Most Utahns are aware of a crippling teacher shortage impacting Utah’s public schools. Data from Envision Utah shows that 42% of teachers in Utah leave the profession within 5 years. The numbers are even worse among teachers that come out of Utah’s Alternative Pathway to Teaching and Alternative Routes to Licensure, a program that relies on intensive mentorship and professional development that many schools cannot afford. Fewer than half of all Utahns are satisfied with public education, and 84% think high teacher quality is imperative to improving it. Indeed, qualified teachers are the strongest indicator of student achievement, even controlling for poverty.
The teacher shortage may seem daunting, but there’s something you can do about it!
1. Learn about the teacher shortage in Utah and what can be done to fix it. Utah needs to pursue many strategies to tackle the teacher shortage issue, including reducing teacher turnover, encouraging more students to major in teaching and recruiting more former teachers. But we need to begin by understanding the teacher shortage issue in order to figure out the best solutions.
- Watch this two minute video by Envision Utah to gain a better understanding of the issue and some possible solutions.
- Share this video on social media to help spread the word and inform other Utahns about what is causing the teacher shortage and how we can begin to fix it.
2. Support paraprofessionals to improve education. School support staff like paraprofessionals and special ed teachers make low pay rates, are forced to work only up to 29 hours and receive no benefits, causing these teachers to turn over even faster than full-time teachers and placing the burden of filling in for and training new support staff on over-taxed teachers and administrators. Improve working conditions for all teachers by advocating for better pay rates for paraprofessionals.
- Contact your District and State School Board reps and encourage them to raise the pay-rates of paraprofessionals and special ed teachers, including aids and long-term subs, to rates in comparable states like Wyoming in order to improve conditions for full-time teachers and administrators. Find out who your school board reps are by going to vote.utah.gov, entering your address and clicking “Elected Officials”.