MADISON, WI. - With 47 states reporting a deficit this school year, the United States is facing a severe teacher shortage. States are attempting to lower qualification requirements to attract new teachers in response to the shortage affecting both urban and rural areas. A National Council on Teacher Quality report found that 23 states have reduced teacher standards over the past two years, including allowing emergency teaching certificates and eliminating assessment tests.
This approach may be problematic. For example, Heather Peske, president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, has stated that this approach is
insulting to the teaching profession and harmful to students."
In addition, the president of the Learning Policy Institute, Linda Darling Hammond, thinks that this standard reduction will only result in a vicious cycle in which unprepared individuals will leave school at a higher rate, negatively impacting student achievement.
The situation at One City Preparatory Academy, a brand-new charter school in Madison, Wisconsin, illustrates this crisis. Since opening in the fall, the school has lost five core academic teachers, and despite nationwide recruitment efforts, CEO Kaleem Caire has been unable to fill the positions. As a result, the school was forced to stop teaching 60 ninth- and tenth-grade students, including Lala Bivens, a tenth-grade student.
It was very hard when I didn't have enough teachers in my classes because we didn't really learn anything," Bivens said.
Low pay, poor working conditions, post-pandemic learning loss, school shootings, and culture wars over what can be taught in the classroom have all been blamed for the teacher shortage.
Despite the circumstances, most One City Preparatory Academy transfer students have been accepted into the Madison school district led by Superintendent Dr. Carlton Jenkins. Jenkins is concerned about the learning loss that has already begun, although he knows this will be challenging for his staff. Michael Jones, president of Madison Teachers Inc., thinks it is vital to treat teachers as professionals rather than as a "never-ending supply of energetic martyrs" in public schools.
All in all, the shortage of teachers in the United States is a significant issue that affects students' quality of education. Reducing teacher qualification requirements might not be a good idea because it could create a vicious cycle in which unprepared teachers leave at a higher rate and lower student achievement. Instead of lowering standards, states must address this issue by increasing teacher pay and working conditions.
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