A recent article in the New York Times detailing a nationwide struggle to find and hire qualified teachers mentions Nashville as one of the large, urban districts “having trouble finding teachers.”
Data from the Appalachian Regional Comprehensive Center suggests the problem, in Tennessee at least, is not just limited to Nashville:
Since 2009, Tennessee has identified shortages in the overall numbers of K-12 teachers needed for public schools as well as teachers for specific subjects. There is a critical need in the state for STEM teachers, as well as shortages in high school English, social studies, world languages, Pre-K through high school special education, and English as a second language.
But, looking specifically at Nashville, a review of teacher salaries in similar urban districts reveals that Nashville teachers don’t fare so well compared to their counterparts.
Just a few hours away, in Louisville, KY, teachers make significantly more money than their Nashville peers. While MNPS offers competitive starting pay, there’s a gap that widens as teachers gain more experience.
While in Nashville, mayoral candidates lamented the growing difficulty teachers face affording housing, in Louisville, teachers make a solid middle class income from the start to the end of their career.
Money isn’t the only factor behind the teacher shortage, but it certainly plays a role. Tennessee should take steps to improve the overall compensation of its teachers and begin building the supports and providing the resources teachers need to succeed.
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