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Teachers wanted: What Ohio is doing after thousands of educators left the classroom

Baldwin Wallace is one of many Ohio colleges and universities that’s seen a drop in students graduating with degrees in education.

BEREA, Ohio — The number of teachers in our children’s classrooms is at the lowest level in nearly 50 years.

Since COVID, Ohio lost nearly 17,000 people in the education field. So what can be done to climb out of that trench?

3News’ Maureen Kyle takes a closer look at the efforts being made in this edition of Education Station

School districts are hanging their hopes on young adults that their interest in becoming a teacher goes further than graduation.

Baldwin Wallace is one of many Ohio colleges and universities that’s seen a drop in students graduating with degrees in education.

In 2012, they had 102 students eligible for teaching licenses. In 2022, that number dropped to 51.

We asked six other colleges and universities, and of those that got back to us, Bowling Green said in 2013 they had 459 graduates who went on to get a teaching license. But last year, that number dropped to 374.

Ohio State University – the largest in Ohio – changed their program in 2013 to offer undergrad degrees in education. It started with only 61 students graduating and ready for licensure. By last year, that number was up to 307.

Baldwin Wallace Dean of the College of Education and Health Services Steve Dittmore says they are working to turn those numbers around.

“We have a master's degree that right now if people were to apply for, they could get a free master's degree, completely paid for through grants and scholarships that would allow them to get the requisite pedagogy and teaching information that they need in order to effectively run a classroom.”

Dittmore said he hopes that gets people who have either left the profession or have work experience in another field to go into teaching.

It’s a network the Ohio Education Association is also hoping to tap into.

Director Scott DiMauro says Ohio has twice as many licensed professionals in the state of Ohio than we actually have in the classroom -- and the recently passed House Bill 554 aims to remedy that.

“House Bill 554 is a positive step. What it does is it makes it a little bit easier for people that have already had a license, may have gotten a teaching license and never used it.”

He says it essentially removes the red tape of getting back into education, but the reasons why teachers left still haven’t been solved.

“Right now, students who are going through an education program have to pay full tuition and aren't, in many cases, allowed to have a side job when they're student teaching. We believe that's wrong. That's backwards. So we're advocating for paying our student teachers as a way of providing paid internships as an entry point into the profession.”

DiMauro says it’s not all about pay for these teachers who left. He says nationwide, teachers make 25 percent less than graduates going into other fields, but in Ohio it’s more like 14.4 percent.

Editor's note: Video in the player above was originally published in a previous Education Station story on Feb. 8, 2023.

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