America is in a teacher recruitment crisis, and every community is feeling the pinch. The size of our school system demands 350,000 new hires each year for K-12 teaching positions. Districts are scrambling to find skilled teachers for high-needs areas like Career Technical Education (CTE); science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), English as a second language (ESL), and special education.
While demand is exploding, our supply is drying up. An alarming recent ACT report showed the future teacher pipeline narrowing even further, with only five percent of high school seniors taking the ACT indicating a desire to pursue a career as an educator. Each year that number is decreasing.
Our existing teacher pipeline isn’t getting the job done.
The good news is that CTE is perfectly positioned to play a crucial role in the solution to this pressing issue. Creating and spreading high-impact Education and Training programs focused on cultivating skilled K-12 educators is a must.
To meet labor market needs and develop the teaching workforce our country deserves, teacher recruitment must become more proactive and start earlier.
Young people can get excited about the potential impact and leadership of a career in education, but essentially only when they engage with substantive, authentic opportunities to test-drive teaching.
Most teachers are homegrown; in fact, over 60 percent of teachers teach within 20 miles of where they went to high school. The next generation of each community’s teachers – whom everyone is counting on to be highly skilled and well prepared on day one – are already in our classrooms right now, but as students.
Encouraging CTE models are out there; it’s time to double down and take them to scale.
- The Teacher Academy of Maryland program, developed in partnership with Towson University and the Maryland State Department of Education offers CTE students ParaPro, the certification exam for school-based paraprofessionals. This – along with dual credit partnerships – elegantly addresses the question of how to embed a professional certification into a high school-level CTE program that aims students towards a career that requires a bachelor’s degree.
- The Mississippi Department of Education recently revamped its Teacher Academy curriculum to align with the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards’ vision of accomplished teaching. This raises the bar for the prestige and impact of programs, and opens the doors for current National Board Certified Teachers from many content areas to become outstanding CTE instructors in new Teacher Academy programs.
- The Arizona Department of Education commissioned an Educator Retention and Recruitment Report with a top recommendation: “Develop high school programs such as [Educators Rising] to encourage students to evaluate the field of education as they review their options for post-secondary studies.”
A newly revitalized career technical student organization (CTSO) partner is ready to support the effort. Earlier this month, the Future Educators Association evolved to become Educators Rising, a transformed, 21st-century national network of aspiring educators.
Educators Rising, a member of the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations, offers all of the classic CTSO opportunities (competitions, conferences, scholarships, leadership opportunities) with no dues; students and teacher leaders join for free directly through the new EdRising Virtual Campus, an online platform packed with resources and opportunities integral to the instructional program of quality Education and Training pathways.
Here’s a 3-minute video tour of what the EdRising Virtual Campus offers:
Transforming teacher recruitment is a massive issue. CTE, with leadership from states, can provide the boost that communities need.
Dan Brown is Co-Director of Educators Rising and a National Board Certified Teacher. He recently completed a term as board chair of the National Coordinating Council of Career and Technical Student Organizations. He tweets @danbrownteacher.