Southwest Ohio has a strong need for teachers, according to a recent Ohio Department of Education report, and low beginning pay, childcare and respect for teachers is being cited as obstacles to fill these positions.
The report, which looked at the needs of teachers across the state, found a few areas of concern, including:
- An increasing percentage of teachers are now teaching courses they don’t have a proper certification for.
- Around 20% of all the teachers in the state have less than five years of experience.
- More people who have teaching certifications are no longer teaching but may have taken on an administrative role or left the profession.
Aly DeAngelo, senior executive director for the Center for Performance and Impact at ODE, said one of the biggest takeaways from their research was that the teacher shortage is regional. Areas like the northeast and central parts of the state do not have the same problems as others, like the southern half of the state, who are struggling to find enough professionals to work in their schools.
Shannon Cox, the Montgomery County Education Service Center superintendent, said the teacher shortage issue is showing up even in districts that can pay high salaries and have good benefits. Officials for Centerville schools, a district with a lot of money and prestige, have said before they are now seeing a smaller talent pool when the district wants to hire a new candidate.
“We’ve always had urban shortages,” Cox said. “We’ve always had rural shortages. Now, we’re just seeing shortages across the board.”
Kathie Lucas, spokeswoman for Valley View Local Schools in western Montgomery County, said the pool of applicants is smaller but the district has been able to fill the open positions.
During a presentation at a March state board of education meeting on the teacher shortage, those who performed the research said in 2022, there were 216,442 credentialed teachers in Ohio. But only 138,186 were working in schools, and 110,147 credentialed teachers were teaching.
Carolyn Everidge-Frey, senior executive director at the Center for Advancing Professional Supports in the Ohio Department of Education, said given the significant drop in test scores, particularly in reading and math, among young students, getting qualified teachers in front of the students will be key to helping those students who are struggling.
A qualified teacher will be trained in classroom management and getting students to pay attention, while a teacher who has been licensed alternatively may not have those skills.
Cox said one of the reasons for the many qualified teachers who aren’t in the profession is a lack of childcare. For some people with young children, it has been cheaper in the past few years for one parent – often a woman - to stop working and stay home with children. And women make up about 75% of teachers, according to ODE.
Fewer kids in public schools have led to historically low teacher to student ratios in public schools, noted DeAngelo.
That’s because parents have enrolled kids in homeschooling and private schools, and Ohio’s birth rate has been relatively low since 2015 compared to other states and barely rose in 2021 after hitting a low point in 2020, according to U.S. Census data.
The ODE staffers who worked on the report told the Ohio State Board of Education they felt they had more data to find out, such as why those who have an active license are not currently working.