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Florida has more than 9,000 teaching and staff vacancies for the next school year

JACKSONVILLE, Florida. – Industry experts say the problem is quite simple, no one wants to be a teacher anymore. For multiple reasons, it is less and less seen as a viable and fulfilling career option.

Teach for America’s regional director said — the solution is simple — take steps to make teaching an attractive career again.

A report by the Florida Education Association showed that more than 9,500 teaching and support staff positions in the state of Florida are vacant.

It says the shortage is so vast that more than 450,000 Florida students may have started last school year without full-time certified teachers in their classrooms.

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Teach for America regional director Lakeisha Wells-Palmer says there’s a shortage because it’s hard work that not everyone can do.

“We are responsible for the academic growth and support of students on a daily basis.” says Wells-Palmer. “Teachers are with students more than eight hours a day. So the job is hard in itself.

A survey of secondary school students revealed that only 5% were interested in becoming teachers, and this survey was from four years ago.

Teacher college prep programs saw a 23% decline in participation between 2008 and 2016.

Compensation is also a concern. Although Florida has taken recent steps to increase the base salary of new teachers, the overall average teacher salary in Florida is $51,167, below the national average of $65,293.

“We are the most needed profession, but we are paid the least, we are the ones creating the next generation, the next generation of doctors, lawyers and other key professions,” Wells-Palmer said. “And teacher compensation is something that needs to be addressed.”

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To address these issues, FEA is calling on the state Department of Education to take immediate action, including:

  • Hire and train more new teachers

  • Raise salaries to at least the national average

  • Enable high-performing teachers to obtain longer-term contracts.

Another issue distracting teachers is the increased politicization of work.

Some teachers told News4JAX that ill-defined new restrictions on classroom instruction, such as law critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” policy and the “Stop WOKE” law and other recent legislation, have removed much of the professional job satisfaction.

They say a teacher’s role as a mentor and source of support for students is an attractive aspect of the profession, but one that is rapidly disappearing in Florida.

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