Teachers needed, college students not flocking to get certified

By Keith Boles - bio | email feedback

WALNUT RIDGE, AR (KAIT) - Many schools are having trouble filling teaching positions because a lot of new teachers aren't getting credentialed in areas that shortages exist.

Many Special Education positions go wanting either because certified teachers don't want to teach in that area or no qualified teacher candidates are applying.

What are college teaching programs telling prospective students, and how big of a problem is this for schools?

Dr. Brad Baine is the Chair of the Education Department at Williams Baptist, and says the school shows potential students what some of the most current trends are to better land a job after graduation.

Baine, "And we'll advise them on the education field, maybe some of the current trends that are out there and opportunities they can pursue."

Baine says most Williams education graduates are early childhood and physical education teachers.

Baine, "We don't have Special Education here, yet we offer our students a diverse curriculum here that can prepare them for the other degree if they want to pursue that. But for science and math we let our prospective students know those are high need areas."

"I don't know that I would want to do Special Ed because I know that once you're "in" Special Ed you're "in" Special Ed." says Williams Senior Chelsea Abbott, she is getting ready for student teaching.

Abbott says the current crop of teachers has her looking at maybe expanding beyond elementary school.

Abbott, "I have thought about getting certified in upper grade levels. Maybe going up through the 8th grade."

A recent report from the state legislature says that  nearly 1300 waivers were granted for teachers to teach special education classes who were not certified in that area.

Kelly Colbert supervises the Special Education program for the Paragould School District. She says most certified teachers can teach Special Ed at lower grade levels.

Colbert, "In their training, even though they are not getting a Special Education degree they do have some classwork."

The most common certifications are in Early Childhood Education, Kindergarten through 6th grade, and coaching or Physical Education.

None of which is a critical need.

Colbert said this year they hired a teacher with a regular education degree to teach one of those Special Ed courses that are so hard to fill.

Colbert, "But she's going back for those hours. But typically we've been fortunate especially at the kindergarten through Junior High level."

So what are the critical needs for teachers?

Guidance and Counseling, Gifted and Talented education, Library// Media, Sciences and High School Physics, and of course, Math.

So if you're thinking about being a teacher or currently a teacher and thinking about what to do with your career.. Now you know some options.

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