Teachers are in short supply in certain local school systems, despite the fact that many believe the need for them is at an all-time high.
In the previous two years, the use of virtual learning has resulted in some pupils falling behind, according to state statistics. All kids may not have regained their footing this year. Students and instructors were also affected by numerous ailments, including COVID-19, this school year.
Administrators in several local districts indicate that the number of applicants seeking to replace retiring teachers has also decreased.
“You’ve got fewer people coming into the profession,” said Scott DiMauro, the president of the Ohio Education Association, Ohio’s largest teacher union. “And then you’ve got people who are already teaching feeling kind of besieged and thinking about other options, and that creates a real, real problem for our schools, for our students and for our state.”
At 2009, the number of bachelor’s degrees conferred in Ohio public colleges went up to 9.6%, but by 2018, that number had dropped to 6.3%, according to data from the Ohio Department of Higher Education. From 38,493 to 49,963 bachelor’s degrees were given over that time period. Instead of increasing year after year, the number of people earning college degrees has decreased steadily, reaching a low of 3,180 in 2018 before rising again in 2019.
National Center for Education Statistics data from 2011 and 2012 shows that less than 15% of teachers in Ohio were under 30 and almost 19% of teachers in Ohio were over 55. This survey was conducted in the 2011-2012 academic year.
An education student at Wright State University, Brandon Young says he switched from an engineering major to education during his time in college. In social studies and science, he’s focused on grades four through nine.
“The fact that you have the opportunity to be that change, you can make a positive example, you can change your students’ lives for the better is something that just resonates with me a lot and it’s something that has been keeping me motivated to pursue this career,” Young said.
Some schools were online for lengthy periods of time throughout the epidemic, causing many kids to fall behind academically, especially those with the most challenging learning needs. From 2019 to 2021, the total performance index on state examinations fell from 84 to 72.
Despite their best efforts, teachers are having difficulty catching up with the needs of their pupils.
Math teacher Brian Cayot, who also serves as the president of Centerville’s teachers union, claimed he would take some students out of his classrooms for quarantine or sickness, then bring them back only to have other students leave.
On a daily basis, many professors use a single hour of class time to prepare lectures, mark papers, or do other administrative duties. Teachers at the high school, according to Cayot, often substituted for their colleagues who were absent due to illness during their plan time. More work outside of school was a must, and it was tiring.
As Cayot put it, it was “a constant cycle of lesson preparation, lesson re-planning, one-on-one support, and catching pupils up.” However, it isn’t over yet. The epidemic, he says, will take at least five years to reach children.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Cayot said. “It’s not going to happen in one year.”
Centerville City Schools’ director of human resources, Dan Tarpey, said that this year’s retirements are on pace with those before the epidemic. He said that no instructors had opted to depart before the end of their contract year in the previous three years.
According to Tarpey, most of the employees departing this year are doing so because they are retiring, but he noted that a handful have cited pandemic-related stress as a factor.
He did say, though, that fewer people are applying for new posts in the area.
Centerville’s high-performing pupils, great resources, and comparable compensation and benefits for its teachers make the absence of applicants there remarkable.
Smaller teacher applicant pools aren’t the only problem. Additionally, high school math and science teachers, as well as special ed instructors, are in high demand.
As a former high school teacher and principal in Dayton Public Schools, West Carrollton human resources director Devon Berry believes that instructors often discourage their students from becoming teachers by complaining about the poor salary and hard hours. Despite the fact that teaching isn’t a very profitable profession, many area educators, according to him, earn a middle-class living.
“I think sometimes we are the worst advertisers for our own profession,” Berry said.
The lowest starting compensation for a full-time teacher in Dayton-area public schools is around $35,000 per year. In certain areas, teachers may earn up to $70,000 per year, while in others, they can earn up to $100,000 per year.
Teachers in Ohio who have worked for 35 years or more will be able to retire with a pension equal to 77% of the average of their five greatest years’ salaries starting next year.
In the 2020-2021 school year, 94% of Ohio’s teachers were white, according to the state’s Department of Education.
There is a significant need for instructors who look like the pupils in systems like Dayton Public Schools, where the majority of students are not white. It’s good for white kids as well, since they get to learn from and interact with individuals from all backgrounds every day.
According to ODE, although white students accounted for about 70% of Ohio’s school-aged population in the 2020-2021 school year, the number of Hispanic, multiracial, and Asian students attending Ohio’s schools is quickly expanding. According to ODE, the number of Hispanic and Asian students has increased by 116% and 51%, respectively, during the 2009-2010 school year.
There is a demand for teachers of color, but they face extra hurdles in the classroom since their families are on average less well-off than those of white families, making it difficult for them to pay for school.
There is also a push to increase the number of instructors with disabilities and teachers who identify as LGBTQ+.
Teachers at the University of Dayton, Rochonda Nenonene and Novea McIntosh, say a big part of their job is helping students comprehend individuals from all walks of life.
There is a class at McIntosh geared to educating students from a variety of backgrounds. It is in this subject that students from the University of Delaware learn how to cooperate with kids from immigrant families, as well as how to cherish each and every one of their classmates.
According to McIntosh’s own experience as an immigrant, “I’m quite enthusiastic about it because I know what it’s like to be an immigrant in a dominating place.”
In Centerville and West Carrollton schools, instructors from Wright State and the University of Dayton engage with students to help them through the college application process and help them succeed. About two years have passed since the initiative was launched.
Candidate recruitment, on the other hand, does not begin after they complete their undergraduate studies. Elementary and middle school students are the first to be affected.
Working together, the schools of Dayton, Trotwood, and Mad River Local are planning to send potential teachers from their sophomore years to a local institution that is taking part in the initiative. The pupils would then return to the school to teach again.
DPS Superintendent Elizabeth Lolli said the initiative would begin in the autumn.
Starting teachers should be paid more and student debt should be reduced to encourage more teachers in the future, according to DiMauro. He said that the state of Ohio has to do more to support its schools and education.
“We also can’t continue to exploit people who have chosen to commit their lives to serving students in a way that is harmful to their interests, because in the end, that’s not good for kids,” DiMauro said.
A few days from now, Trent Fuller will graduate from Wright State University with a master’s degree in teaching. As a future educator, Fuller wants to specialize on teaching math and science to students in the middle school grades.
When Fuller was in college, he decided to pursue a career in engineering, but soon realized that he wasn’t satisfied. After helping younger siblings with their schoolwork for years, he found that he was adept at tutoring his fellow classmates and changed his major.
He said that he expects next year’s teaching to be a challenge. But it will be worthwhile.
“I chose middle schoolers because I felt like there’s not always a lot of positive male role models in middle schoolers’ lives and that’s really a turning point for a lot of these kids and the path they’re gonna go down,” Fuller said.