive director of Professional Educators of Tennessee.