Nation wide teacher shortage impacts local schools

    Public schools nation wide are having difficulty finding teachers. (ABC 7 Amarillo - Lia Kamana)

    Public schools nation wide are having difficulty finding teachers.

    "I really like to see the glass as half full and believe that this year is going to be different, but I was so disappointed as we started to get resignations and I saw our percentage of teacher openings rise to about 25-percent," said Dr. Kerry Parker, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources for Clovis Schools.

    Clovis Municipal Schools began seeing the impact about four years ago.

    "In order to deal with the shortage we have to think outside of the box, we have to think creatively," said Parker. "This year we are taking the approach where those two third grade teachers are going to departmentalize. One teacher will teach everyone language arts, one teacher would teach everyone math, and the substitute would teach social studies or a non-tested area."

    There is no one reason for the shortage, but a decline in the number of undergraduate students seeking education as a major in the last decade hasn't helped.

    "We are now seeing really, kind of a crisis point in that decline," said Penny Garcia, Dean of Education and Technology at Eastern New Mexico University.

    Dr. Garcia believes there are many factors contributing to the decrease: compensation, negative press, and the large amounts of testing required.

    "In other countries, teachers are compensated at the same level as engineers. That is how important they are to the society as a whole," said Garcia.

    She feels that in order to stop the downward trend, a stable education system is a must.

    "I think we need to have our eyes set on an world class educational system, I think that is what will enable New Mexico to flourish and the nation to flourish," said Garcia. "The way to get new teachers into the profession is to redesign the profession, redesign what we consider quality public education to be."

    But while things need to change in the long term, schools across the country need teachers now.

    "If you are interested in working with students and helping them be all that they can be and opening up a whole new world to them, we need you," said Parker.

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