The United States is facing its first major teacher shortage since the 1990s, one that could develop into a crisis for schools in many parts of the country, according to a new study by the Learning Policy Institute, an education think tank.
The shortfall is a result of increased demand for teachers as schools reinstate classes and programs axed during the Great Recession. It has been compounded by a dramatic decrease in the supply of new teachers entering the profession. Enrollment in teacher-preparation programs dropped from 691,000 in 2009 to 451,000 in 2014, a 35 percent decline, according to the study, “A Coming Crisis in Teaching? Teacher Supply, Demand and Shortages in the U.S.”
“Our analysis estimates that U.S. classrooms were short approximately 60,000 teachers last year,” Leib Sutcher, the study’s co-author, told reporters Tuesday ahead of the study’s release. “Unless we can shift these trends, annual teacher shortages could increase to over 100,000 teachers by 2018 and remain close to that level thereafter.”
The impact of the teacher shortage on students, according to the study’s authors, will be schools having to cancel courses, increase class sizes and teacher-pupil ratios, or hire underprepared teachers.