Fewer students choose education as teacher shortage looms

Posted at 8:20 PM, May 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-26 22:26:16-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Fewer students are choosing to go into the education field as schools across America are seeing an increased need for new teachers.

According to Dr. Deborah Boyd, Dean of the College of Education for Lipscomb University, fewer students are applying for degrees in education. Specifically, the youngest students aren't interested in those careers.

"We're seeing a significant trend nationwide where fewer and fewer people who are entering the traditional teacher preparation programs at the freshmen, sophomore level in college," she said.

Retention is a problem at K-12 schools. According to a spokesperson for MNPS, the typical turnover rate is around 16-percent.

Data from ACT Research shows the interest level of high schoolers dropping for education majors. Dr. Boyd said it's likely related to pay.

"Teachers' salaries are an important issue, especially in a period of economic growth," said Boyd. "In a shortage area like math or science when someone with a math and science degree can make twice as much doing something different. Then, it takes a special type of person to choose to teach."

Specialties are the most difficult positions to fill. Special education teachers as well as those in ELL classrooms are hard to come by.

Tennessee isn't doing well compared to the national average, either.

According to JC Bowman, with Professional Educators of TN, the state will have to increase pay to keep competitive with others.

"It's a national issue but I think Tennessee is on the tail end. So, they're going to have to recognize there are problems," said Bowman.