A national teacher shortage affects Sacramento high school

A national teacher shortage affects Sacramento high school

The national  teacher shortage continues to be a huge issue across the country – and Cordova High School is no exception.

According to USA TODAY, 9 in 10 American high schools have expressed concern about being understaffed, with the shortages being most common in poor districts, in special education, the sciences and foreign languages. 

According to the National Center for Education, two-thirds of public schools report their biggest challenge is finding qualified candidates to teach.

Cordova High is beginning to experience some of the effects of the teacher shortage.

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Amy Strawn Cordova High School interim principal, said the lack of teachers is becoming a considerable worry, and that at the state level officials are taking steps to expand the ways people can become qualified to teach in classrooms.

“Right now I think a lot of credential programs are seeing that we are not seeing as many teachers apply for jobs,” Strawn said. “That’s more at a state credential level, where they are starting to say ‘interns can be eligible.’ (Candidates can now) be eligible in a variety of ways.”

Dean Ortiz, an honors and International Baccalaureate history teacher, said assistant teachers are especially important in English Language Development classes, where non-English speakers struggle to understand the material.

“Non-English speakers will not advance in their learning as fast as native speakers,” Ortiz said. “It will slow class time by trying to help translate the material which usually doesn’t translate correctly in some languages. It puts more pressure on teachers who are overtaxed, as it is with large class sizes and so many different levels of learning.”

English teacher Natalie Affleck said teaching is a more challenging job in today’s social and cultural environment, which explains why fewer people are now interested in education careers

“Teaching is a very difficult job and it’s really fraught with a lot of different opinions and a lot of different ideologies that sometimes come into play, that make it intimidating, I think, for a lot of people,” Affleck said. “And the workload is really high for something that’s not always compensated equally to some other professions.”

According to the Washington Post, many states have loosened job criteria over the years to draw more people into the teaching profession. Although Cordova hasn’t experienced this phenomenon, many poor districts have – which brings its own set of problems. 

“I think that the consequences of that are going to be having teachers who are less familiar with their own subject that they are teaching or who are teaching a subject in which they are not an expert in,” Affleck said. “I think that can create a spiral where if the teacher is not as familiar and can’t teach the content as effectively as if they were an expert, then the students are less likely to benefit from that and that creates a downward spiral in terms of teaching quality and student disengagement.”

Because of the reduction in the number of teacher candidates coming through the pipeline, administrators like Strawn say their jobs have become more challenging. 

“We find ourselves doing things we never thought we would do,” Strawn said. “It’s no longer enough to just post a job, we go and recruit. In addition to that, we do a lot of things to retain teachers. So once we do hire them, we are putting forward a lot more support than we had before to make sure that they make it and stay.”

But regardless of the obstacles and daily problems, Affleck and many others are happy to be teachers and work at CHS.

“It’s very rewarding,” Affleck said.

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