By Emma Beck, USA TODAY
The nation is training twice as many K-5 elementary school teachers
as needed each year, while teacher shortages remain in the content
specific areas of math, science and special education.
trained roughly 10 teachers for every one position available, according
to an estimate by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a
Washington based research and policy group.
- In New York, about
6,500 childhood education specialists were trained in 2010 to fill the
projected demand of 2,800 in 2011, according to the state's education
department and labor bureau.
- Public elementary schools in Cherry
Hill, N.J., average 400 to 600 applicants for one full-time position;
the numbers are up to 400 for work as a long-term substitute, said
George Guy, the principal for A. Russell Knight Elementary School.
president Kate Walsh says the market is "flooded with elementary
teachers" because universities and colleges don't make the effort to
match supply and demand as other professions might do. Dean Donald
Heller of Michigan State's College of Education says it is true that MSU
does not coordinate with the state regarding how many elementary school
teachers are needed. But the school produces teachers for a nationwide
market, not specifically for Michigan, he countered.
Center for Education Statistics reported there were 1,708,057
elementary school teachers in 2010, the most recent year for which
statistics are available, a decrease from 1,774,295 in 2009.
"For those coming out of college, getting a full- time position immediately is not going to happen," Guy said.
combination of state budget cuts, hiring freezes and teachers delaying
retirement has shrunk the pool of open elementary teacher positions, Guy
said. New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie slashed $828 million in
2010 for K-12 school funding in an effort to balance the state's
deficit. In Cherry Hill, 70 non-tenured positions were cut; Guy says the
district still hasn't recovered.
The future elementary teacher
job outlook may not be as bleak. A 2012 Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)
estimates a 17% increase in teacher employment from 2010 to 2020,
citing higher enrollment and decline in student-teacher ratios. The
growth is expected to be concentrated largely in the South and West, the
Though the oversupply of elementary education
teachers persists, shortages remain in math, science and special
education. Content certification in these low-staffed areas requires
additional credits and hours, a discouragement for some to pursue the
endorsement, said Doug Peden, the executive director of the Ohio based
American Association for Employment in Education.
The Clark County
School district in Clark County, Nev., presently holds 36 math
vacancies, 22 science vacancies and 92 special education vacancies out
of a force of 17,000 teachers, the district's press secretary, Melinda
The Richland School District Two in Columbia, S.C.,
has similar perennial shortages for math, science and special education
teachers. "We have been able to fill our vacancies... However, each year
we must work diligently to find suitable applicants," said Karen Lovett,
the school district's executive director of human resources.
communication between universities and school districts would help
level supply and demand, said Richelle Patterson, a senior policy
analyst at the National Education Association, a labor union that works
to advance public education. "If the districts (students) want to work
in have no turnover, then school districts should translate that
information to (university) preparation programs," she said.