Teacher Shortage Data Shortage

School is about to start, so it’s time to dust off those teacher shortage stories and spread them around the Internet again. Last week we got the obligatory entry from Motoko Rich of the New York Times, headlined “Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble (Credentials Optional).”

As is the case with most of these stories, the Times had plenty of anecdotes coupled with statistics about enrollment in colleges of education. It lacked a few things, like the number of teachers hired (and compared to previous years) and the number of applicants (and compared to previous years) and the growth or decline in student enrollment and whether these were newly created positions needing to be filled or old ones left vacant due to retirement or dismissal and… well, you get the idea.

Rich reported that California districts need to fill 21,500 slots this year. In the same paragraph, she notes that the state “lost 82,000 jobs in schools from 2008 to 2012,” but she never puts the two figures together. What happened to those 82,000 laid-off workers? Were they vaporized? Did every one of them stand on the schoolhouse steps, shake a fist at the building, and vow never to return? Were they all called back and these are new openings? Who knows? Who cares?

Here’s a different story from the Journal News in New York State: “Of the teacher candidates certified in 2011-12, only 28 percent had found jobs in New York public schools more than a year later.”

Want more recent numbers? Well, you can’t have them because the state education department stopped updating them, and won’t answer the reporter’s questions about them.

It appears there is – and probably has always been – an oversupply of elementary education teacher candidates and a shortage of those in math, science and special education.

The teacher colleges say it’s not their job to inform students of their job prospects. Whose job is it, then?


One thought on “Teacher Shortage Data Shortage”

  1. I was one of those California teachers who “lost” their job in 2009. I moved out of the state to find a teaching job elsewhere. Now California has a teacher shortage due to the economy finally getting better and that Jerry Brown was able to get a referendum through that helps fund education in the state. However, once the economy goes to crap again and there is no money left, you can bet for sure that there will be no more teacher “shortage” in California.

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