PAINESVILLE, Ohio — School districts across the country continue to struggle with shortages in nearly every area of Education, leaving many to fill open positions in unconventional ways.
"They just want, honestly, warm bodies to be in the room to try to have an adult there controlling children," said Case Western Reserve University Director of Teacher Education Denise Davis.
The numbers for 2022 are, so far, similar to last year’s numbers, as the pandemic-led exodus from teaching continues to be felt nearly 3 years after COVID shutdowns. Nearly 17,000 fewer people in Ohio work in Education now than before the pandemic, according to Ohio Education Association.
"Starting after the pandemic, there’s been increased recruiting from the private sector from this talent base that are our teachers," says Case Western Reserve Economist Professor Michael Goldberg.
In a recent Education Week report, half of Educators said they are ready to leave their teaching job earlier than planned, only 10% would “strongly recommend” a young adult go into teaching, and low pay is one of the top reasons the teacher shortage remains.
"Many of these districts are cash-strapped themselves, so where’s the money gonna come from to try to pay more to these teachers?" asks Goldberg.
"And that is everywhere, and there are no subs," adds Davis.
Substitute teacher numbers, already on a slow decline before COVID, dropped sharply after it hit. Painesville School District is considering a drastic step to draw in substitutes.
"It would be a 1-year, temporary, short-term, non-renewable substitute license for those who are non-degreed. The number of substitutes in Ohio has decreased about 70% since 2018, so this is a crisis," says Painesville Superintendent Josh Englehart.
"There aren’t very many people out there to come in and do substitute work, and, of course, we as districts are all competing for the same very, very limited pool of people."
Many teachers are working through contracted breaks to help fill the need. Support staff and teachers in training are also picking up the slack.
"The state just initiated a bill to allow veterans to get a teaching license now, with no training at all. That’s where we are," says Davis, referring to Senate Bill 361, currently being considered, which would drop most of the requirements for vets to become teachers, including a degree, license or background in Education.
The future of teaching in Ohio doesn’t look so bright either. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs has dropped by half since 2010, and Education went from #3 pick out of the top-10 college majors just 15 years ago to #8 this year.
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