From kitchens to classrooms, our schools are operating shorthanded. The shortage of employees has been around for a number of years and continues to get worse. Last year, it was estimated that over 1,500 positions were filled by someone other than a fully certified/trained employee and that number is certain to grow this year.
The problem isn’t unique to West Virginia, school systems across the nation are experiencing the same thing. While we can easily identify the problem, the solution requires long-term strategies.
The key components to the teacher shortage are recruitment and retention. “How can we recruit people into the profession and how do we get them to stay and make it their career? In the climate we live in today, those things have become much more difficult,” says WVEA Executive Director Kym Randolph.
“It seems as though there has been an orchestrated campaign to undermine public education. The campaigns components include diminishing the respect for educators, denying them autonomy to make teaching decisions, devaluing the importance of quality public education, and denying the resources needed for our educators and students in our public schools,” continued Randolph.
“Finding solutions to our vacancy problem without lowering standards is vital. We must have quality/qualified individuals working in all positions throughout our school systems,” states Randolph. In West Virginia, there are many options for entry into the profession. If you know an individual that might make a good addition to your school system, refer them to the website operated by the WV Department of Education designed to help individuals get certified for positions in our schools – TeachWV.
Once individuals take positions in our school system, the goal is to have them remain in the profession throughout their career. That will require that employees have a seat at the table to advocate for their students’ futures, get the respect they’re due, and earn the pay and benefits that enable them to sustain long-lasting careers.
“We aren’t going to be able to fix our recruitment and retention problem overnight. We know the issues, and in many respects, we know the solutions. It isn’t an easy fix. Many of those individuals that have orchestrated the campaign to undermine public education must now be part of the effort to fix it. We must all work together in a concerted effort to implement the solutions,” states Randolph.