Help Wanted: One Million+ Good
Women and Men
Veitch, Pi-Kuei Tu, Renee Franklin, and John Pendergrass
The United States will have to replace up to 2 million of
its current 2.7
teachers during the next 10 years (U.S. Department of Education, 1998).
New York City will need 30,000 teachers within the next five years, Maryland
will need 11,000 within the next two years (Bradley, 1998), and North Carolina
will need up to 70,000 within 10 years.
A number of factors combine to create teacher shortages.
Too few people are
teaching. Too many leave. Demographics and state policy decisions
contribute to shortages. Teachers now have more career options than ever before.
Better salaries in other professions are luring people away from teaching (U.S.
Department of Education, 1998; Feldman, 1998). Many teachers have reached
retirement age, and almost one-third of teachers has taught for more than 20
years. Close to one million teachers are on the verge of retiring (Riley, 1998).
Student enrollments are increasing. Legislators and parents are demanding
decreases in class size.
School districts and states are implementing policies to
Signing bonuses have spread to education, and several states offer
Other incentives range from contributions to housing subsidies to building
and providing teacher housing to calls for income tax reductions (Bradley,
Such measures, however, simply shift shortages from one
school district or
to another. Traditional teacher preparation programs are training more
students (WSJ/NCES, 1998), but the teacher shortage remains serious. During the
1990's, only 40,000 of the 100,000 graduates awarded bachelor's degrees in
education entered teaching annually (NCES, 1997).
Almost all states have programs that soften certification
standards to allow
hiring of technically unqualified teachers "Alternative
"alternative licensure," or "lateral entry" certificates
often go to individuals
who are willing to assume usually undesirable positions. Military personnel,
liberal arts graduates, and working professionals often qualify. Estimates are
that more than 75,000 persons have been licensed through such programs (National
Center for Education Information, 1997; Feistritzer, 1998). For example, seven
percent of Arizona's teachers are teaching under emergency licenses (The
International Educator, 1998). Various public and private organizations support
these state efforts. Programs such as Troops to Teachers, Teach for America, and
Recruiting New Teachers, Inc. assist people who wish to make a move into
More than 12% of all newly hired teachers have no
percent enter teaching without meeting state standards. More than 50,000
untrained individuals now enter teaching annually (National Commission on
Teaching And America's Future, 1996). Almost half of all U.S. teachers are not
certified in at least one of the subjects they teach. Forty percent of science
teachers and one-third of math teachers neither majored nor minored in their
teaching subject area in college (National Center for Policy Analysis, 1997).
Alternative teacher certification draws heavy criticism
1998) and is highly controversial (NCEI, 1997: 8). Critics insist
that lowering teacher qualifications is not the best way to combat the teacher
shortage. Tyndall suggests that some politicians want to loosen certification
restrictions to allow more teachers access to alternative certification
State governments may also seek to water down teacher
programs in order to
teacher preparation time. They could lower admission standards for
preparation programs. States could lower test score minimums as they did in the
1980s, relax student teaching requirements, and/or informally encourage student
teacher supervisors to minimize the standards for passing.
Some American students learn little in their school
courses because they are
by out-of-field teachers (Ingersoll, 1998). States and school districts
are relaxing degree regulations and attempting to ensure a teacher supply on the
grounds that having a "body" in the classroom is better than "no
there is no guarantee that "in-field" teachers will be effective,
degree in the subject teaching area should be considered a necessary criterion.
In order to maintain and increase the supply of teachers,
relax requirements that teachers be of good character by forgoing
state or FBI fingerprint and criminal history checks. This prospect presents
risk because schools might unknowingly hire child molesters and other criminals
particularly dangerous to children.
Certified teachers who seek to renew certifications must
education courses to refresh and update their knowledge. These
requirements might be relaxed as a means of inducing some teachers to remain.
State laws also often requires applicants to have completed and earned a minimum
number of college credits in the subject(s) that they intend to teach. Many
local school boards have established additional hiring requirements or
restrictions. It is possible that states or school boards that are accustomed to
maintaining such additional requirements will eliminate some or all of them.
State policymakers should maintain historical
certification standards. We
that hiring better-qualified and educated teachers is crucial to raising
teacher standards and thus the level of education in the country. While
alternative routes to teacher certification may be desirable, this is only true
when professional standards remain unadulterated and free from assault by
States should ensure an increase in teacher salaries.
Upgrading the quality of
requires upgrading the quality of teachers’ jobs. Well-paid,
well-respected occupations that offer good working conditions rarely have
difficulties with recruitment or retention (Ingersoll, 1998). Economic reality
demands salary increases as an effective equalizer of supply and demand
imbalances. This is the case for human capital just as it is for childrens'
toys. In places teacher demand is on the rise, increased salaries can help
relieve shortages. Policymakers should view increased salaries as a package that
provides monetary returns as well as societal respect for the profession, job
security and satisfaction, and personal and professional development. A
competitive compensation package for teachers will attract more qualified
individuals to the profession.
States should relax citizenship requirements. The U.S.
Supreme Court ruled (Ambach v. Norwick, 1979) that states may require
citizenship as a condition of teaching, and all
do. Qualified foreign teachers can provide some relief from the U.S.
teacher shortage. It is not irrational to seek outstanding foreign teachers,
particularly in major areas of shortage. For example, New York City has hired 23
math and science instructors from Austria (Steinberg, 1998) via teleconference
and seven Spanish teachers from Spain (Bradley, 1998).
States should relax residency requirements. Individual
district and state residency
are constitutional (Wardwell v. Board of Education, 1976). We
suggest that states and school districts relax residency requirements to
increase the supply of teachers. A teacher who lives in a suburb where there are
no available positions often works in another field when teaching positions
abound in a nearby urban area with a residency requirement. We understand the
rationale for residency requirements. On balance, however, states and districts
should waive such policies to increase the supply of much-needed teachers.
and future teacher shortages are real. The initiatives we promote will
maintain and increase the quality of American public education in the manner
that the public expects.
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