by Dr. Terry Stoops
Director of the Center for Effective Education, John Locke Foundation
Allana Akhtar’s Business Insider article on the teacher labor market is frustrating for many reasons. Her argument is, “The drop in teacher training enrollment suggests that issues plaguing the profession — from low pay to dwindling funding — has discouraged potential educators, exacerbating the nationwide teacher shortage.” But she offers no evidence that young adults are refusing to enter the profession because of “low pay” or “dwindling funding.” She notes, “In some states, such as Michigan, Oklahoma, and Illinois, enrollment declined by more than 50%.” Average teacher salaries in Michigan and Illinois are above the national average. And Illinois spends much more per student than most other states. Presumably, that would boost education school enrollment.
There are teacher shortages in specific subjects (including math, science, and special education) and in certain locales (rural communities, growing states). Moreover, those who wish to enter the teaching profession need not enroll in a traditional teacher education program to do so. Alternative certification programs abound, and public charter schools in some states are not required to hire teachers who have state certification.
In the end, Akhtar’s article is nothing more than a plea to spend more money, rather than an honest examination of the complexities of the teacher labor market.