The Teacher Shortage Crisis: How Innovative Curricula Can Help Transform the Education System

Right now, the U.S. education system is experiencing an alarming teacher shortage crisis and the possibility of attracting new talent to replace those transitioning looks grim‌. At the start of 2022, teaching vacancies were heavily driven by resignations (51%), followed by retirement (21%) across 44% of public schools nationwide. As more teachers embrace transitioning out of the public education system, it is clearly time for a new approach to influence positive changes in our schools, students, and the overall teaching profession.

What is Causing the Teacher Shortage and Public Education Crisis?

The causes of teacher shortages vary depending on who is a part of the discussion. However, there are recurring themes that remain prominent in the education industry. Many teachers reference one or more of the following reasons for leaving:

  • Burnout due to high stress and long hours

  • Low salaries

  • Limited educational resources

  • An increasing lack of support from administrators and the overall education system

  • Unsafe learning environments (lack of student discipline, school shootings, aggressive parents)

  • An inability to work on and teach innovative curricula

While this list is not the full picture, it offers insight into what teachers are up against. A profession once held in high regard has become a punching bag for critics. Recent headlines range from declarations made that ‘anyone can teach’ to districts announcing their intentions to lower certification requirements to fill the many vacancies. These actions undoubtedly add to the strains teachers were already experiencing following the stresses of teaching (or trying to) during the Covid-19 pandemic, while still faced with limited resources and support.

The nation’s largest union, representing roughly three million educators, the National Education Association (NEA), surveyed its members on the main issues they faced during the pandemic in January 2022. Highlights from the survey showed that:

  • 74% of members had to fill in for colleagues due to shortages

  • 91% indicated that pandemic-related stress significantly affected educators

  • 86% of members indicated seeing more of their colleagues resigning or retiring than before the pandemic

The pandemic further highlighted the seriousness of the problems the public education system faces.

Virtual Learning and the Pandemic

The pandemic pounced on the world, affecting us all personally and professionally. Teachers became a large part of the job exodus movement coined the Great Resignation as the pandemic took its toll. As we were all forced to adjust to remote living and working at the height of Covid-19 restrictions, teachers found themselves in unique situations.