Montgomery County teachers look to social media to fill teacher vacancies

Heather Jauquet

Teachers skeptical as MCPS relies on a cadre of substitutes to fill vacancies before 2022-2023 school year starts

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On August 22, Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) will hold its preservice week for teachers. Several schools across the county are looking to fill in gaps left by the inordinate number of retirees and resignations. During the August 8 media briefing, MCPS Superintendent Dr. Monifa B. McKnight shared the steps taken to alleviate the number of vacancies the county still has to fill.

Steps to recruiting teachers include

  • Providing virtual information sessions
  • In-person job fairs
  • Recruiting at the Montgomery County Fair
  • Seeking job applicants at universities

Despite the recent media briefing sharing that 98% of staffing has been filled within the county, teachers have turned to social media advertising vacancies within their schools. In addition, despite teachers returning to their building in less than two weeks, some schools still have significant gaps within their teaching staff, especially in special education.

Past the usual timeline for involuntary transfers, MCPS took to moving teachers from fully staffed schools and transferred them to schools with a large number of vacancies. As a result, teachers who began their summer with a secured position in one school may have found their teaching assignments changed with little notice. In addition, teachers share concerns about continued last-minute changes with less than two weeks to the beginning of the school year.

Pleas on social media

Teachers looking to support and find the best teachers for their schools have taken to sharing positions and recruiting one another to work in their building. After the lack of transparency last January surrounding the numbers of staff and students affected with COVID, teachers are skeptical that the school system can follow through on having every position filled. Therefore, teachers have taken to social media, highlighting their schools as the place to work and filling the positions with highly qualified teachers who will provide an equitable education to the more than 160,000 students within the county.

MCPS rely on substitute teachers to fill the gaps

On August 8, during the media briefing, Mr. Travis Wiebe, the Director of Human Capital Management, said MCPS will “…continue to rely on our excellent cadre of over 3500 substitute teachers that exist with the system, many of who are retirees.”

However, teachers scoff at the idea that substitutes will be the answer to the teacher shortages citing how difficult it was to get a substitute during the 2021-2022 school year. While in-person teachers had difficulty finding substitutes, one MCPS employee told NewsBreak many substitutes preferred supporting the virtual academy classes. Most of the available 3,500 substitute teachers in the system chose to teach virtually rather than in person; begging the question, how many substitutes will come to in-person classrooms?

During the 2021-2022 academic year, if a subsitute could not be secured for the day, many schools were forced to split students into same grade level classrooms, exceeding the number of students to provide adequate physical distancing from one another.

Teacher shortage predicted. Steps to hire may be too little and too late

In response to the August 8 press conference, Montgomery County Education Association President Jennifer Martin says that MCPS’ current staffing crisis is due to MCPS “dismissing proposals to address staff burnout.” With more than 1100 teachers not only retiring but also leaving the profession for better pay and work environment, will MCPS be able to retain the teachers they do hire? MCPS teachers question if the county can meet their needs for a healthy work environment and hire highly qualified certified teachers to meet the needs of their students. Martin points out that the departure she predicted earlier in the year “…leaves the existing staff to shoulder the additional burdens.”

What do you think of the teacher shortage? Will MCPS be able to fill the vacancies, or will it be up to the teachers to pick up the pieces? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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Certified educator K-12 and Reading Specialist with a focus on the adolescent brain. I write about how educational decisions affect parents, students, and staff. As an educator and parent I also focus on community events for the whole family.

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