Where Have All the Teachers-in-Training Gone?

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Yet another article about the drop in the number of students in the nation's teacher preparation programs. Nationwide, the number has slipped from 725,518 in the 2009-10 school year to 465,536 during the 2013-14 school year. That's a 36 percent drop. The bit of good news is, the downward slide leveled out a bit in 2013-14. The numbers still went down, but at a slower rate.

The enrollment decreases at UA and ASU are similar, though a bit less dramatic. At the UA College of Education, enrollment went from 1,135 in 2009 to 900 in 2013, a 21 percent drop. And if I'm reading the numbers right on the ASU website, the numbers at the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College are down from 3,756 in 2009 to 2,737 in 2013, a 28 percent drop.

None of this bodes well for dealing with the dual problems of filling current classroom vacancies and replacing teachers who will retire or just plain leave the profession over the next few years. It's hard to improve the quality of the teacher workforce, which everyone would like to see, when there aren't enough teachers moving through the teacher preparation pipeline just to take care of current vacancies.

It gets kind of old saying this, but . . .

  •If we don't pay our teachers a wage which is close to salaries earned by others with a similar amount of college education;
  •If we don't provide funds to keep our school buildings in working order;
  •If we don't provide funds to buy classroom supplies and technology;
  •If we continue to berate teachers for educational failures which have more to do with socioeconomic conditions than what they're doing in their classrooms;

We won't attract enough people to the profession, let alone the best and the brightest of the current generation. Which means the public-education-haters will continue to convince people that our schools are failures and don't deserve adequate funding, which means the problems facing schools, especially schools working to educate the hardest-to-reach students, will escalate.

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