“One in three teachers leave the profession within their first five years,” said Herring, who is the National Education Association (NEA) Student Program Chair. According to Herring, some new teachers find the pay too low, the hours long and the profession lacking the respect it once enjoyed. Add to this the fact that baby boom era teachers are retiring in record numbers, conditions for a “perfect storm” are being created, affecting school districts throughout the region -- especially in urban areas.
Loy Woelber, Superintendent of Walnut Grove Schools says that the teacher shortage in rural areas has more to do with finding teachers in the right subject areas. He finds himself asking existing teachers to stretch themselves to cover more than one subject. “What we're going to see more of is schools with variances, community expert waivers, just trying to get some good people into the classrooms,” said Woelber.
Michelle Beach teaches at SMSU which provides online, evening and summer classes for nontraditional or returning students who would like to pursue licensure as teachers. Student teaching experiences are adapted to meet individual student needs. “It is one way that institutions are stepping up to address the acute problem of teacher shortages,” said Beach. “The nontraditional students who are able to obtain teacher licenses through this program are grateful and passionate teachers who become a real asset to their communities,” she added.
Viewers with story ideas and issues they would like to see discussed on Compass are encouraged to contact Pioneer Public Television via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or to call the station at 1-800-726-3178.
Last week’s Compass program about Changing Ag Storage & Transportation can be viewed online at www.pioneer.org/compass.