Teacher Shortage Hits Tennessee Cities

Chalkbeat reports on the state’s big cities missing a significant number of teachers at the start of the school year:

About 100 Shelby County Schools classrooms still lack full-time teachers, Superintendent Dorsey Hopson said Monday, the first day of school, after a tour at Bruce Elementary.

And the problem wasn’t limited to Shelby County:

And it’s not the only district with vacancies left open. Metro Nashville, a slightly smaller district, lists nearly 80 open teaching jobs, and the third-largest district in the state, Knox County, needs more than forty. Across the board, districts are most hurting for special education teachers, though there are vacancies in nearly every subject.

The shortage noted in the big districts tracks information reported at TNEdReport back in 2014:

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.

While there are many reasons for the shortfall, it’s worth noting that the first days of school set the tone for the entire year. So much so that incoming MNPS Director of Schools Shawn Joseph has said it’s critical that every classroom have a full-time teacher on day one.

UPDATE: MNPS reports that the actual number of unfilled vacancies on Day 1 was 34.5, a better number than they’ve had in recent years.

For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport




4 thoughts on “Teacher Shortage Hits Tennessee Cities

  1. Classrooms need more than a full time teacher. They need professional teachers who are trained and certified in the content area they teach. They need teachers with experience who can show new teachers the way. A system that has an overload of inexperienced hires is going to have great difficulty in teaching students with academic deficits.

  2. A national teacher shortage has been part of the Race To The Top since the beginning. The government causes the crisis then swoops in with the solution. Teach For America ring any bells. We have Charters and vouchers to destroy public, private and home school and eliminate elected representation and TFA obedient drones (they are not teachers) to replace the teaching profession. Then we are left with the federal government and the corporate fascists controlling education and our kids hearts, minds and souls.

  3. I am wondering if anyone knows of a time period when there was not a teacher shortage? Perhaps look at what they were doing at that time in terms of Ed policy. I think if high stakes testing weren’t tied so heavily to teacher evaluations, we wouldn’t have such a teacher shortage. Also if teachers had a few more planning days each year….and got paid just a little more. Then, we might not have a teacher shortage.

  4. How many of those Teachers in classrooms are “Interim” Teachers.. these are one’s on annual contract and exempt from many protections full time Teachers possess?

    Then we have the issues of licensing in a State where Subs in positions up to 20 days or less need nothing more than a College degree. No teaching experience, no license in process, nothing.

    Then we have fully qualified Teachers who have relocated or Individuals with multiple degrees given ‘apprentice’ licenses with three years to seek full time work, take additional courses and classes in order to move their license out of that classification. Being a Sub apparently does not count even if that same sub works 150 days a year while a F/T Teacher may average well under that number out of 175 days.. so is that no full time when they are credentialed, licensed and experienced?

    So is this about ensuring quality Teaching or about money, paying qualified individuals less, pushing them into spending more dollars to get more credits to do a job they are more than willing and able to do and have done or could do quite well if they were supported and in turn mentored for those who are career changing or new to the area and the district. I find it fascinating that MPS does not offer any support in that area at all. I presume that is the same elsewhere

    There is little done here to cull and develop a strong educational community which is ironic given the strong and overpowering presence of Vanderbilt and other Universities. As well as the supposed support of the varying Politicians and other elected officials of the area. How many people are actually talking to Teachers here – especially those interested in becoming one. I guess zero to none.

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