By Carole Richards
I began teaching in December 1970 before I received my degree. There was a real teacher shortage and the State of Ohio allowed me to teach without a degree or certification. I completed both by June. By June 1971, the teacher shortage began to dwindle. Some of my classmates and friends couldn’t find teaching jobs. While I didn’t research why, I suggest that men were trying to stay away from Vietnam with a teacher’s deferment.
In 1985, I opened North Coast Education Services and began hiring teachers. I quickly learned that many prospects could not find teaching jobs. Yet, our teacher colleges continued to crank out new teachers.
Fast forward to 2017 and we continue to interview 150 to 175 prospective tutors each fall. I bring up the topic of a “faux teacher shortage”. Since we conduct initial interviews in groups, this leads to a discussion. Some individuals have multiple degrees and teacher licenses, yet they have not found a teaching job in a school.
Some potential tutors consider returning to college for a master’s degree hoping this will lead to a teaching job. I suggest they investigate this idea further because most school districts do not elect to hire master’s level teachers because they must pay a higher salary. I often see several heads nodding and agreeing the financial investment of another degree may not be a good idea. All of my research over 32 years in business is informal and by research standards is anecdotal.
Kate Walsh, President of the National Council on Teacher Quality, wrote an opinion piece in the Washington Post on December 2, 2016. She states, “neither states nor the federal government collects the information that would be needed to pronounce the onset of a true teacher shortage. … over the past 30 years, programs graduated 175,000 to 300,000 teachers each year. Yet school districts consistently only hire between 60,000 to 140,000 newly minted teachers.”
In Ohio, teachers must pass a series of exams called Praxis or the Ohio Assessments for Educators. I often find many graduates have not completed exams in time to apply for teaching jobs upon graduation. Therefore they may wait a full year before applying. And their licensure expires in four years or less and they must take additional courses and pay additional licensure fees to continue being licensed. Many new teacher graduates give up and move onto different careers.
So who benefits from continuing to prepare teachers? Our colleges benefit, of course. And, they benefit again when licensed graduates must renew their licenses taking six additional credit hours at $300 per credit hour or more. This is in addition to $200 per license from the Ohio Department of Education. This is just in order to pursue a teaching job further.
So if you are considering a teaching degree, please think about what lies ahead. In teaching, select a field such as such as math, science or special education. Don’t go blindly into the teaching field without an end game plan to get a job.
Carole Richards is the president of North Coast Tutoring Services (the “Education Problem Solvers”), president of the Creative Education Institute which holds the Academic Fun & Fitness Camp, author of Richards Learning Systems® and a frequent guest on radio and TV. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.