There’s a teacher shortage in America. States like California, Texas, and Florida are decimated by a shortage of teachers across the board.Top States Impacted By Teacher Shortage

However, the problem isn’t just in a few states. According to the U.S. Department of Education, more than 75% of states report having shortages of Math, Science, and Special Ed teachers.

Teacher Shortage Areas

The effect of the teacher crisis is impacting the classroom and education in the United States as a whole. You can check out the full infographic below the expert responses or click here for full size.

This is a big issue that we can’t solve alone. To shed some light on how we can address this problem, we asked 13 experts passionate about education the following question:

What is the single most important thing America can do to fix the teacher shortage?

Their responses are below (and in no particular order):

Matthew Lynch

Matthew LynchThe single most important thing that we can do to end the teacher shortage in America is reaffirm teaching as “a noble profession.” When I was growing up in the 80’s and even 90’s being a teacher was a respectable position.

Now, the general public has reduced teaching to a second-hand profession, causing many of our best and brightest to find a more worthy venue for their intellectual talents.

Dr. Lynch is the editor of The Edvocate and The Tech Edvocate.

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We can fix the #teachershortage by reaffirming teaching as a noble profession @Lynch39083' Click To Tweet

Jaime Casap

Jaimie CasapThe best thing we can do for teachers (besides paying them more) is to give them some room to iterate and experiment.  There isn’t an industry where the workforce is more passionate than teachers.

They care about their kids.  They want the best for them.  They show up on the weekends to learn how to be better teachers.  They spend their own money to benefit their students.  They deserve our respect.  They are also the experts when it comes to education and we should give them the opportunity to utilize that expertise.

Their hands are usually tied and we need to untie them!  We need to give teachers the autonomy they need to bring education to the next level!  We need to give them the opportunity to learn – to build the knowledge, skills, and abilities to help our kids thrive!

Jamie Casap is the Chief Education Evangelist at Google.

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The best thing we can do for teachers (besides paying them more) is to give them some room to iterate and experiment.Click To Tweet

 Dave Saba

daveThe teacher shortage in America is a strain on our future generations. But we can do something about it, as citizens, as educators, as life changers. Alternative Certification Programs exist to help those who want to shift the drought of education graduates, and lead the way to getting more people who are passionate about education, in the classroom, teaching.

Dave Saba is the Chief Development Officer at Teachers of Tomorrow.

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@AltCertProgram exists to help get more people who are passionate about education in the classroom, teaching.Click To Tweet

Joy Pullmann

Joy PullmanEliminate teacher licensing mandates. Research shows that teacher certification does not improve teacher quality, and many teachers themselves view their licensing requirements as what they are: a cash cow for ineffective education departments of local universities.

Individual school districts and principals should be free to hire teachers based on qualifications that have proven their worth, and teachers to pursue such qualifications using the same criteria rather than all being forced into
the same bureaucrat-managed, low-quality system.

Joy Pullmann is the Managing Editor of The Federalist.

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Eliminate teacher licensing mandates will help the #teachershortageClick To Tweet

Chad Aldeman

Chad AldemanWe need policies that are specific to particular shortage areas. General, across-the-board solutions only make sense in a world where we are suffering from a generic teacher shortage. We aren’t.

Long-term solutions to the problem of staffing hard-to-staff schools and subjects requires policy solutions like hiring or retention bonuses or other staffing models that make those difficult jobs more attractive to current and future teachers.

Chad is the Principal at Bellwether Education.

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Long-term solutions to the teacher shortage requires policy solutions via @ChadAldemanClick To Tweet

Dan Goldhaber

dan-goldhaberMy quick answer is to “stop treating the problem in a generic way and recognize that it is concentrated in particular subjects (e.g. STEM and special education) and more acute for particular schools and school systems. Recognizing the nature of the issue will help move policy toward the right solutions.”

Dan Goldhaber is the Director of the Center for Education Data & Research.

Treat teacher shortages in STEM and Special Education first Click To Tweet

Frederick M. Hess

Frederick m HessWell, I’m not actually convinced there *is* a teacher shortage. However, I think the most promising thing we can do to help many more teachers be much more impactful is to rethink how the job is done, so that teachers spend less time on low-value things they do poorly (making copies, passing paper, watching students use tablets) and more on high-value instruction (mentoring, coaching, small group facilitation).” I discuss all this in The Cage-Busting Teacher, and it’s an occasional topic on my “Rick Hess Straight Up” blog at Education Week.

Rick is the Director of Education Policy Studies at AEI.

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Let's rethink how the job is done, so teachers spend less time on low-value things & more on high-value instruction Click To Tweet

James M. Lang

james m langAlthough not all of our social problems can be solved with money, this one can. We will attract more candidates to the teaching profession when we pay them salaries that commensurate with the value of the incredibly important work they are doing.

Unless you teach or live with a teacher, it’s difficult to understand the intense intellectual and emotional work that goes into teaching, and that is not well-reflected in their current levels of compensation. If we want more teachers, we need to make teaching a well-paid and highly respected position in our society.

James is the author of Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons from the Science of Learning.

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We need to make teaching a well-paid and highly respected position in our society. via @LangOnCourseClick To Tweet

Nicholas Tampio

Nicholas TampioNothing demoralizes a teacher like following a scripted lesson plan such as an EngageNY module. Trust teachers to make lesson plans or watch them use their talents in other professions.

Nicholas is the Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.

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Trust teachers to make lesson plans or watch them use their talents in other professions. @NTampioClick To Tweet

Richard D. Kahlenberg

richard kahlenbergThe most important thing we could do to address the teacher shortage is to create the conditions under which more teachers stay in the profession.

Polling suggests teachers care more about working conditions – such as having supportive principals and a safe and stimulating environment — than salary. High poverty segregated schools are much less likely to provide those conditions and teachers leave those schools at substantially higher rates. In high poverty schools, teacher turnover is 69% higher than in low poverty schools.

For that reason, reducing economic school segregation – as 100 districts and charters do – may be the single most important step to reducing turnover and addressing the teacher shortage.

Richard is the Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation.

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Let's create conditions under which more teachers stay in the profession. @RickKahlenbergClick To Tweet

Robert Pondiscio

robert pondiscioThe single thing most important thing we can do is take curriculum far more seriously and in doing so, rethink the job of teaching. Right now, we ask teachers to be both expert instructional deliverers and instructional designers. Either one is challenging, but taken together it’s overwhelming.

If we were diligent about providing teachers with first-rate instructional materials, the soul of the job would be teaching, examining student work, developing relationships with kids and parents — not spending hours creating lessons from scratch or worse, fishing through Google and Pinterest for lesson ideas.

This would, I’m convinced, make teachers’ jobs more doable, more satisfying and more successful. That means fewer throw up their hands in despair and fewer jobs to fill when teachers quit because we’ve made their jobs impossible to do well.

Robert is the Senior Fellow at Fordham Institute.

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Let's take curriculum more seriously & rethink the job of teaching. @rpondiscio #teachershortageClick To Tweet

Roger Schank

roger schankTeachers enter the profession because they want to help kids. In today’s world this is getting harder to do. Schooling is dominated by testing and teachers get rated by how much they raise test scores. This makes them cogs in a machine. Why anyone would want to be part of the misery of the testing machine is beyond me. Common Core, PISA, SATs, all combine to make teaching an awful choice.

Roger is a former Professor at Stanford, Yale, and Northwestern. Now full-time education revolutionary.

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Teachers enter the profession because they want to help kids. Let's make it easier @rogerschank Click To Tweet

Neil Rigler

NeilWhen too many people from outside the school system try to dictate goals and standards the job becomes unbearable; when I am trusted as a professional and encouraged to push myself, I rise to the challenge and benefit from the endlessly rewarding experience of helping students grow.

I could add I’m fortunate to work at a school with this kind of flexibility and trust. Deerfield High School consistently ranks among the top schools in the state, and I believe it is largely because of the culture of the school and its excellent teachers.

Neil is a teacher at Deerfield High School. 

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Adam Kirk Edgerton

AdamThe research tells us that working conditions, including a reasonable workload and a good principal, are more important than merit pay and some other incentives that have been tried.  Pay helps to a point, but working for long hours without any collaboration or assistance is the unfortunate norm for many American teachers.

Adam is a contributor to Huffington Post and a Ph.D. student in Education Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education.

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Improving job conditions will help fix the #teachershortage - via @AdamKirkEdgeClick To Tweet

Marc Prensky

Marc PrenskyRight now we choose and certify our teachers based mainly on their
knowledge of the individual subjects (or in the case of elementary school teachers, all the subjects) of “the MESS”—which is my term for Math English, Science and Social Studies — and give them some old-fashioned training about “pedagogy.” What’s NOT (or hardly ever) included in teacher certification is the most important quality of all for teachers, i.e. empathy with kids. That is, actually liking, relating well to and wanting to help young people. As a result, we too often hire people as teachers who don’t even like kids.

ALTHOUGH MOST OF OUR TEACHERS DO LOVE THEIR KIDS, EVERY PERSON WHO HAS BEEN THROUGH EDUCATION HAS SEEN TEACHERS WHOSE LOVE IS NOT THE KIDS, BUT RATHER THEIR “SUBJECT.” Those teachers wind up mostly as “bodies in the classroom” — the kids either actively hate them or just don’t care. We certainly don’t want or need more of such teachers.

So suppose, instead, we figure out a way to assess and measure empathy with kids (It’s really not so hard to do, just watch and ask around) and we recruit and hire future teachers principally on that basis. And we train them to help kids use the resources already on line (such as Khan Academy and the millions of other existing and continually improving resources) to learn whatever of the MESS they need. Would we get more (and better) teachers by doing this? I believe so.

Here’s another approach, one that has the added benefit of moving our education beyond the “academic” and MESS-based system of today to the education of the future —what I call an “Education to Better Their World.”. I see the role and meaning meaning of “teaching” changing (at different speeds in different places, but inexorably) from “content delivery” (because, again, the online stuff can do it if and when this when kids need it), to being an “empowerer” and “coach” for teams of kids who are pursuing and applying their own passions through real-world-improving projects and acquiring the needed skills of effective thinking, effective action, effective relationships and effective real-world accomplishment.

This new coaching and empowering role will no doubt appeal to many adults who have absolutely no interest in the “content delivery” teaching of today, but would be great coaches and empowerers for kids. We have no idea how many of these people there are — many may be retiring from business or other careers. We should find and recruit these people, young and old.. I believe they would become a big untapped source of effective teachers (effective, that is, in the new sense of coaching and empowering kids, which is what the future demands).

Marc is the founder of the Global Future Education Foundation and Institute and author of Education to Better Their World: Unleashing the Power of 21st Century.

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Here’s some statistics on Education in America

how the teacher shortage impacts classrooms in usa

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Thanks To All The Contributors

Wow! We are so grateful for all the expert contributions to this article. What do you think we can do to get more teachers in schools?