Something often missed in public discussions about education is how do we continue to fill the pipeline with an adequate supply of teachers. Truth is, the decline in young people seeking to become educators is very real as pointed out in this article from the Education Writers Association.
I was with a small group of folks from Washington several years when we visited with a group of 12 AP students at Clay-Chalkville high school in the Birmingham area. One of the out-of-state visitors asked if any of the students were interested in going into education. Two quickly responded. Both were the daughters of teachers.
“No way,” they said. Both related how much time their moms spent with their jobs, both at school and at home. The advice of both mothers was the same, “don’t do it.” I’ve heard this over and over when visiting schools.
When we demonize teachers and our education system, when we have highly-organized campaigns intent on turning the public against their local school system so that someone can reap a financial benefit by offering a quick fix, when policymakers who know little about schools insist on passing laws that have scant merit, we’re becoming our own worst enemy.
Here are article highlights.
We all recognize teaching as an opportunity to change lives and remember the teachers who made a difference for us. But weigh that intrinsic satisfaction against low wages, little public respect and an ever-growing workload, and the minuses often win out. And now that a rebounding economy offers more professional options, our country faces a serious challenge to educating the next generation.
Stephen Sawchuk, an Education Week associate editor who moderated the event, analyzed enrollment in teacher preparation programs. He found declines in the key states of New York, Texas and California, where the number of teaching candidates went from 44,692 in 2009 to 26,231 in 2012. This comes amid imminent Baby Boomer retirements that will create more teaching vacancies and new state policies that make it harder to enter teaching in the name of raising standards.
ACT vice president Steve Kappler presented these grim findings that corroborate the Education Week conclusions:
- Fewer students are interested in teaching. Only 5 percent of the 1.85 million U.S. high school graduates who took the ACT in 2014 said they intended to pursue a career as an educator. That’s down from 7 percent in 2010.
- Teaching is failing to attract top talent. Students interested in education have below-average achievement on the ACT, particularly in math and science.
- Prospective educators don’t reflect the diversity of American classrooms. Nearly 75 percent of those interested in teaching — and almost 95 percent of those interested in early childhood and elementary education — are female, and 71 percent are white.