Teacher shortage nationwide

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COLUMBIA - Fewer people are entering the education field today, compared to seven years ago. 

According to the Learning Policy Institute’s new study, the number of people enrolling in teacher education programs across the US has decreased by 35 percent, from 2009 to 2014.

Teacher shortage is also driven by increasing student enrollment and district efforts to attain pre-recession teacher to student ratios.

In Missouri, the Title II Higher Education Act reports the number of students graduating with a teaching degree decreased from 4,795 in 2010-2011 to to 4,498 in 2013-2014.

The MU College of Education dean Kathyrn Chval said that the decline in teachers is nothing new. In an effort to grow these numbers, she said the first step is forming good relationships with schools and looking for future teachers at an early age.

“At Grow Your Own Programs the districts begin to identify people that show an interest and the potential in becoming future teachers, maybe as early as middle school,” Chval said.

She also said additional costs go into becoming a teacher that influence enrollment. Certification tests, which could cost $1,000 assuming they pass the first time, account for some of these costs.

“What we’ve found with students with financial challenges sometimes are not taking the tests because they don’t have the money to pay for the tests,” she said. “So when you think about the increases in tuition, the increases in room and board, and just the cost of getting through college, you now also have these testing barriers and that’s why the scholarships are so critical.”

Hannah Rockwell, an MU early childhood major, said people frequently bring up financial issues she may experience as a teacher.

“I always get told that I’m not going to make a lot of money and people say I’m going to have a lot of debt,” Rockwell said.

She said her interest in helping kids outweighs the potential negatives of being a teacher.

“If you’re passionate about something, I think it’s always worth it,” Rockwell said.

Chval said this passion will encourage future educators to pursue this career. She said quality teachers can make a major difference in a child’s education and their future.

“Teachers impact every profession and we have to think about how do we invest as a society and the teaching profession,” Chval said.