Local teachers address teacher shortages in North Dakota classrooms
BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The North Dakota Department of Public Instruction has declared that all subject areas will have critical teacher shortages going into the 2022-2023 school year.
That’s why the North Dakota State Association of Colleges for Teacher Education is hosting a summit, to brainstorm solutions to the growing problem.
“What we’re seeing is that there are extreme shortages, especially in some critical areas,” said Dr. Stacy Duffield, president of the North Dakota Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.
In North Dakota and all over the country, administrators are continuing to struggle to find qualified teachers to fill positions.
“I’ve been in education for 26 years, and this is the most openings I’ve ever seen,” said Carrie Weippert, assistant director of special education at Grand Forks Public Schools.
“We have numbers that there are schools operating without teachers in science, math especially, and then even some schools that didn’t have an English teacher last year,” said Dr. Duffield.
According to the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction, reasons for shortages include enrollment growth, teachers entering other professions instead of teaching in rural districts, and fewer young people entering the profession. More recently, stress from COVID-19 and school safety are to blame as well.
“The pressures on teachers today are tremendous,” said Meghan Salyers, associate professor and director of accreditation & student teaching at the University of Mary. “They’re asked to be doing more and more and more each day, and that it’s very quick and easy burnout is one of the main reasons.”
Some areas, like special education, are seeing even larger teacher shortages.
“We’ve seen an uptick in special education evaluations or overall behavioral health concerns have increased, which has caused us to need more staff to address some of those needs,” said Weippert.
Dr. Duffield says while enrollment into teaching programs in the state remains steady, fewer students are staying in that career for life.
“Like when I started out, you know, I thought I was going to be a teacher for the rest of my life,” said Dr. Duffield.
Schools in the state are looking at signing bonuses and tuition stipends to entice teachers to seek employment in North Dakota classrooms.
The North Dakota Legislature has started allowing schools to bring on teachers that may not have the full credentials that a teaching job ordinarily requires.
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