What education headlines should say in 2024 vs. current realities

There is much to be done before teacher shortages are under better control and new common-sense solutions are installed.
Hans A. Andrews and Greg Rockhold
Hans A. Andrews and Greg Rockhold
Dr. Hans Andrews is credited with starting the first dual-credit program in the country between a community college and secondary schools in Illinois. His work helped set the standard for the rest of the country. He is presently a distinguished fellow in community college leadership and is past president of Olney Central College in Illinois. Dr. Greg Rockhold has served on the National Association of Secondary School Principals board, was the president of the New Mexico Coalition of School Administrators, and was the executive director of the New Mexico Association of Secondary School Principals. He also served as a superintendent.

Over the past decade, the teacher shortage crisis has grown in the United States and many other countries. There is much to be done before the situation is under better control and new common-sense solutions are installed. Here, we offer the headlines and stories we hope to see (in italics), followed by what presently exists.

K12 schools across America link up with community colleges

In a critical decision to address the teacher shortages, the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the National Association of Elementary School Principals, and the National Superintendents’ Association have engaged the American Association of Community Colleges to quickly address the 55,000 teacher shortages nationwide.

At present: These three national education associations, the National School Board Association, and the Community College Trustee Association, hold the key.

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By pushing quickly at this time, they can draw in a significant number of the nearly 1,200 community and technical colleges to provide baccalaureate degrees in those teaching areas with the most severe shortages. It has not yet happened at this time.

10 state community college systems approved to offer baccalaureate degrees in education

The national movement to overcome teacher shortages received a significant boost early this year. Ten states have passed legislation allowing their community colleges to develop and offer baccalaureate degrees in those areas most in need of teachers, and another 15 states have legislation pending to do the same.

At present: Florida is the only state that has started addressing its teacher shortages by allowing 27 community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees in education. Two other states, Washington and Oregon, have recently included baccalaureate degrees in limited teaching areas.

Several states have now raised their beginning teacher salaries to a high enough level to draw in new students who see education as a career

At present: The Teacher Salary Project, under the direction of Dr. Ellen Sherratt, has been seeking a $60,000 base salary for beginning teachers. Legislation is underway and being developed in Washington, D.C., at this time, but there appears to be much more work before such legislation will come to bear. The goal of the nonpartisan Teacher Salary Project is to raise awareness around the impact of our national policy of underpaying and under-valuing educators. They are committed to working with everyone in the country to ensure teaching becomes the prestigious, desirable, financially viable, and professionally exciting job we all know needs to be.

The National Education Association listed the starting salary average across the country at $42,845 for the 2021-2022 school year. For the top-paid teachers, the average was $77,931. In October of 2023, the starting salary average was $43,309. In many states, starting salaries were still in the mid-to-high $30,000 range. These salaries are still much too low in comparison to what is needed.

School districts nationwide report that licensed teachers are now teaching their students of color and students from low-income communities

At present: Black and Latino students are disproportionately impacted by the difficulty most states face in hiring special education and bilingual teachers, according to a report by Advance Illinois.

The number of teachers entering early retirements slowed down considerably.

This is, in large part, due to much improved salaries and improved support from school boards, parents, and administrators.

At present: More teachers are planning on early retirements, and others are considering moving into new careers. Low pay and lack of parental and administrative support are near the top of every survey conducted in the past few years. Overloading teachers with extra classes and activities has created heavy stress, leading more teachers to leave.

Teachers have been removed from the heavy extra classroom teaching and other duties. Along with a much better salary schedule for seasoned teachers and improved support from school leadership, many ‘early retirement’ teachers are seriously considering moving back into teaching. This will be a big boom for those hundreds of thousands of K-12 students who have recently had numerous less-than-qualified persons attempting to teach them.

In the fall of 2023, Arkansas Republican Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders signed the LEARNS Act into law, which increased the minimum salary for public and charter school teachers from $36,000 to $50,000.

Moving forward

Improving salaries is now becoming one of the leading areas being considered across many of the United States. Education leaders across the states have started proposing to improve wages for their teachers, substitute teachers, and other school personnel. The above ‘proposed headlines’ should be of value to many different countries as they look for similar ways to start overcoming their teacher shortages. The time is ripe now to move into solutions to this significant crisis area in education worldwide.

Together, K-12 and community college leadership will eradicate teacher shortages nationwide within 3-5 years.

At present: It is now time for the U.S.’s educational leaders to come together and aggressively attack the teacher shortage, which has created major problems for hundreds of thousands of K-12 students who have been left without quality/qualified teachers.

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