94% of Indiana Schools Can’t Fill Teacher Vacancies and There Is a Bunch of Reasons Why

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By Andrew Pillow

Do you feel like your school is having trouble finding new teachers? Well, you are probably right and you are not alone. According to an Indiana State University survey of school districts, 94% of respondents say they are dealing with some manner of teacher shortage.   

It appears that the shortage has actually gotten distinguishably worse as the same survey last year found that “only” 92% of districts were experiencing a shortage. Special education was also hit harder this year with the survey finding a 10% increase in the number of respondents that reported a shortage in special education roles.

What is interesting about this phenomenon, is that everyone has their own ideas about why this shortage is happening.  The great thing about Indiana State’s survey is that it left room for comments. And the comments were revealing.

Applicant Pool:

Many of the comments made reference to the lack of qualified applicants in comparison to past years.

“Teacher shortages are increasing each year as well as a lack of ample pool of qualified applicants. In addition, we continue to hear that if Indiana does not begin to treat teachers and public education better, more of our younger teachers will be leaving also.”
“Pool is shallow, quality pool is even more shallow.”
“The candidate pool is horrible.”
“Where we once had 15 to 20 qualified applicants, we are now lucky to see ANY qualified candidates, and often are taking people with qualifications less than optimal.”

Pay and compensation:

Closely related to the number of qualified applicants is the lack of, or perceived lack of fair pay.

“Pay matters more to the new generation than ever before”
“Salary is going to doom the profession”

Bigger/Wealthier Districts Poaching Candidates:

In every profession, there are the haves and have-nots. According to the survey, the have-not districts are struggling to compete.

“Teachers are moving to other districts like no other time in my career. Some are leaving in the first week of school, one left today (9-21-17). The teacher shortage is creating districts taking teachers from each other to fill slots and lots of dominoes falling from that. Some have 15-20 years and moving.”
“Big problem finding qualified teachers in all areas. Big problem having teachers recruited away from our district even after school has started.”

The comments in the survey also touched on politics and the new teacher requirements.

Read the full survey here. (Indiana State University via: Document Cloud)

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Andrew Pillow

Andrew is a technology teacher at KIPP Indy College Prep. He is graduate of the University of Kentucky and a Teach for America Alum. Andrew just recently finished his commitment as a Teach Plus Policy fellow, and he is looking forward to putting the skills he's learned to good use. Andrew has written for several publications in the past on a wide variety of topics but will be sticking to education for his role on Indy/Ed.