The Rise in Teacher Shortages


Chemistry Teacher Karyn Strauss leaves North Port High School for a teaching job at Sarasota High School this month. Many teachers are leaving the profession, but Sarasota is lucky that Strauss has opted to continue teaching.

Isabelle Lungay


Around March of 2020, other than the Spring season, quarantining started to bloom in every state and country. A plethora of stores, restaurants, and businesses closed and were affected with these unfortunate new circumstances. However, one of the biggest establishments heavily affected are school districts. As school doors closed, the state of Florida has been struggling to cope with the significant decrease in teachers, as percentages downed in numbers causing severe shortages. With the case of teacher shortages, this can make a big difference as schools will suffer from unemployment, as well as not feeding students with the education they deserve. As of January of 2021, Sarasota County Schools has seen an increasing number of substitute teachers in their system. Nevertheless, administrators are still finding it difficult to even find substitute teachers willing to teach and are available because most are afraid of getting affected by the Coronavirus. Even regular teachers are taking a leave from their classrooms and sitting the year out. Until things have died down and become better, most regular and substitute teachers will not return on campuses which may present bigger issues in the future.  

It is also without a doubt, that the pandemic has been the main problem for causing the skyrocketing percentages of teacher shortages. Worldwide, from the start of the year, hundreds of thousands of people have been getting quarantined, sick, or in worse causes, hospitalized to a serious level. Concerning COVID statistics can easily influence a teacher to take a leave of absence, or even retire early. For instance, an article by Katie LaGrone mentions as schools enter the halfway point of the year, teachers are leaving the classes early. Unfortunately, way too many teachers may have left, and with administrators also finding it hard to recruit substitute teachers, this deals a heavier toll on school districts. Even so, more and more students are struggling with the whole situation alongside teachers and are academically behind their peers. Recently, Sarasota County Districts are struggling to find teachers specifically for summer school in an article from May of 2021 by Ryan McKinnon. Without the proper number of teachers to handle a new increased crowd of students in need for more educational help, they may have to cancel the program. Worst of all, students will not be able to get the extra help they need to progress into the next schoolyear. 

With all the evidence and information served on a not-so silver plate, this issue NEEDS to be addressed and dealt with as soon as possible. What I want people to realize and understand is that this issue will not just go away without anyone talking about it. Citizens can do their own research, and best of all, be involved with the topic! If more and more people stand up and raise their voices to this problem, there may be a possibility of influencing people with jobs intimate with the pandemic issues. Speaking of which, people who work to research with COVID should be involved as well. I’m talking doctors, directors of school boards, and potentially higher-ups in the Florida Government. They are the best people to call upon the issue of teacher shortages and provide every district with the money and resources teachers need to continue working in their field. If people in the higher professions talk about this issue more to the public and media, even more citizens will be able to open their eyes and do something about it! This can reach parents, students, and anyone who values proper education.  

Furthermore, I have more key ideas that may help decrease teacher shortages. In the first key, opening volunteering opportunities may help teachers get back on the job. It would not have to be a permeant job, of course, but they would be volunteering a few hours of their time in school environments. Additionally, this may interest up-and-coming teachers or citizens who want to become one. They will be able to use this opportunity to learn and practice their teaching skills, while also helping solve the problem with the shortages. Another key idea is that citizens can put up posters around their community inspiring others to help people spread the news of teacher shortages and maybe, alongside the volunteering opportunities, participate their time in schools. Moreover, this can be an eye opener for teachers who may have left or not gone through the 2020-2021 year and come back to their jobs. In the last key, I feel as though the government should give teachers much more money or a higher paycheck to teachers, as well as give them more resources to cope with the pandemic. It would not be fair for teacher’s to be paid so little to deal with growing children and teens, while also protecting their students from the virus as well as themselves. Not to mention, most teachers are probably leaving their classes to protect their own families. If necessary, all teachers can be vaccinated to at least have a sense of security and protection from COVID. 

All in all, as the pandemic seize to grow, the number of teacher shortages will also grow along the way. Without the public’s help, this problem will rise if not handled right away. Sarasota District is in serious need of teachers, whether regular or substitute teachers. Even better, people interested in teaching can apply to become one. In the future, hopefully the number will go down, so students will be able to learn properly with the right teachers with the right education.