As kids return to school Ohio is dealing with a teacher shortage that could get worse

Published: Aug. 12, 2022 at 7:53 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio - As kids prepare for the start of another school year they are, hopefully, well prepared with supplies from backpacks to laptops and some of those same kids are certainly hoping to land in the classroom of a favorite teacher or two.

But in some cases, students should just be hopeful of landing in a classroom with a full-time teacher as the state is dealing with a significant shortage of teachers that really, according to some, should not come as much of a surprise.

Scott DiMauro, the President of the Ohio Teachers Association, the largest teacher’s union in the state, said Ohio is down 17,000 students from just 3 years ago and that number is part of a 15-year trend that has seen fewer and fewer students making education a choice as their college major.

“If somebody’s going through college and they are getting a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree, schools have to be able to pay salaries that will entice people into education,” DiMauro said.

Pay, along with benefits and working conditions for teachers are not keeping pace with what students have available to them, post-graduation, in other fields and he thinks the problem is going to continue to grow.

“There are some districts that are struggling to fill open positions and other districts I’ve talked to that are reporting that they have much smaller pools of candidates than they did before,” he said.

The Cleveland Municipal School District just finished up what they said was a successful recruiting effort to bring in more teachers.

In June, the district had 254 teacher openings but in just the past few weeks were able to hire over 100 teachers and are now down to 150 openings, which certainly sounds like a lot, but the district points out that they are 95 percent staffed and many of those openings are for specialty classes which are traditionally more difficult to fill.

Bob Scott is the superintendent of the Avon Lake schools and said the district has fared very well hiring teachers, but it was not an easy process and the candidate pool was certainly not as robust as he has seen in the past.

“The teacher shortage is real and it is going to get worse, we’re at that point right now where retirements and people leaving the business is not being met by the people coming out of college who are qualified to teach,” Scott said.

Pay, Scott believes is clearly the number one issue and districts must be able to financially compete for the best and brightest students before the trend will be slowed.

DiMauro agrees but also stresses that working conditions for teachers and programs that properly align student teachers for the reality of today’s public schools are a must to make sure there will be enough teachers to staff schools even in the near future.