What Is Causing The Teacher Shortage In KCK And The Nation?
Kansas City CALL Newspaper Inc
The current staffing crisis is compounded by a massive decline in undergraduate degrees in teacher education programs, low pay, expanded opportunities for women and lack of teaching degrees in STEM fields. According to a new report, Kansas is missing about 1,400 teachers for the school year. Why are we seeing this shortage? Jennifer Farr, a teacher in Junction City, says the job is not as appealing as it once was. A lack of employees means more work with the same pay. Ms. Farr says, “we don’t compensate teachers enough. I think the work is hard. There are a lot of expectations and responsibilities that come with educating students. Responsibility is hard on people. Tires them, and they seek employment elsewhere because they’ve given all they can.” The State of Kansas has taken several steps to help mitigate the shortages this fall. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the state board of education voted this week to make it easier for retired teachers to return to the classroom if they choose. The Board of Education also voted to maintain lower qualifications for substitute teachers in Kansas this summer. It allows anyone with a diploma to obtain a temporary substitute teaching license this fall as long as they pass a background check. The first day of school in Kansas City, Kansas Schools is still a few weeks away. But Fulks is still busy recruiting teachers. She says the district is looking to hire 50 more people to become teachers, substitute teachers, teaching aides and paraprofessionals. KCK is not alone in finding jobs in the school district. This is a nationwide problem. “We have fewer students who go into teaching. So when you think about how many students are graduating and getting into those areas, that’s a factor,” Fulks said. The other important factor is stress. From teaching during a pandemic to the violence that has ravaged schools across the country, this has sidelined many teachers and made recruiting new teachers a challenge. “Maybe this was a second career change that they would like to have, but they’re just not really sure what to expect on day one after they arrive,” Fulks said. For this reason, the KCK makes available as many resources as possible to support its teachers. “If we can get this right then at least that will help the individual to be here on day one and know that they’re not going to be left alone,” Fulks said. The starting salary for teaching KCK is nearly $45,000, and there is a pay increase of up to $5,000 for hard-to-fill positions such as math, science, special education, and Spanish. KCKPS says they plan to hold career fairs to hire new teachers every Thursday until they have enough teachers.