Shortage of teachers in the US

Shortage of teachers in the US, a terrifying possibility now may be a reality in the near future. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to affect the United States economy one of the most honored professions is at risk. That is, the role of teacher or educator in the US school systems. The privilege and responsibility of teaching young minds in the US have been under stated even abused in recent years. Now many school districts already beset by challenges face a critical shortage of teachers as the pandemic continues.


The looming shortage of teachers in the US will have far and long-lasting consequences. However, to understand the reason for the potential shortage of teachers you need to know how school districts are staffed. Specifically, how many teaching positions are filled by substitute teachers on a full-time basis. It is true that many school districts in the US suffer from a critical shortage of fully certified educators. This does not apply to every single school district across the country even. That being said, many of the school districts have to get creative to fill teaching vacancies.

Shortage of teachers in the US

Specifically, some districts you substitute teachers to fulfill full time teaching duties. Additionally, school districts have brought in educators from other countries on working visas or bring back recently retired teachers. Some school districts are so short of teachers that they use educators with temporary licenses. Which means, that the individual who holds the temporary educator license usually has not attended teacher prep program in college. It is important to point out, that not all school districts face such shortage of teachers on a yearly basis.

Normal Shortages

The reason US school districts face a shortage of teachers in a normal year has several answers. First is the amount a teacher is paid in their salary. It is a sad but undeniable fact that many educators in the US are motivated not by profit. However, this is not true of even a large majority of teachers in the United States. Indeed, many are still motivated primarily by the privilege and responsibility of teaching students. Even teachers who are motivated by the amount of money they are paid view it as secondary. In these cases, the educator is trying to provide enough income to support a family, pay off student loans, or both. As a result, teachers will seek out jobs that will pay the best while meeting other criteria on individual basis.

Another primary reason for a normal shortage of teachers in a school district is due to a lack of training. Specifically, education levels specific to each state that have to be met in order to receive a teaching license. Many states in the US have additional requirements teachers have to meet in order to receive their license. In addition to completing a teachers training/preparatory program in college many states also require the passing of specific tests. Some states take it even further by requiring that a potential teacher scored a certain percentage on their SATs.

While there is an argument for these extra criteria and that a potential teacher demonstrates their abilities. However, any educator who has finished college level training program should’ve already done so. Other factors exist for why many school districts face teacher shortages on a yearly basis. However, the coronavirus pandemic has become another one and is leading to a potential disaster for education.


2020 will potentially see one of the worst shortage of teachers in US history due to the coronavirus pandemic. The effects the coronavirus is having on the education system in the United States can be broken into parts. First, the fear of contracting the coronavirus if/when schools reopen for in person classes. to be fair this is a real concern as many students in several school districts have been affected by the virus. Specifically, they were affected after their school districts reopened for in person classes. While not all school districts have open for in person classes, they intend to do so when it is safe.

However, that does not mean when the virus has an effective treatment. Which means, teachers will be required to go to work while the pandemic is still ongoing. While safety measures have proved to be effective many educators feel they aren’t sufficient.  As a result, many especially those who in the highest risk factors are opting to quit or retire. Additionally, many substitute teachers who have long been the go-to choose for filling long-term teaching shortages are doing the same. In their case, it is a choice between risking their lives for very low pay. Also, bringing in foreign teachers on work visas is no longer a viable option in most cases. Specifically, the visa registration program has new restrictions in place that make it more challenging recruit foreign teachers.

Other Reason

The other effect of the coronavirus on the potential shortage of teachers is economics. Specifically, the coronavirus has triggered recession approaching levels that have not been seen in the US since the Great Depression. Another sad fact of education in the United States is that even in mild recessions states cannot maintain the systems. Specifically, state governments begin slashing education funds which forces school districts to reduce their staff including teachers. An example of this is the last recession to affect the US from 2008 to 2010. In this period of time estimated 120,000 teachers were laid off. The coronavirus pandemics on the several orders of magnitude greater in the previous recession and may have a similar effect.


The shortage of teachers in the US will be disastrous with long-term consequences. Not only for the teachers who will find themselves out of work as a result. The greatest tragedy of the teacher shortage will be the effect it has on the students. Even in a good year in the US education system many bright and talented students slip through the cracks. With even fewer teachers available there is a distinct possibility that some children won’t even have a school. After all, a school without teachers is just an empty building, gathering dust.


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