Across the state of West Virginia, hundreds of teaching positions remain empty with just weeks till the start of the school year.
Dale Lee, president of the West Virginia Education Association, said the situation is only going to grow worse this next school year.
In 2021, there will be 1,196 open teaching positions, according to the state’s education department. Lee has said that openings may be found in every academic field and at any level.
Overwork, fear for their own safety, and inadequate pay are issues that are often cited by educators.
According to Lee, this isn’t simply a problem in one state. There are reports of teacher shortages all around the United States. Lee has said that West Virginia must pay competitive rates to attract and retain qualified educators.
It’s not a shortage of teachers that’s causing problems. According to Lee, there is a dearth of qualified instructors who are also subject matter experts in particular areas. He said that teachers had to do the duties of social workers and nurses in addition to their regular classroom duties, making for a demanding profession that pays little.
According to Lee, a significant number of beginning teachers wind up quitting their jobs before reaching their full potential.
According to Kanawha County Schools representative, the number of teaching positions open in the district has increased to 192 from 164 at the same time last year.
This coming Tuesday, the Kanawha County Board of Education will have a special session to vote on staffing matters.
The Wood County Board of Education recently settled on a $3,000 signing bonus for special education employees. This is the first time the county has issued a financial incentive of this kind.
Several programs, such as the Underwood-Smith Teacher Scholars Program Fund, have been established by the state’s Department of Education to help find qualified candidates to fill teaching vacancies. Students pursuing teaching degrees in mathematics, science, or education who are willing to relocate to West Virginia may participate in a program that will reimburse their tuition costs if they do so.