The AJC picked up on DeKalb School District’s board member’s article earlier this week.
Not sure if DeKalb’s teacher vacancy failures are related to millions spent on no bid contracts to a recruiting firm
Metro Schools Have Teacher Vacancies
By: Rose French at the AJC
Thousands of metro Atlanta students are starting the school year with substitutes instead of permanent teachers as education leaders struggle to fill vacancies brought on by a shortage of teachers.
It was a different picture a few years ago during the recession when districts were making significant cuts in teaching positions amid budget constraints. Now many school systems are scrambling to fill teaching vacancies because fewer people are going into the profession, due in part to weak salaries and increased stress associated with the job amid more rigorous achievement standards.
Fulton County, for example, had about 40-50 vacancies at the start of school five years ago. Last year at this time the district had 65 teaching vacancies; as of the start of school this week it had 105, and the shrinking teacher supply increases competition to fill those slots.
It’s a scenario thousands of school districts are grappling with across the country, and the result can be hugely disruptive to classroom learning, with students in some instances getting substitutes who are not certified or don’t have adequate experience in subjects or grades they’re teaching. The largest number of vacancies are in math, science, special education and foreign languages.
“If we are placing people in classrooms, who are either not knowledgeable in their subject area and/or not prepared pedagogically to listen to and interact with kids, we’re going to do harm,” said Barbara Stengel, associate chairwoman for teacher education at Vanderbilt University.
“Everybody in their right mind knows what happens when you bring in substitute teachers. There’s chaos and it’s not just for the kids in that classroom for that period. It’s chaos that ripples through a team. It disrupts the day for everybody.”
Metro school district officials say the vast majority of their teaching and support personnel positions are filled by the start of school, but do acknowledge having the substitutes is not ideal. The five largest metro districts say they’re working to fill all the vacancies but don’t know exactly when that might happen.
“Right now we’re 98 percent staffed,” said Tekshia Ward-Smith, chief human resources officer for DeKalb schools. “While not ideal, it is certainly the best option to ensure our children receive the instruction they deserve.”
Start-of-school teaching vacancies
Cobb nearly 40
Atlanta Public Schools 9
Fewer aspiring to teach
In Georgia, during the 2007-08 school year, 12,436 students received teaching certificates for the first time, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. Two years later, the total fell to 8,520 and it has remained about the same each year since. During the 2008-09 school year, more than 7,200 people completed Georgia teacher-preparation programs, according to a federal report; three years later, 6,405. Nationally, there’s been a similar decline, federal data shows.
Georgia teacher pay
The average teacher salary in Georgia for 2013-14 was $52,924, compared to the national average, $56,610, according to the National Education Association. Georgia ranked 24th among states in its average teacher salary.