Hamilton County short nearly 40 teachers ahead of School beginning this week.
School is back in session this week, but how prepared is Hamilton County despite a nationwide teacher shortage? Well, Penny Murray the Hamilton County Department of Education’s Chief Talent Officer, said Hamilton County is doing better than most of the state.
In Tennessee we currently have around 1,000 teacher openings to fill before classes resume, according to the Professional Educators of Tennessee. Hamilton County has 37 positions to fill before August 10th. Murray said HCDE has hired teachers from 30 states. She also said in 2021-2022, Hamilton County was able to retain almost 90% of their new teachers.
J.C. Bowman is the Executive Director of Professional Educators of Tennessee. He said it comes down to less and less people entering the field.
“So in Tennessee, you know, we have 7000 teachers who could retire right now, in addition to that, you have an additional 3500 that are eligible to retire by the year 2024. So you’re looking at 10,000, people could walk away from teaching at any point in the game,” said Bowman. “We’re just not producing enough graduates from our colleges of education. That’s not a fault of theirs, we’ve raised the entry level to get into the College of Education. People are just saying, you know what, it’s not worth the effort, and they’re walking away. So, subsequently, this has been increasing over the number of years, and we’ve seen less and less people go into teaching. We’ve run a lot of people out of teaching, whether it’s the workload on teachers, or if it’s the lack of respect that teachers get, or if it’s just simply low pay.”
Chad Dirkse is the President of Chattanooga Christian School, he said he can is this hasn’t affected his school yet, but it’s just a matter of time.
“I think we’re gonna have to look at compensation structures and take a hard look at what is an appropriate wage for teachers understanding the vital role they play in our society. I think we’re going to have to look at creative or alternative credentialing pathways to take potential candidates that are maybe at a different stage in their life that they can’t go to stop everything and go back to school and get an education degree,” said Dirkse. “We’re seeing this kind of tsunami that is hitting public education, that tsunami is in our rear-view mirror and in plain view. There’s no question that we would see a dramatic reduction in the volume of quality candidates that we have applying for those open positions.”
According to the Hamilton County Education Department teacher resignation trends have held steady in the low 300’s since 2018. In the 2021 – 2022 school year that number jumped to over 500 resignations and retirements.
Hamilton County Schools do offer a three-year induction program for new teachers and teachers new to Hamilton County.
HCDE said they have plans to ensure students are attended to, including reworking and merging classes and schedules.