WASHINGTON DC — As schools across the country grapple with teacher shortages, a new surveillance report sheds light on the areas most affected and why schools are dealing with the problem.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report states that “negative perceptions of the teaching profession and perceived lack of support for current teachers are among the top recruitment and retention challenges.”
“There was a set of overarching challenges that came up time and time again, particularly the negative perception of the teaching profession as well as a lack of respect for current teachers in general,” said Jackie Nowicki, GAO’s Director of Education, Workforce , and Income Security Team.
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The report says schools in urban and rural areas are feeling teacher shortages the most, along with western states and schools primarily serving minority students.
He said some subjects are also harder hit by teacher shortages, such as foreign languages, science and special education.
“As an eighth grade science teacher for more than 30 years, I have watched this chronic shortage of educators,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association. “But the reality is that the pandemic, like everything else, has made it worse.”
Pringle said she traveled the country telling teachers why schools were facing a shortage of teachers.
“What the educators told me was that they felt a lack of respect,” Pringle said. “When I asked them what it meant to them, they told me something that I wasn’t surprised to hear. For them, respect felt like being treated like the professionals they are. Be able to make teaching and learning decisions for their students. To ensure that they can, for example, teach the complete history of this country.
The report says the US Department of Education has taken steps to address the teacher shortage.
The GAO is calling on the Department of Education to do a better job of tracking the effectiveness of federal resources to help address the issue.
“We’re asking them to develop a way to know when they’ve been successful,” Nowicki said. “What does success look like? So they lack a way to know how they know their initiatives are working. »
In response to the report, the Department of Education said it “agrees that teacher shortage is an important issue and appreciates GAO’s attention to it.”
“From the earliest days of this administration, we have taken substantial steps to address the teacher shortage through advice, technical assistance, discretionary grant competitions, budget requests, presentations and additional information on the department’s website, including a section titled “Elevating the Teaching Profession,” wrote Mark Washington, deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education.
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