Why is there a teacher shortage? Schools struggled nationwide in 2022

USA News

  • New data shows teacher shortages remain just as widespread as they were in the summer, though the average number of vacancies has slightly declined.
  • The scale of the problem varies significantly by region, district, school, subject and grade level. Many areas have all the teachers they need.
  • The pay and pressures of the job are major – though hardly the only – reasons some schools are struggling to fill certain teaching positions.

Several years ago, Naomi Norman, superintendent of Washtenaw Intermediate School District in Michigan, had a conversation that changed her perspective on the needs of the teaching profession. It was with a special education teaching assistant adored by the school community and a natural at working with children with complex learning needs. 

Special education teachers were, and remain, hard to come by. The field needed people precisely like this paraprofessional to fill those roles, Norman thought, so why hadn’t he considered pursuing a degree to become a professional teacher? 

The aide explained he was the breadwinner for a family of five children and already working a second job to make do. He couldn’t afford to quit his day job, give up health insurance and go back to school, much less pay the tuition. Michigan is on the lower end when it comes to paraprofessional pay, with an average salary of less than $27,000, according to ZipRecruiter data.

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