The state education department says the school year has started with teacher shortages in eleven fields. But some teacher training leaders say there’s another shortage—teaching jobs.
A dozen years ago the department listed the top shortage fields as agriculture, art, biology, business education and chemistry. This year’s list reflects changes in society and in education–teachers for the blind or partially-sighted, for the deaf and hearing impaired, teaching English to speakers of other languages, teachers of foreign languages, and industrial technology.
Officials with the Missouri Association of Colleges for Teacher Education have told state legislators people wanting to be teachers can’t be forced into those fields. On the other hand, says Doctor Shawn Young of Mineral Area Community College, a lot of people in the field can’t find a place in a classroom. He says, “when a teacher retires they don’t replace that teacher. They just add more studnets to her classroom.” He says the economic downtown that has left state funding for elementary and secondary education hundreds of millions of dollars short has forced school systems to reduce their numbers of classroom teachers. Young is the incoming president of the association.
A member of a joint education committee cites a state education department study that says there are four times as many teaching certificates issued than there are jobs. But other association officials say that number is deceiving because many teachers are certified in multiple subjects–which help them find jobs.