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The Bottom Line A Fix to Teacher Shortages: The K-12 Adjunct Teacher

Originally published at The Stream

There’s been talk for years of a teacher shortage. This problem could become acute in the aftermath of the pandemic. Can school budgets absorb declining enrollment even while payroll costs creep up? What will happen to technical subjects and special education with fewer certified teachers?

Nationwide Teacher Shortage

If the teacher shortage really happens, students who need to catch up after long school closures could get even less attention than they did before. Classes might be larger and school weeks shorter. And they may have to endure prolonged remote and hybrid, rather than in-person, learning. Teachers already feel stretched. These measures would make things worse.

Declining Public School Enrollment

School enrollment has been declining for years. This is mainly the result of a 20% drop in birthrates since the 2008 financial crisis. Then 2020 added insult to injury, with students dropping out of school at unprecedented levels. More families are seeking alternatives to public schools, such as homeschooling, private school, microschools, learning pods, and private tutors.

The declining enrollment worries school district leaders who are trying to balance their budgets. Government ties its funding to enrollment numbers, while personnel costs rise annually due to seniority-based salary schedules and union demands.

Technical Subject and Special Education Staffing Needs

School districts tend to face teacher shortages in upper level math and science. High industry demand for graduates with these majors leaves schools with few applicants to choose from. Special education jobs are likewise harder to fill. As the shortage deepens, schools may have to reduce some technical subjects and cut corners with special education.

Continue Reading at The Stream
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