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US: Falling application rates for teaching jobs

Is the state teacher license exam is too difficult in Minnesota?
EdChron Desk on September 10, 2014 - 4:22 pm in MAIN, Opinions, U.S., World

 

WORLD / U.S. – Teacher applications and enrollment in teacher education programs is down across the country. The reasons vary from few general teacher job openings to administrative challenges to low school district budgets.

North Carolina

Isaac Groves of the Time-News mentions low teacher pay in North Carolina compared to other states as a detractor to joining the teaching profession. He reports that the shortage in North Carolina, in particular, could grow in the near future since enrollment in teacher education programs is down, and more teachers are finding new lines of work.

One example of how much the teacher job situation has changed recently is that Burlington’s school district received 1,756 teacher applications between January 1 and July 8, 2014. This is down from 2,845 last year and 3,633 in 2012. The numbers might look worse than they are, however, as teachers often send cover letters and resumes to principals before they even submit an online application.

At the University of North Carolina, enrollment in graduate and undergraduate education programs fell 7 percent between 2012 and 2013, which translates to about 1,300 fewer future teachers.

Minnesota

Minnesota’s rural districts have also seen teacher applications plummet. The superintendent of the Stephen-Argyle school district, Chris Mills, mentioned that only eight people applied for a job this fall in a September 2014 interview with Tim Post of Minnesota Public Radio. Ten years ago, this rural district would have seen 80 to 100 applications for the same job.

The number of students who finished a teacher education program in Minnesota fell 16 percent between 2009 and 2011, according to the Minnesota Department of Education.

Some theories about why teachers are not applying for rural jobs in Minnesota are that young teachers would prefer to work in larger cities, and that the state teacher license exam is too difficult. Low salaries and more emphasis on teacher performance may be making some choose other professions.

California

Swing the spotlight to California, and you’ll see similar trends, noted an EdSource.com article by Louis Freedberg in September 2013. A California Commission on Teacher Credentialing report found that 26,446 students enrolled in teacher prep programs in the 2011-2012 school year, down from 77,700 ten years before.

In California, reasons for the drop may include the massive teacher layoffs due to the state’s recent budget crisis. Additionally, finding a teaching job in general education, not in high-need areas like special/exceptional education, math, science, and English as a second language, can be difficult. (Minnesota education officials note that the situation is different there. Fewer teachers are applying for the more sought-after elementary jobs.) Teachers in California may also feel pressure from recent reforms initiated by the No Child Left Behind law and the state’s Standardized Testing and Reporting program.

As the economy picks back up in California, teachers who have delayed retiring will begin to do so, and the question remains whether teacher prep program enrollment will increase to make up for the vacuum left by those leaving education. Another concern, according to Douglas Mitchell, the interim dean of the UC Riverside School of Education at the time of writing of the EdSource.com article, is that teachers certified through emergency certification programs and who have little relevant training and experience will lower the quality of education students receive.

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