School Year Begins While Districts Face Serious Teacher Shortage

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Across North Carolina, school districts are opening their doors and welcoming students back to school. Yet many of those districts are still looking to fill dozens, if not hundreds of teacher positions. It turns out that when you're ranked 42nd in teacher pay and the worst state to be a teacher in the country, it's difficult to retain quality teachers.

From the WUNC article,

Hundreds of thousands of North Carolina public school students return to the classroom Monday. But many districts are still scrambling to find teachers for them.

The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district is among many districts seeing an increase in the number of open teaching positions. District spokeswoman Alex Hoskins says many of its 68 vacancies will be filled by substitute teachers.

Newly hired teachers and staff listen during an orientation meeting for Wake County Public Schools.
"Some of the substitutes who will be in the classroom are fully licensed, and some will not be. And we hope to have fully licensed teachers in most of those positions as soon as possible," Hoskins said.

The district is also reaching out to recently retired teachers and teacher assistants to fill in where they haven't yet found qualified applicants. Hoskins says some teacher assistants have agreed to teach classes permanently. The state calls this kind of job transition "lateral entry."

"A lateral-entry teacher has education in the content area, but hasn't necessarily had very much education in terms of pedagogy or classroom strategies," Hoskins explained. But, Hoskins added, lateral-entry teachers commit to taking the coursework necessary for full licensure within three years.

While Hoskins says the district's efforts to fill vacancies are working, she worries about what the shortage means for the state of education in North Carolina. Of particular concern to Hoskins is the fact that most of the vacancies are for elementary school positions, which are usually the easiest to fill.

"I think that the elementary numbers are an indication of unrest in education in general," Hoskins said. "I think that folks are tentative to go into education, with the reputation of low pay and high expectations."

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