You can probably remember that one teacher who was special – who noticed when you were struggling; who always made you smile; who recognized a unique talent; or who simply brought out the best in you. With kids spending 40 or more hours per week in school, the presence and power of those teachers is of paramount importance.
The Teaching Shortage
There’s a critical and growing problem, however: a teacher shortage that’s affecting every state of the nation. Even the best teachers are being spread so thin that more and more students are falling through the cracks. If that breaks your heart; if you want to equip the next generation with the skills, knowledge, and character to live successful lives and lead our country in the future, then you should consider a career in teaching. To help identify if teaching is right for you, let’s look at the current need for teachers, the impact the deficiency is having, and the pathways to becoming an educator.
Shockingly, over a 45-year period between 1970 to 2015, the number of bachelor’s degrees in education that were earned nationwide decreased from 176,307 to just 87,217 – less than half (National Center for Education Statistics). Also noteworthy is that before 2013, there was no identifiable teacher shortage; in the 2017-2018 school year, there were an estimated 110,000 unfilled teaching positions. Of the unfilled positions, five areas stood out for having the largest teacher deficit: math, special education, science, foreign language, and English as a second language.
In the fall of 2017, there were an estimated 50.7 million students enrolled in public schools but only ~3.2 million full-time teachers to teach them. Beyond the unfilled teaching positions, the gap increases further when the number of underqualified teachers is brought into play. In fact, the Learning Policy Institute estimates that hundreds of thousands of students across the U.S. were being taught by unqualified or under-qualified instructors in 2018, with record numbers of emergency teaching certificates being issued. You’re getting the picture. We need more qualified, fully certified teachers.
There are myriad reasons for the teacher decline in our country, but one rises to the top as a major contributor. Baby-boomer teachers, even those who stayed on through the recession and recent COVID pandemic, are entering retirement. In fact, it is estimated that between 90,000 to 100,000 teachers of this generation retired each year between 2010-2020. That makes for a lot of teacher openings.
The bottom line of the teacher shortage numbers is the impact it is having on our students. Not only is it increasing the student to teacher ratio due to larger class sizes, it is also altering students’ achievement levels, especially in classrooms where the teacher is underqualified or not fully certified, as noted by the National Education Policy Center.
The high teacher turnover and unfilled positions also impact a school’s financial status. The Learning Policy Institute estimated that in 2017, the cost of filling a teaching vacancy cost $21,000 on average, with a total annual cost of turnover of $7.3 billion. That cost has only risen. Needless to say, every time money must be used to fill an opening, that money is taken away the students’ needs.
The impact isn’t only on students and finances. Administrators must devote tremendous time, energy and resources into addressing understaffed districts, trying to mitigate decreasing job satisfaction, and preparing for the likelihood that many of their educators will leave the schools. Teachers have added pressure to fill the gap created by the shortages, leading to teacher burnout and even greater discontentment. It’s a vicious cycle.
Online Teaching Degrees
Online teaching degrees are a convenient way to pursue or transition into a career in education. If you have dreams about becoming a teacher, then you should consider Ottawa University. We make it easy for you to complete your degree in education with our accelerated, online format.
Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
Our Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education program is designed to produce teachers who are proficient in the latest instructional methods and have the sensitivity to be constructive in a learning environment. Students complete methods courses, professional education courses, and field experience. Elementary education majors must demonstrate ability in liberal arts areas, including mathematics, science, writing, communication, and the fine arts.
Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education (KS)
Ottawa University’s Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education program prepares teachers by helping them gain the knowledge, social competencies, and communication skills to be effective in an educational environment. They gain awareness of cultural diversity and the social and political contexts of education. Our students learn to design, implement, and evaluate materials and instructional techniques for early through late adolescent learners. The curriculum provides students with the opportunity to observe, develop, and practice skills under the guidance of a classroom teacher in the student’s major area of interest.
Master of Arts in Education – Elementary Education Unified (KS- leads to licensure)
Our Master of Arts in Elementary Education Unified program is for those who already have a bachelor’s degree in any field. Your path to becoming an educator is easily attainable through OU’s online unified program. This accelerated, online program leads to state licensure. The Elementary Education Unified degree provides students who are preparing for the education profession with a high-quality academic setting and field-based experience. Our future educators obtain a clear understanding of student needs, instructional approaches, content knowledge, continued professional growth, and a commitment to creating a learning environment for all K-6 students. The degree is designed to assist in meeting the criteria to become a K-6 classroom teacher or a K-6 special education teacher (low-incident needs).
Careers in Teaching
Ottawa University's online, accelerated degrees allow you to earn an education degree on your terms and remove any barriers that may stand between you and making a difference in the classroom. Ottawa University is an accredited leader in teacher preparation and has turned out numerous nationally recognized educators, including former Blue Valley, KS Superintendent Dr. Tom Trigg, who was named the 2011 Kansas Superintendent of the Year and one of four finalists for the National Superintendent of the Year. Tom is currently the superintendent at Highland Park ISD based in Dallas, Texas.
There’s no question that the U.S. is experiencing a teacher shortage crisis, which is exactly why you are needed more than ever. Teaching remains one of the most rewarding and respected professions in the world, in large part because of the potential to make a profound difference in the lives of students and prepare them for lives of significance.
Start Your Career in Teaching!
If you’ve always dreamed of starting a career in teaching, Ottawa University is the fastest and most affordable online university in the Kansas City, Milwaukee, and Phoenix areas. Let us help you get into the classroom – reach out to an enrollment advisor today!
Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education
Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education
Master of Arts in Elementary Education Unified
Interested in the latest online learning trends?
Visit OU's Online Blog Spot.