Tackling teacher shortage should include holding district, school leaders accountable

On June 20, the Sarasota school district posted an astounding 171 instructional vacancies on its website.

This is just one indication of the many problems we have here in Sarasota when it comes to teacher recruitment and retention.

Ironically, one reason we have a shortage of teachers is that women have so many more job options today than they used to.

Back in the ’50s and ’60s, women were mostly told they would be teachers or nurses. They were not encouraged to enter the fields of law or medicine. But today, a  lot of veterinarians and dentists are women. Because so many of our best and brightest women are going into fields of study that were not opened up to them before, we have a very reduced pool of bright women going into education.

So, what is the answer?

I wish we had the magic bullet. Better pay and benefits are part of the answer. So are better leaders; I have seen great teachers leave a school because they work for a principal that acts more like a bully than an educational leader.

In the past, districts have been slow to respond to complaints about principals. But now, our dwindling numbers of teachers should force school districts to take a new look at this problem.

The teacher shortage effects  regular  public schools, public charter schools and private schools.

It’s time to take key actions. If we do not, we may find ourselves with classrooms of students that have no teacher.

by Patricia Gardner, president of the Sarasota Classified/Teachers Association

For more: “There Are No Quick Fixes for Teacher Shortage, Report Warns”

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