Classrooms still face teacher shortages as upcoming school year approaches, officials bolster recruitment efforts

MARYLAND – “We are definitely facing a educator shortage crisis,” Maryland State Education Association President Cheryl Bost said.

Over 5,000 Maryland educators left the field of education in 2022, according to the Maryland Board of Education.

We’re told this leaves uncertainty for classrooms statewide as the new school year vastly approaches. “It will create excessive workload, which is why many people were leaving the profession. They have to double up on classes and we may see vacancies in the bus driver ranks so parents may realize their kids aren’t getting picked up,” Bost said.

To combat this, the Maryland Department of Education passed a waiver allowing teachers with conditional certificates to work an extra two years. “So what that means is that if somebody has a different degree that’s not in teaching, this is a pathway to come into education and get the credits and support to become a teacher,” Bost said.  “We support them extending this time period but this is a short term fix.”

Those certificate requirements include completing a minimum of 12 hours of course work during the 2-year period and a passing score on the teacher certification exam if required.

Worcester County Public Schools Superintendent Lou Taylor says although they’re seeing a decline in the number of applicants currently, they aren’t seeing many vacancies.

He says this is due to their assertive recruitment efforts.  “We don’t wait until April or May which is truly the hiring season for educators. We’re out doing that as early as December and we start interviewing teachers as early as January and February,” Taylor said.

Those I spoke with say retention is also a big focus, which is often connected to pay. “We have to get so much education that when you compare us to other jobs that require the same amount of education we’re making $.80 on the dollar,” Bost said.

“This year our county commissioner in our board funded a step plus 4% COLA. It’s the highest COLA we’ve received in 15 years,” Taylor said.

Superintendent Taylor says they’ll receive 56 new teachers this upcoming year and their goal is to make sure none of them feel like just a number. “Our 14 schools here in Worcester County have great leaders who are always reaching out to making sure they build a climate of success in our schools for not only students but also for our teachers,” Taylor said.

The Maryland State Education Association also says their needs to be a push to attract talent at an earlier age, starting with high schoolers to get them interested in the field.

They say substitutes will also be a great help during this difficult time.

MSEA also says they’re pushing to raise the base pay for teachers to $60,000 by 2024.

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