Education experts look for creative ways to retain teachers

The top reason educators nationwide are leaving the profession is pay.
School bus
Posted at 8:15 AM, May 20, 2024

Data shows about 86% of kindergarten through 12th grade public schools nationwide are struggling to hire teachers. Florida remains one of the top states with the worst teacher shortages.

Some studies find that Florida has the highest demand for teachers in the country.

“It’s a major issue in the state of Florida. It’s been something that’s been happening for a while,” said William Redding, managing director at ProCare Therapy, a teacher staffing agency.

The top reason teachers nationwide are leaving the profession is pay.

“We are just absolutely not keeping up with inflation. It’s more and more difficult to go grocery shopping every week,” said teacher Katie Sparks Jones.

Recently, teachers unions have worked to negotiate higher salaries, and many Florida school districts have been trying to find ways to increase pay — like by asking voters to approve a millage referendum this November.

“The most important thing you can do for a child’s education is put a quality teacher in the classroom,” Beth Rawlins with Citizens for Pinellas Schools said.

While money is a major factor in retention, Redding believes there are other options that can help as well. He encourages districts to think outside the box.

That can include offering nontraditional staffing options, like travel or temporary positions, performance incentives, professional development opportunities and a reduced workload.

“I think we can only get there if we get more people into schools. So the more people we get in there would allow for the reduced workload,” said Redding.

The Pinellas County School District has also recently tried to get creative by planning to offer affordable child care options for employees.

Overall, leaders around the country are working to find solutions fast as more teachers leave.

“What does that leave behind, right? Like, that leaves the people that are staying behind more to deal with. Their workload is increased. It’s much harder,” said Redding.

A report projects that there will be 200,000 vacancies in the U.S. by the 2024-2025 school year.

“It’s progressively going to get worse,” said Redding.

This story was originally published by Larissa Scott at Scripps News Tampa.