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Front Page » Education » Florida teacher shortage labeled “critical”

Florida teacher shortage labeled “critical”

Written by on April 12, 2016
Florida teacher shortage labeled “critical”

The ranks of new teachers in Florida continue to grow, but state education authorities say there continues to be a teacher shortage, and the word “critical” remains a qualifier.

State law requires the State Board of Education to annually identify critical teacher shortage areas based on the recommendations of the Commissioner of Education. This list of shortage areas is used to identify high-need content areas.

According to the latest report from the state education department, critical teacher shortage areas for the 2015-16 school year include English, exceptional student education, reading, foreign language, English for speakers of other languages (ESOL), science and mathematics.

These shortage areas represent certification types where substantial proportions of teachers are being hired to teach courses without the appropriate certification, where significant vacancies exist, or where post-secondary institutions don’t produce enough graduates to meet the needs, state officials said. This information can be used to determine the current and projected needs of classroom teachers for specific subject areas.

Locally, there continues to be a special need for exceptional student education teachers for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

Currently, the Miami-Dade County district employs 19,653 instructional personnel, according to Ana M. Rasco, assistant superintendent for the Office of Human Capital Management.

A year-to-year comparison is conducted when the school year closes. In October 2014, instructional personnel numbered 20,619.

“As the fourth largest school district in the country, Miami-Dade County Public Schools has fluid instructional openings and recruits year round. Currently, as in other school districts across the nation, an area of need is in exceptional student education,” said Ms. Rasco.

In Florida, children with disabilities who need specially designed instruction and related services are called exceptional students. The special help they are given at school is called exceptional student education (ESE). The purpose of ESE is to help each child with a disability progress in school and prepare for life after school.

ESE services include specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of the child. The services may also include technology devices, therapy, special transportation or other supports.

A team of people makes decisions about the child’s needs and ESE services, and the child’s parents are part of this team. This process is based on the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

“Highly Qualified Exceptional Student Education (ESE) Teachers Wanted,” reads a heading on the Miami-Dade district’s website listing teacher job openings.

The Instructional Recruitment and Staffing Office is maintaining a database of highly qualified Exceptional Student Education Teachers (K-12).

This database will be used to keep eligible applicants up to date on current and anticipated vacancies district-wide.

“If you are a highly qualified ESE teacher seeking employment, we want to hear from you,” says the posting.

There are immediate openings for part-time audiologists to provide services to students in school settings as part of the Division of Exceptional Student Education.

The Miami-Dade district is also is in the midst of a targeted recruitment campaign aimed at attracting individuals with a strong STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) background for a highly selective summer program, the TEACh Strong Summer Academy. This summer immersion program will prepare participants to become STEM teachers.

According to federal regulations, a teacher shortage area means an area of specific grade, subject matter or discipline classification, or a geographic area in which the US Secretary of Education determines that there is an inadequate supply of elementary or secondary school teachers.

Districts prefer to hire appropriately certified teachers when possible. “However, specialized subject area knowledge is critical for some content areas that results in a greater risk that children will not be taught the standards at the level or rigor required if the teacher they have is not certified,” according to the state.

Most of the recommended critical teacher shortage areas for 2015-16 are among those with the highest projected vacancies and the highest number of current vacancies for 2014-15.

Low performing and low-economic urban schools have a higher proportion of courses taught by teachers without the appropriate certification. Schools receiving a grade of “F” experience the largest proportion of out-of-field teachers.

Miami-Dade County Public Schools had more than 30 “Low Performing” schools in the latest state report. There are 466 schools in the county’s system.

In general, a larger percentage of teachers are teaching out-of-field in the high priority school locations compared to the statewide total of teachers teaching out-of-field.

For example, 4.3% of teachers are teaching out-of-field across the state, 7.6% in F Schools and 5.6% in Urban/Low-Economic Schools. Rural/Low-Economic Schools (5.5%) and D Schools (7.3%) also have a higher percentage of teachers teaching out-of-field compared to the statewide total (4.3%).

Low-economic schools are those that have 75% or more students who receive free or reduced lunch.

State statistics show that among the 194,733 teachers in 3,211 schools statewide, 186,395, or 95.7%, are teaching “in-field,” and 8,338, or 4.3%, are teaching “out-of field.”

One year ago, there were 194,030 teachers statewide and 183,445, or 94.5%, were teaching “in-field.”

24 Responses to Florida teacher shortage labeled “critical”

  1. Abby Fry

    April 13, 2016 at 4:46 pm

    Morale is gone, pay keeps dropping, and administrative support is nil. We spend more time testing than teaching. Why is this a surprise?

  2. Chose to teach

    April 13, 2016 at 5:14 pm

    Teaching isn’t an easy profession. People think anyone could teach,how hard can it be, yet the people who choose to teach are getting out. Then the people hired out of field, don’t stay long… More expectations, less pay and respect. Instead of measuring a child’s growth grin the beginning of the year to the end of the year, students are being compared from low economic areas too high economic areas, there is no comparison… Therefore schools are labeled and teachers are stressed because w can’t show the same gains… It is impossible. Growth possible,.learning possible, but not at the same rate. We are to differentiate are instruction to meet the needs of the students, but then give them the same test and expect results. Measure individual growth of the child, not punish the teacher and schools for not reaching the same measurable goal. We praise individuality, yet test the same… Anyone else see a problem. Teach the child..not the test

  3. Chose to teach

    April 13, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    Sorry for the spelling errors…auto correct…

  4. E. Hernandez

    April 13, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    “If you are a highly qualified ESE teacher seeking employment in Miami Dade”, please know that with 14 years of experience, you will be earning about $42,000, which is only $2,000 more than a BEGINNING teacher with NO EXPERIENCE gets.
    If you like being exploited, come on down and teach in Miami-Dade!!!

  5. Aileen Desmond

    April 13, 2016 at 8:29 pm

    Rick Scott and the Florida Legislator made sure that Florida teachers have NO job security, low pay, and a reduced pension. There is an increase in Charter Schools because the wealthy make money from Charters. They are creating 2 classes in Florida rich and poor. The poor can’t afford private schools, public schools will be filled with people waiting for their real job, so they won’t be educated. The poor won’t be able to complete for a place in college therefore destined to work for minimum wage.

  6. E. Hernandez

    April 13, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    “If you are a highly qualified ESE teacher seeking employment” with 14 years of experience, come earn $42,000, which is only $2,000 more than a BEGINNING teacher with NO EXPERIENCE!!!
    If you like being exploited, come down and teach in Miami-Dade!!!

  7. Ted Bazer

    April 13, 2016 at 9:04 pm

    5 years ago our “esteemed” governor changed the DROP rules from 5 years with 6% return on retirement benefits to 1 1/2% with employee contributing 3% to the fund. My wife and thousands of other public employees in the Florida retirement system went into the program before the change. Broward schools just realized that there will be a shortage next year. They even offered teachers an extension to DROP. Because of all the BS in teaching these days I doubt that many will take them up on the offer.

  8. Leslie Rosenthal

    April 13, 2016 at 9:24 pm

    I am not speaking for Dade County here but in another county. As a current ESE teacher who is leaving the profession, I can tell you that besides the low pay and stress involved, school administration and county support staff basically leave teachers to struggle in unending uphill battles to do their job properly. The para-professionals are paid MISERABLY and the teacher to student ratios are unsafe and ridiculous. Teachers should not be treated like they are joining a religious order of suffering brothers and sisters who sacrifice their minds and bodies for the sake of educating the special needs students. It’s more than a “calling” – teaching should be a well respected professional like medicine and law.

  9. AnnaQSmith

    April 13, 2016 at 9:28 pm

    This is a crock of bull not just in Miami but throughout the state. I have heard this same song and dance for the past 15-20 yrs yet when qualified teachers look for a job, barely anyone gets hired due to budget cuts. This is a one sided story that gets played over and over. If there was really a shortage, don’t you think the county would provide incentives for teachers in the system to add an ESE endorsement . No, they’ve done the opposite! case in point:

    My friend who is an ESE iteacher in Miami for over 20 yrs was forced to take 4 hr workshops for 3-4 mths after school from 4-8 pm with NO PAY !! And the reason for the workshops? She had to get an additional certification in elementary ed. k-6. She was told to do it or her job would be in jeopardy. Just like that!

    What sense does this make? so they can easily use her in mainstream & closedown the ESE dept? Who knows the real reason? Nobody in the school board gives you a straight answer.

    Additionally all districts in Florida pay teachers much lower than their northern counterpart. Sad to see what the teaching profession has become. Low pay, low respect, creativity and physical Ed have gone down the crapper, behavior problems are the norm not the exception anymore. Such a shame because teachers are the backbone for all future learning. What is going to become of the next generation if a major overhaul isn’t done soon?

  10. J.Davis

    April 13, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    No one goes into teaching for the money. You have to love children and have the desire to prepare them for life after school. Not everyone will be a doctor, lawyer, or a scientist. Students need to be taught to read, write, and do basic math, then how to make a living! High school should be geared for college for those that elect to go. Train the other eighty percent how to go into construction, welding, key medical claims,ect. Most of all we need to quit making excuses for behavior that disrupts the classroom and disrespects the teacher. We can’t teach the ones that want to learn for the ones we are babysitting. The shortage will continue to grow until teachers are given the respect and compatible pay they deserve, for without teachers we wouldn’t have doctors, lawyers, and those sitting in the position of making the rules and laws on education.

    • D. Dehn

      April 14, 2016 at 7:26 pm

      I agree lets bring back trades. Teacher students how to work in offices, work on cars, and construction. I do not get paid as much as a babysitter. If I earned 5 dollars and hour per student for watching and teaching my students I would earn for 20 students, times 7 hours, times 5 dollars an hour 700 a day. We need to start doing more with the disrespectful and disruptive students. This behavior start in Elementary and continues through high school. I love to teach when I am allowed to.

    • Sherry

      April 15, 2016 at 3:36 pm

      It is my opinion that we need to stop saying that we don’t go into teaching for the money. Most people who have a college degree choose a profession for the love of what they will do. Doctors want to heal people, and we want to educate them. We are important, and we should go into our profession expecting to be paid what we deserve. Otherwise it sounds like we are expecting low pay. Does that make any sense?

  11. a teacher...

    April 14, 2016 at 4:17 am

    When the state bases your pay off student scores, why would you work there?

  12. Kindergarten Teacher

    April 14, 2016 at 5:37 am

    The amount of testing is crazy! In Duval teachers are told they have to read the script. That’s not teaching! That’s not differentiating the instruction to meet the needs of the students. Kindergarten used to be special because it was their first intro to school. Now they act like 5 years olds should be taught and tested like they are 3rd or 4th graders!

  13. JoAnn Benton

    April 14, 2016 at 7:57 am

    Why would anyone choose to go into or stay in a field where your hands are tied to what is in the best interest of the students, where you are criticized for using your experience to make decisions and forced to apply the latest idea thought up by non educators? There has to be a way to balance the goal of insuring teachers are effective without robbing them of their individual style. And expecting teachers to handle all of the duties of essentially 3 jobs for the salary and respect of half of one job is ridiculous.

  14. Dean Paterakis

    April 14, 2016 at 8:47 am

    It is a shame that the politicians are doing the bidding of special interests and have created a learning environment that is toxic to both the teacher and student.

  15. William Kincaid

    April 14, 2016 at 9:10 am

    I registered as a volunteer for my local FL school district. I know math, science, & computers. All they ever ask for are Florida State Assessment proctors.

  16. DC Copeland

    April 14, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    Stop complaining and go on strike! Yeah, I know after the first and last Florida teachers strike in 1968, after Tallahassee made it illegal for teachers to strike, that it’s time to break the rules. There is no way they will find enough scabs to save the day. Stop taking it up the wazoo and start standing up for yourselves. Grow some backbone and pressure your union to strike not only for better wages, but new rules in the classroom that restores your position of authority, that backs you up with suspension of unruly students. Otherwise, you will NEVER be happy.

  17. Christopher Molnar

    April 14, 2016 at 2:15 pm

    Teacher shortage critical? I have a Doctorate in Education, with over 12 years in the classroom teaching young adults, but yet I can’t find one person in the Department of Education to help me navigate my way through, what I consider, archaic Florida Licensing laws that appear to be designed to make sure anyone not trained in the Florida university system cannot teach in Florida. If I want to work as a sub for 80.00 per day I can apply through Kelly Educational Services but then I have to sign a piece of paper that says I will not apply to the district directly for a job.

    • LovDegas

      April 14, 2016 at 9:44 pm

      I too felt discriminated against in the certification process because my degrees are not from Florida universities. I think the state will eventually have to re-visit their certification requirements due to the teacher shortage.

  18. Jim Layhe

    April 14, 2016 at 5:49 pm

    I have an ESE who lives in Chicago. My other ESE is off the corner of 59th and 2nd.

  19. D. Dehn

    April 14, 2016 at 7:35 pm

    I have heard it said that if you have better classroom management the students would not be rude and disruptive. I say if when I say “you are going to the office” and all they do is laugh we have a problem. We need in school suspension even in elementary. When I talk to parents they say they act like this at home too.

    So, what is the solution. This behavior is not tolerated in private schools or other countries. We have to stop saying everyone can have a free public education. We are just certified babysitters, who if lucky get to teach sometime during the day.

  20. Kimberly

    April 17, 2016 at 2:11 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with many posters lamenting about the horrible state of Florida!s education system. Many teachers are faced with stressful and demoralizing work environments and feel trapped in a career that is stifling and not “respected” by other professionals/professions. Florida’s own lawmakers are busy implementing discriminatory laws ( Brightest and Best Teacher Program) to ensure that only a few “elite” reap monetary rewards that previously were afforded to ” all” who were willing to go the extra mile and equip themselves with knowledge and skills to better instruct their students. As a parent, I am even more disappointed as the notion of engaging and high quality instruction has all but disappeared. Yes-a “shortage of Teachers” is only half true because in my opinion, the concept of “teaching” in Florida is non existent.

  21. elisanana

    April 24, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I guess this is because teachers’ salaries are still low and the education of qualified teacher test worth doing. Most developed countries should have a good teacher certification so that his children could be more qualified. This was also experienced by fluoride, and I hope to soon be overcome.