DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Iowa
education officials are expecting to face a teacher shortage, and
leaders are preparing to address the issue.
The state's universities are graduating
400 fewer teachers, counselors and administrators annually than in
2013, the Des Moines Register reported. The Iowa Department of
Education said about 2,100 graduates are earning education degrees a
Education leaders are hosting
round-table discussions and increasing recruiting efforts, especially
for jobs in special-education and English language learning.
The looming problem is also compounded
by the number of teachers nearing retirement.
"My concern is if we go three to
four years, and it sneaks up on us, we won't have quality teachers to
put into classrooms," School Administrators of Iowa executive
director Roark Horn said.
Some education officials are increasing
incentives to lure applicants, such as Des Moines Public Schools'
$3,000 signing bonus to special education teachers. The district's
chief of human resources, Anne Sullivan, said another incentive for
teachers beginning their careers is a free master's program.
Education leaders have explained a
variety of reasons for the lack of new teachers.
President of Iowa's teachers union,
Tammy Wawro, said that political backlash is to blame for the
weakened respectability of a teaching career, resulting in college
students being driven away.
"If my elected leaders, from the
top down, really aren't saying they support or respect education or
public schools, it would really make me question whether that's the
route I would want to go," Wawro said.
Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan
said in 2009 college education programs cost too much and don't
prepare future teachers enough.
While the state has since imposed
stricter regulations on college education programs, it can make it
more difficult to find teachers. According to state education
department consultant Laurence Bice, Iowa educators must earn a
required exam score in the top 25 percent nationally in order to