The number of people in Colorado becoming teachers and education administrators has decreased for the sixth consecutive year, the state reports.
The 2016 Legislative Educator Preparation Report, released by the Colorado Departments of Education and Higher Education in December 2016, reported, “The total number of individuals completing an educator preparation program at Colorado colleges and universities during the 2015–16 academic year declined by 2.2 percent from the previous year, to 2,472. This is the sixth consecutive year the number of completers has declined.
“There has been a 24.4 percent decline in the number of educators completing an educator preparation program at Colorado colleges and universities between the years 2010–2016,” the study found.
Ross Izard, a senior education policy analyst at the Denver-based Independence Institute, says the teacher shortage could be a myth resulting from there being too many teachers in years past.
“The notion of a teacher shortage is not a new one,” Izard said. “In fact, the U.S. Department of Education has consistently identified shortages in at least some instructional areas in Colorado and other states since 1990–91, but there’s some compelling new research finding that the United States may have actually been overproducing teachers over the past several decades. We should be careful about accepting the wholesale argument we’re experiencing a massive teacher shortage. The conversation is far more nuanced than that.”
Make Teaching ‘More Attractive’
Izard says states should make it easier for people to become teachers.
“First and foremost, we need to be very careful about erecting further barriers to entry into the teaching profession,” Izard said. “Expanding licensure requirements or otherwise making it harder to get good people into classrooms will only exacerbate the situation. We could take steps to make the teaching profession more attractive for new teachers. One of the best ways to do this would be to realign our teacher pay systems to compensate teachers for performance rather than longevity.”
Michael McGrady ([email protected]) writes from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Colorado Departments of Education and Higher Education, 2016 Legislative Educator Preparation Report, December 2016: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/2016-colorado-legislative-education-preparation-report-2015-16