Local, state, national strategies target teacher staffing concerns

The number of people getting education degrees has declined, and there are shortages in some specific areas

Many local schools and the state of Ohio have already been thinking long and hard about how to get more teachers into the classroom, but a new proposal from the Biden administration may add some programs and support to what already exists.

Biden’s plan includes working with private job sites, raising wages, strengthening programs that train teachers and working with state and national teachers’ unions to expand programs that push students towards jobs in education.

The state and local region already have many initiatives, though. The Ohio Department of Higher Education announced $5.2 million to Ohio colleges and universities earlier this year to strengthen teaching programs. Dayton Public Schools announced a plan to get high school sophomores to take classes in education, with an opportunity to go to Central State University for a bachelor’s in education and teach at Dayton Public.

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“This is really important, to make sure that we’re attracting and keeping caring, qualified and committed people as educators,” said Scott DiMauro, Ohio Education Association president. “It’s essential for students’ success in the long run.”

Attracting enough teachers to the profession is proving to be a top priority for many school districts, along with hiring enough bus drivers and substitute teachers.

Dayton Public Schools has been holding monthly job fairs to attract more workers, especially bus drivers. DPS chief of human resources David Harmon said the district also held weekly walk-in interviews during the summer.

“Both efforts have been successful,” Harman said. “We’ve seen excellent candidates come from both avenues.”

Harmon said the district was particularly looking for more intervention specialists (those who teach special education) and bus drivers.

A new paper from Brown University questions exactly how many K-12 teachers quit during the pandemic, arguing the data isn’t good enough to say exactly how many schoolteachers left. But it’s clear that there’s been a decline in the number of people going into the teaching profession, and many current teachers are frustrated with the teaching climate.

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Ohio Department of Higher Education data shows a decline in the percentage of people getting degrees in K-12 education from public colleges. That number dropped from 9.6% of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in Ohio public universities in 2009 to 6.3% by 2018.

In that span, the number of bachelor’s degrees awarded across all fields rose from 38,493 to 49,963. But the number of education degrees went in the opposite direction — from about 3,700 a year through 2014, into a year after year decline that hit 3,180 in 2018.

Special education teachers and those who teach STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are particularly needed, according to ODHE.

Here are some of the local and state initiatives to get more people interested in teaching:

  • ODE continues to develop the Human Capital Management Resource Center, which provides guidance and tools for district administrators and central office staff to attract, hire, retain and support teachers and other educators.
  • With the Diversity Recruitment Educators Association for Miami Valley, or D.R.E.A.M, any district in the area that wants to work together to recruit more teachers of color to the profession could do so. The initiative has a $70,000, three-year grant for the project.
  • The Montgomery County Educational Service Center has a centralized system where any candidate can apply to multiple jobs in more than 70 districts and county education service centers at the same time, through the same portal.
  • Ohio recently reduced the requirements for a person with a lapsed license to return to the workforce. Renewing a lapsed Professional License now requires nine semester hours, reduced from 12 semester hours. Teachers with a license lapsed for more than one year who find employment can be issued a one-year license valid for teaching in the same manner as their previously held licenses. While employed, teachers complete reduced requirements to reinstate their professional license.

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