Discussions about the future of the teaching profession used to be about retention and retirement. Now, it appears the education community will have to add a new topic: enrollment. According to a recent survey form the Chronicle of Higher Education and an article in neaToday, the number of students intending to major in education has reached an all time low: 4.2%, compared to 11% in 2000. Writing on her blog, Lily Eskelsen García, President of the NEA, discusses the key reasons students, especially non-white ones, are not entering the teaching profession.
- Salary: U.S. teachers have well-known low wages.
- Cost of college: added to already low wages, the possibility of student loan debt causes many students to feel like they cannot afford to go into the profession.
- Respect: Many teachers view the tenets of the previous ESEA reiteration, NCLB, as showing a lack of respect for their role in the classroom. In addition, newcomers and veterans alike need to continually work on their skills, but professional development is also uneven after college. Much work is expected of teachers, but often they don’t receive the support and resources they need to enhance their professional acumen.
“The solutions to dealing with the teacher shortage and building a more diverse workforce are staring us in the face,” writes García. “It all starts with recognizing that educators are, first and foremost, professionals, and treating all of us that way.”
“Survey: Number of Future Teachers Reaches All-time Low,” by Mary Ellen Flannery neaToday (March 15, 2016)
“Backgrounds and Beliefs of College Freshmen,” The Chronicle of Higher Education (February 11, 2016)
“The Absence of Teachers of Color, isn’t Just a Problem for Non-White students; It’s a Problem for All Students,” Lily’s Blackboard (March 7, 2016)