An educational crisis is a crisis of capability; the only resolution is learning and transformation. The superior solution is to learn, grow, and develop new capabilities.
Some Fall 2022 Teacher Shortage Crisis Updates
At the start of the 2022 fall semester in U.S. schools, there were what is considered 'massive shortages' in Texas, Nevada, Florida, and Arizona. Other states also reported a continuing concern with their teacher shortages and were trying a number of ways to help counter their shortages:
- Nevada started school with a shortage of over 1,400 teachers.
- Florida is recruiting military veterans to teach without a license.
- Polk County, Florida, hired 60 international teachers.
- Georgia, with little success, attempted to recruit retired teachers.
- Texas' rural school districts went to a 4-day work week to help alleviate their shortages.
- Houston, Texas, started school with over 2,200 teaching vacancies.
- New York City tried new investments: (1) recruiting retired teachers; (2) accelerating the teacher certification process.
- Daly City, California, offered affordable housing to their teachers with greatly reduced rent prices.
- The exact number of teacher vacancies in California was not available. Officials already knew there were over 13,000 persons working with substandard credentials.
Fact: Numerous Teacher Preparation Programs Have Closed.
Over 60 teacher preparation programs in universities and colleges across the country have dropped their programs. In comparison, this is a small number out of more than 1,300 such programs. Many others have experienced the above-mentioned losses, and many are hanging on by a thread to continue.
- What has changed to improve the existing pipelines or provide new ones for preparing new teachers for our schools? However, recent legislation approval has resulted in what some call putting 'bandages' on the open wound (problem) rather than developing new pipelines. These practices have been expanding in more states as shortages have continued to grow.
Fact: Two Example States
The state of Oklahoma announced in September of 2022 that their teacher shortages had once again grown. School districts representing 77% of the student population in the state had 1,019 vacancies. This was the highest in their nine years of surveying the schools. This has led to a record number of emergency-certified teachers needing to be hired going into the fall semester.
What appears to be the future for Oklahoma in getting more certified teachers? There were no encouraging signs that things were going to get better anytime soon.
The present fact remained that there were 1,019 teacher vacancies going into the 2022 fall semester.
The North Carolina Supreme Court in 2004 presented the following relative to staffing classrooms throughout the state:
Staffing each classroom with a competent, well-trained teacher is vital to
providing students with the "sound basic" education guaranteed under our
This appears to be still a dream proposal when one looks at the opening of the fall semester of 2022. Teacher shortages were obtained from across 98 of the 115 state school districts by the North Carolina School Superintendents' Association. They reported 4,469 teacher vacancies to start the year. This was with 17 districts yet to report!
Two years earlier, 2020-2021, the shortages were registered at 3,800. This included data from all 115 districts. Three years prior, 2019-2020, the shortages were recorded at 1,829. This equates to a 244% increase over the three-year period. It is certain now that the North Carolina teacher shortage situation is in a major crisis.
Adding to this serious situation is the number of teachers who were reported in the fall of 2022 working with ‘provisional emergency licenses.’ The number had doubled to 3,618 from 1,942. Similar stories are being documented in most of the other 48 states. The teacher shortages are a long way from being solved. Retirements, low pay in many school districts across the country, and poor working conditions are cited in most reports on why persons are leaving teaching.
Solution: An Expanded Teacher Pipeline.
Over 1,200 community and technical colleges across the country could quickly provide a new and more robust expanded teacher pipeline.
Early Start: Dual Credit
Secondary school students can get an "early start" on college work if their school has a dual-credit partnership with its local community college. Such courses are a relatively safe testing ground for college-level work and get the student thinking about post-secondary education.
Thus, a dual-credit course, such as Introduction to Education, can provide the first step on a path to post-secondary education and a choice of a major. It has become important not to wait until high school students start higher education before recruiting them to become teachers.
Early Start: Educators Rising
Educators Rising is a national program proving to attract significant numbers of secondary school students to start learning about teaching as a career option. After receiving a state grant in the summer of 2022, Illinois has invested in a statewide license for Educators Rising. This makes it possible for all secondary schools to participate in this important teacher recruitment program.
Solutions: Senior Colleges, Universities, and Community College Partnerships
A second level in preparing these new teachers presently being implemented involves new partnerships with community colleges and close-by senior colleges or university institutions. For future teachers, it involves having secondary school students take introductory education classes. They can be enrolled in them as dual credit classes. Next is enrolling in their community college to complete an associate degree. Then comes transferring to a senior college or a university that is partnering with the community college to complete their teacher preparation.
This model presently exists in Illinois through career and technical education (CTE) grants from the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) and a program called Scaling Education Pathways in Illinois (SEPI). These pathways provide an affordable path to the Baccalaureate Degree in Education. They also find they include a much better chance to draw a more diverse population from the secondary schools within each community college district.
Sending university or senior institution faculty to the community college campus is a variant of this model. It provides a continuation of involving the partner universities and senior colleges. They will now be offering the junior- and senior-level coursework needed for the completion of the baccalaureate in teacher preparation.
One such partnership has been established between Elgin Community College and Northern Illinois University. This program has already graduated one cohort of licensed teachers in elementary education with a bilingual/ESL endorsement. These newly prepared teachers are given priority in hiring in their local K-12 districts.
Solution: California Community College Baccalaureate Degrees
Constant Carroll, former chancellor of the San Diego Community College District, is credited for starting the baccalaureate degree programs in California community colleges. They are presently limited to only those baccalaureate degree programs that the university would approve. She is still working hard to have these baccalaureate degrees expanded into the many teaching areas that the state is short. She has more recently been quoted as follows:
I will continue my efforts to ensure that, just like Florida, California can have its community colleges offer bachelor's degrees without limitation.
She has since added that:
I will not rest until the state allows the community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in education.
Fact: Graduates of the California community college baccalaureate degree programs have averaged between $10,000 and $10,500 total for tuition for all four years. This has drastically cut back the need for student loans. The large majority of these students live in their own homes, have families, and/or have jobs.
Solution: Florida Community College Baccalaureate Degrees in Education
Florida was the first state to pass legislation allowing their state community colleges to start offerings in Baccalaureate Degrees in Teaching. A total of 27 of their Community Colleges now offer Baccalaureate Degrees in Teaching.
Some of these community colleges have been ‘re-named’ as ‘state colleges’ because they now offer baccalaureate degrees. They are, for the most part, still community colleges.
The following is a sample of some of the large and some of the smaller Florida community colleges and what they offer:
- BS Teacher Education in Exceptional Student Education
- BS Teacher Education in Middle Grades Science
- BS Teacher Education in Secondary Biology
- BS Teacher Education in Middle Grades Mathematics
- Bachelor of Science in Teacher Education in Secondary Mathematics
Daytona State College
- BS Elementary Education
- BS Exceptional Education
- BS Secondary Biology Education
- BS Secondary Chemistry Education
- BS Secondary Earth/Space Science Education
- BS Secondary Mathematics Education
- BS Secondary Physics Education
Miami Dade State College
- BS Early Childhood Education
- BS Exceptional Student Education K-12
- BS Secondary Science Education
- BS Secondary Mathematics Education
- BS Teacher Education in Elementary Education K-6
- BS Teacher Education in English Education
- Bachelor of Science in Teacher Education in Exceptional Student Education
- BS Teacher Education in Middle School Math Education (grades 5- 9) and Mathematics Education (grades 6-12)
- BS Teacher Education in Middle School Science Education (grades 5-9) and Biology Education (grades 6-12)
- BS Teacher Education in English Education
- BS Elementary Education
- BS Early Childhood Education
Fact: Insufficient Teacher Pay
"A recent RAND survey of teachers who voluntarily left teaching during the pandemic found a full 64% of respondents said their pay wasn't sufficient to merit the risk or stress. Offering more competitive compensation is an important strategy for both retaining current teachers and recruiting new ones."
Proposed Solution: Bonding for Raising the Salaries of Teachers Across the Country
- To date, no other known proposal has been offered that would adjust teacher pay upward off of dead center.
- Low salaries are cited at or near the top of almost every study on why teachers leave the profession. Salaries continue to lag behind most other professions with the same education levels.
- Bonding or expanding the existing laws would give all school districts the same opportunity to bond to meet their particular needs. This program would not require all school districts to participate. Some districts have adequate pay, while others would greatly benefit from having this option available.
- Bonding for salary adjustments leaves the decision up to each school board to decide.
- The bonding for school improvements or new school buildings would not be possible for many school districts without the legislation that was passed to allow for it.
Outcomes That We Can Expect From Bonding for Salary Adjustments
- Teacher salaries would become more competitive with other professions.
- Early teacher retirements should slow down dramatically.
- Schools would be better able to retain and draw in high-quality certified teachers for every grade level and in all subject areas.
- Better salaries would be a major encouragement for many more students to consider entering teaching as a career choice.
- Teachers would regain pride in themselves and their profession!
Bonding for salary adjustments should offer school districts a short-term solution that could be put into action very quickly. A longer-range solution should also be worked on that would eventually allow school districts to move out of bonding and provide an ongoing system that would avoid the type of crisis that has developed over the past decade.
Now is the Time to Move Into Solutions Beyond Current Facts
Teacher shortages in every state have continued to grow over the past several years.
Besides adding 'patches,' legislative solutions have been difficult to identify. The previous pipelines for preparing teachers have been unable to keep up and have experienced enrollment declines. A few have even closed out their programs due to insufficient enrollment.
There are other significant concerns beyond the new pipeline that need to be dealt with by school boards and administrators across the country; for example, teacher pay, working conditions, and other concerns identified in almost all recent studies.
Community colleges have been proposed as a practical solution for the future. Florida has provided examples of teacher preparation programs that community and technical colleges can provide. Additionally, community colleges can contribute to increasing the number and diversity of a future cohort of K-12 educators by serving as a central cohesive component. It provides a pathway from high school dual credit education classes to the completion of a teacher preparation program at a senior institution.
The solutions for teacher shortages via community and technical colleges are available throughout the country in the backyards of all American school districts!
About the Authors
Dr. Greg Rockhold (email@example.com) served on the National Association of Secondary School Principals Board, was president of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators, and executive director of the New Mexico Association of Secondary School Principals. He also served as the lead reviewer for an NCATE accreditation team. In addition, he began the first native oral language class in New Mexico with a historic tribal council's blessing. Dr. Rockhold is also a former Marine.
Dr. Hans Andrews (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a Distinguished Fellow in Community College Leadership through Olney Central College in Olney, Illinois. He is a former college president and started the first dual-credit program in the country between community colleges and secondary schools. He was also a business teacher in two secondary schools.
Dr. William "Bill" Marzano (email@example.com) is a former academic administrator at Waubonsee Community College in Sugar Grove, Illinois. In addition, he is an adjunct faculty member in Management for Aurora University in Illinois and a former psychology professor at Illinois Valley Community College.