(NewsNation) — As students return to classrooms for the 2022-2023 school year, more school districts across the nation are seeing a decline in enrollment. The decline could add to an already existing issue within the public school system: a national teacher shortage.
More than 300,000 public school teachers and other staff have quit since 2020, and more educators plan to do the same.
A recent poll by the National Education Association found that 55 percent of educators say they would leave the profession sooner than they planned — that’s up from 37 percent in August 2021.
Kathleen Porter-Magee, the superintendent of Partnership Schools, a network of urban Catholic schools in New York and Cleveland, answered viewers’ questions about how school districts are combating teacher shortages on “Morning in America.”
Porter-Magee said the decline in student enrollment impacts teachers and educators in many ways, the first and most important is it cuts budgets.
Schools are funded by a system that uses per-pupil allocation. With the decline in enrollment, the total budget schools have to spend goes down, too, she said.
Q: “What are school districts doing to encourage teachers to come to their school districts?” – Jesse Lung, Alabama
Porter-Magee: “What we’re experiencing is that teachers we know are in high demand, and there are schools and districts that are offering signing bonuses, particularly for hard-to-staff areas,” Porter-Magee said. “Schools do have some money to play around with, particularly from COVID relief. I think, thinking creatively about how to use some of that funding — potentially to provide a signing bonus or other incentives — that’s something we’re seeing, and I think that’s something that schools can consider.”
She also said the company culture and work environments that school districts build are as important.
“I think one of the things that we’re experiencing, not just in education, but across sectors is that people are looking for warm and supportive work environments. So, I think that is something that is very much within school leaders’ and district leaders’ control to find a way to provide that kind of supportive culture that’s going to not just attract people today but retain them for the long term,” Porter-Magee said.
Q: “How do we make things more equal from state to state, and even from district to district, so that teachers in all districts and states feel valued?” — Tom, Osprey, Florida
“I think what we want to look for is not necessarily standardization, but benchmarking within and across communities. I think that’s something that leaders try to do because they know they’re competing within their community for top talent. so I think that that’s something that’s fresh on our mind, but it’s something you’re going to have to continue to look for and really try to do, especially as the labor market is particularly tight,” Porter-Magee said.