Still hiring: Teacher vacancies up as year begins, limiting recovery plans
Unprecedented shortages of bus drivers and substitutes. A coronavirus variant that has quarantined swaths of students and staff. Pressure to help students readjust and catch up.
As schools face this battery of challenges, they’re short another key resource: teachers.
In 18 of 20 large U.S. school districts that provided data to Chalkbeat, the number of teacher vacancies was up this year — often way up. In Los Angeles, the district started the year short 500 teachers, a figure that stood around 100 for the last two years. In Memphis-area schools, more than 200 teaching positions were unfilled as the year began, a five-year high.
The share of empty teaching positions is often only 2 or 3%. But the numbers mean thousands of students started the school year without full-time teachers or extra help schools had hoped to provide — a worrying sign for schools trying to help students recover from the pandemic.
Shortages are “limiting the ways in which districts are seeking to invest in recovery and redesign,” said Jonathan Travers, who works with school officials through the consulting firm Education Resource Strategies. “It is just taking a number of things off the table.”
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