Many schools in Colorado are now in desperate of new personnel, as a shortage of teachers has been reported. Although around 1,000 people graduated with credentials for elementary school teaching positions last year, many institutions complain that there are just not enough applicants out there.
Genoa-Hugo Elementary, one school located at an hour-drive from Denver, recently advertised a teaching position, only to turn out with no candidates whatsoever. According to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, the situation in rural areas of the state is much worse, with classes being regularly cancelled due to a severe shortage of personnel.
Even urban regions are struggling to fill their positions. Robert Mitchell, Academic Policy Officer with the Department of Higher Education, says that the state is simply not training enough teachers to meet demand anymore. According to a recent report, the number of those signing up for teacher prep schools is down by 23% compared to five years ago.
This led many schools and recruiters to reach out to out-of-state candidates, in a desperate attempt to fill the classrooms with personnel.
“The sheer number of teachers that we need aren’t available so we’ve started going out of state to recruit where there’s a surplus of teachers like Michigan and Utah, […] trying to convince them to come to Colorado,” said Amy Spruce, recruitment and retention administrator, working with the Adams 12 Five Star School district, northwest of Denver.
Some educational institutions have also reportedly brought back teachers out of retirement simply to fill the vacant positions. But as classes have been cancelled due to the shortage, schools are growing ever mode desperate for personnel.
Jack Kronser, interim human resources chief with the Adams 14 district, says that the need for teachers is so severe that most institutions have also lowered the standards and requirements needed to fill the position. He also argues that the Great Recession had an impact on many of those who previously had aspirations for teaching position. According to him, for financial safety, many turned to other professions and opportunities for employment.
Kronser also said that the trend continues nowadays and that many people feel discouraged from aspiring for careers in education.
“Our political landscape right now – it is extremely difficult to be a teacher right now in our state in mind,” he further said.
And if the shortage becomes even more severe, it will put several institutions at risk. There are fears that classrooms will soon be empty in schools overwhelmed by large numbers of students.
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