A new piece from the 74 explores the lagging enrollment in teacher preparation programs at the university level, as well as steps teacher ed is taking to ward off local shortages. Excerpts from the piece appear below:
The pandemic has exacerbated a troubling national trend: Fewer potential teachers are entering the profession.
Nearly every state lost a large proportion of teaching candidates between 2010 and 2018, according to a Center for American Progress report — and the pandemic has further strained traditional colleges and universities programs, many of which face declining enrollment and were forced to recently cut staff.
Experts believe a combination of economic and social factors are contributing to the decline: High stress working conditions, restrictions and political influence on what can be taught and low wages. In some parts of the country, the acute teacher shortage has been in part attributed to too few teaching candidates in the pipeline. Declining community college enrollment and transfer rates, a common pathway for low-income, Black and brown teachers, have also affected pipelines.
Simultaneously, public perception of teachers during the pandemic have been overwhelmingly negative, intensifying disinterest in the profession.
Carole Basile, dean of Arizona State University’s teacher’s college, agrees, observing the emotional toll of the current climate is steep. She believes it will take much more than recruitment efforts to bolster pipelines and make the profession desirable and sustainable. It may also take a cultural shift in how Americans see and invest in public education.
“We can’t keep preparing them, even if we change our preparation program, to be more flexible and accessible if we don’t also help schools to change to keep them,” said Basile. “It’s a pipeline issue, but then it’s also ‘we’ve got to change schools.’ It’s not okay that teachers sit in their cars crying in October.”