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Education leaders address plan for teacher shortage crisis

BALTIMORE — Like most school districts struggling with the nationwide teacher shortage, Baltimore City and Baltimore County have been faced with challenges when trying to hire people.

Johns Hopkins School of Education addressed the issue alongside many education leaders around the nation, including Dr. Sonja Santelises, leader of Baltimore City Schools.

They discussed what they’re doing amid the crisis.

With school starting on Monday for educators, many school systems are still scrambling to develop new plans for students.

It’s also left many people talking about why these shortages exist in the first place.

“Over the past decade, enrollment in teacher education programs nationally has decreased by 35%, with some states seeing decreases of more than 70%,” said Christopher Morphew, Dean for Johns Hopkins School of Education.

RELATED: Baltimore City Schools working hard to overcome teacher shortage before Fall

Baltimore City Schools working hard to overcome teacher shortage before Fall

According to Morphew, the Dean for Johns Hopkins School of Education, not only are people opting out of becoming teachers but school systems are having issues retaining them.

“Many experienced teachers are leaving the profession,” Morphew said.

RELATED: Maryland public schools trying to fill vacancies as school year approaches

Dr. Sonja Santelisis weighed in on important factors causing the educator shortage here in Baltimore City.

“Some of the same stressors that have been part of teachers work for a while, it is just that virtual learning pandemic, more racial unrest, the things like working conditions matter, right, who you work for matters,” Dr. Sonja Santelisis said “So even in Baltimore City right now, with challenging teacher shortage is here, a lot of it has been exacerbated.”

Santelises said normally they have been filling between 500 and 600 new positions each year, but due to teacher shortages and more positions being added in city schools, that number has almost doubled.

She also said things like work load and work life balance have all been additional factors in retaining educators.

“We had to make a quick pivot and include some wellness days, we made sure that we have built in this year more days for teachers to work on paperwork,” Santelises said.

Another challenge within school systems is making sure educators are diverse and reflective of the school systems they serve, and that all educators are qualified to teach.

“We are in a country that has hundreds of 1000s of under qualified teachers in front of students, and that number continues to rise that’s deeply worrying. Secondly, we are in a country where we are deeply short of minority teachers,” said Dr. David Steiner, a professor for Johns Hopkins University for Education Policy.

Steiner said on top of that they need to have competing wages to encourage and support our educators.

“It is unfortunate that we ask anyone to spend 10s of 1000s of dollars a year to become a teacher, and then pay them $40,000 when they arrive, sitting on mountains of debt,” Steiner said.

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