Today teachers are not paid a lot and as a result there has been a shortage of teachers, especially good, qualified ones. Until teacher salaries are raised and teaching comes to be a desirable profession, teacher shortage is going to have a negative impact on both teachers and students. Teacher shortage is bad for students because it means an increased number of students in class. Teacher shortage is bad for teachers because larger class sizes mean more students to be responsible for and more papers to grade. Currently, most teachers are older men and women.
Today there are an average of twenty teachers per district retiring ever year (Perrin). But what is going to happen when those teachers retire? Who is going to fill all those positions? Most likely, it will not be education majors currently enrolled in college because everyday, education majors are changing their majors. Teaching does not seem like a desirable profession due to the low salaries and strenuous work load. After spending thousands of dollars to earn a college degree, college students want their degree to work for them.
They do not want to work a high hour, low paying job when they know they could be out making good money at an entry level computer job. Until teacher salaries are increased, things are only going to get worse. Already, many of the teaching jobs are held by substitutes, many without college degrees, and that are not always experts in the field in which they teach. With the current teacher shortage, large class sizes are just going to get larger. The problem does not sound serious right now, but what will happen when those students are doctors, teachers, or presidents years down the road?
This is a serious problem that could have a very negative impact on our nation’s future. So, what are we doing to address the teacher shortage? Right now, recruiters are going out of the country to find qualified teachers. Recruiters are mainly tapping into India, Russia, Canada, and Spain for new teachers. While it seems like a good idea, school districts are paying high dollar to fund these recruiting trips. Districts often even have to pay a finder fee of up to five thousand dollars per teacher. They also must sponsor them for special visas, help them with housing, and hold orientations to ease the cultural transitions(Lord).
Perhaps a better alternative wouldbe to use this money to increase teacher salaries. Paying for the new teachers is not the only problem with this idea. Even while the foreign teachers might be experts in their fields, what are they going to teach the students if they students can not understand them? Also, a teacher from India is not used to walking through a metal detector every day before work. Classroom discipline may also be a critical issue. Indian students tend to be more orderly and respectful. When an Indian teacher walks into a classroom, they expect the full attention of the class.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case today. In this kind of case, I think it is bad for the students and the teacher. The students may not be able to understand the teacher. The teacher may not be ready for the type of students that they are going to see. So, what do we need to do about teacher shortage to make people want to go into teaching? The teachers need to be paid more money. According to Jared Bernstein, an NEA official, most teachers are underpaid at least five thousand dollars a year, based on their education skills, even taking into account summers off.
Teachers are even more underpaid in Missouri. With the national average at just over forty thousand dollars per year, the Missouri average is just under thirty-five thousand dollars per year. So if most teachers are underpaid five thousand dollars, Missouri teachers are underpaid about nine thousand dollars per year (Bernstein). The First Lady, Laura Bush is even trying to help solve the nation’s education problem, vowing to go to college campuses and military bases to recruit desperately needed new teachers. She and President Bush are even going to try to set an example by teaching in classrooms.
The First lady used to teach second grade and holds a master’s degree in Library Science. A program has started called Teach for America becauseit is estimated that over thenext ten years the United States Education Department will need over two million teachers (Perrin). The program encourages college graduates to make a minimum two-year commitment to teaching. Another plan the First Lady and the President are committed to is the Troops to Teachers program. This plan is to recruit qualified teachers that are retired members of the military.
Many of the retired members have degrees in science, math, and engineering. Plus, they bring something to schools that is desperately needed, discipline. Bush believes in the Troops to Teachers program so much that he plans to increase spending from three million dollars to thirty million dollars on the program (Killian). The teacher shortage is really a serious problem. But, I really do feel that the necessary steps will be made to move in the right direction. The change will not happen overnight though. Great ideas to come up with new teachers, especially the Troops to Teachers plan, are being pursued.
Many of the retired military members are overqualified for the jobs. Their discipline in the classroom is much needed. The bill they are working on could be a good idea. The bill gives the districts more freedom with the money, which could be a good or a bad thing. They could use the money to hire good teachers, or they could use the money to build better facilities for the schools. The answer is not to go to other countries to find teachers because it costs too much money to go recruit teachers. Why not just use that money to increase teacher salaries?