If you’re a teacher, you’ve probably heard the teacher education news of the year. Florida is facing a teacher shortage due to a coronavirus outbreak. In other news, Teachers College at Columbia reported an increase in applications and a decline in enrollment. In this article, we’ll review some of the best and worst news from the past year and look ahead to what the coming year may hold for the field. Below, you’ll find the most important news in the field.
Florida teacher shortage due to coronavirus
The coronavirus outbreak has left thousands of schools across Florida short of teachers and staff. At the beginning of August, local school districts were reporting thousands of vacancies. Not only were teachers needed, but school districts also need custodial workers, bus drivers, guidance counselors, and school nurses. Florida Education Association’s job vacancies survey collected data from district websites to understand the current demand for education staff.
In Broward County, an interim superintendent said Monday that about 1,640 teachers had called out on the first day back from winter break. Miami-Dade reported that 1,340 instructional personnel would be out on Monday and Tuesday. A year ago, the state’s biggest teacher shortage occurred at the start of the semester, when students were back in school. And this year, teachers and other staff in Miami-Dade and Broward counties were out.
The current teaching shortage in Florida is particularly troubling. According to the Florida Education Association, there will be more than 5,000 vacancies for teachers and other school staff in August 2021 than in August 2019. In addition, about 40 percent of newly-graduated teachers in Florida will leave the profession within five years, which is well above the national average. In addition to the shortage of qualified teachers, low pay and the COVID-19 virus are contributing to the situation.
Teachers College at Columbia saw increase in applications
This month, the Teachers College at Columbia will welcome 1,900 new students, the largest incoming class in college history. While historically accepting career changers and recent college graduates, the College also saw an increase in applications this year. By early August, the school had received 6,082 applications, up four percent from last year and seventeen percent since 2006. This increase is indicative of more students applying straight from college than ever before.
The School of Education at American University has an interest in developing a diverse teacher workforce, as well as preparing teachers in the District of Columbia. In fact, its new dual enrollment program with Teachers College at Columbia may help fill those vacant classrooms. According to Levine, there are more than 6,000 applicants for teacher education programs, and many young people believe that the increased number of applications will boost the city’s teacher shortage.
One recent change in Teachers College curriculum was to emphasize reading independently. Lessons were broken down into manageable chunks for students, so that students could understand them. Teachers College curriculum encouraged early-grade students to use context clues, but these methods have drawn criticism. While the school curriculum may change in the future, the fundamental premise of its curriculum isn’t. In this climate, the stakes are high.
Teachers College at California State University reported drop in enrollment
The decline in teacher enrollments is likely the result of a number of factors. On top of the list is the budget crunch that began in 2008, which resulted in 30,000 layoffs, sending a message to future teachers and the profession as a whole that the job is not as reliable as it once was.
However, analysts point to less tangible factors, such as changes in the evaluation of teachers, more rigorous academic content standards, and the perception that educators are to blame for the recession.
Enrollment by race/ethnicity also declined slightly over two years, but overall it was down 0.2 percentage points from the previous year to the next. Black and Latinx students accounted for almost 12 percent of enrollment growth, while Native students accounted for a drop of 0.7 percentage points. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health reported a similar decline in enrollment. The drop in enrollment was even more pronounced among students from underrepresented groups.
The decline in enrollment among teacher candidates was pronounced for whites, while the decrease was slightly smaller for Latinx and black candidates. While this decline is still significant, it’s an encouraging sign, as there are more underrepresented groups entering higher education than ever before. With more students from underrepresented groups enrolling in higher education, we have a shortage of qualified teachers to fill the ranks. This problem should be addressed and solutions made accordingly.