by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Recently, a college acquaintance passed along a Lancaster Online article titled, “Schools scrambling to find substitute teachers.” In it, administrators in Lancaster, Pennsylvania area school districts complain about difficulties finding reliable and qualified substitute teachers.
The substitute shortage in Pennsylvania originates from a problem that may sound familiar to North Carolinians. There is a teacher shortage in the state. According to the article, “In 2015, only 6,215 state residents sought teaching certificates, down 62 percent over just three years. The number of certificates awarded in 2012 was 16,361, according to the education department.”
What may surprise some is that there is a shortage despite the fact that Pennsylvania’s average teacher salary is the tenth highest in the nation at nearly $65,000 a year.
In fact, many states that offer attractive salaries and compensation packages to teachers have struggled to fill vacancies.
Liberals, known to never let a good crisis go to waste, have used the shortage as an opportunity to attack education reform efforts, including charter schools, vouchers, teacher evaluation, standardized testing, right-to-work, and tenure. It also gives them a chance to revisit claims that public schools are underfunded and teachers are disrespected by [insert name of political enemies].
But the fact that shortages occur in big-spending, reform-averse, and/or unionized states suggests that the problem is much more complex than leftists care to admit.