CLEVELAND — Universities in Northeast Ohio have taken notice to less students enrolling in education courses.
"Over the last 10 years, you've seen a big drop off in the number of these in enrollment in teaching preparation programs," says Sajit Zachariah, dean of Cleveland State University online.
Zachariah was the dean of the College of Education for 10 years at CSU and has noticed the downward trend for years.
"This is not only the state, but across the country," adds Zachariah.
This comes as the shortage for teachers looms larger than ever. 3News reported last week that the Cleveland Metropolitan School District was searching for 150 teachers. Meanwhile, the Akron Public Schools needed more than 60 teachers ahead of the school year.
"There's been a higher demand for teachers because many have exited," said Zachariah.
The director of teacher education at Kent State University, Jennifer Walton-Fisette, told 3News that teaching is not looked at as a viable profession.
"Teachers are not valued the way they were back in the 70s, 80s and 90s," said Walton-Fisette.
NBC News reports that 300,000 public school teachers and staff left the field between February 2020 and May 2022.
The experts told 3News that certain issues have caused teachers to leave the profession over the last few years. They say many retired during the COVID-19 pandemic. Others became too stressed while teaching during the pandemic. Both Zachariah and Walton-Fisette agreed that teachers have been treated poorly and have not gotten the support they need to teach.
"Last year, I think, put a lot of educators over the edge," said Walton-Fisette.
Another issue that teachers face is their salary. According to the National Education Association, the average salary for a teacher is just over $66,000 a year.
Zachariah told 3News not to look at the national average.
Walton-Fisette told 3News that the average starting salary for a teacher is around $30 to $35,000 per year.
"They're not seeing it as quite the viable career option," said Walton-Fisette.
"We want the best for our children, we want the best teachers," said Zachariah.