What has led to a Shortage of Math and Science Teachers in Arkansas?

August 23, 2006 -- Posted at 6:10 p.m. CDT

WILSON, AR -- It seems there's a shortage of math and science teachers across the state of Arkansas.

One school in Region 8 in particular has had a hard time finding upper level math teachers.

This past spring two math teachers left Rivercrest High School, leaving the school scrambling to find replacements.

"Our primary shortage was for secondary math teachers, specifically grades nine through twelve," said Renella Clemons, with the South Mississippi County Schools.

The problem is finding someone who can do the job, a problem that is proving to be more and more common in Arkansas.

"What we found is that we're just not producing those people in the state that are going into math education.  We have people who major in math, but don't have the education component, and many of those are going into industry instead of education," said Clemons.

There are many other schools that are in the same position as Rivercrest.  Some have been forced to hire people that aren't qualified to teach, who have earned those qualifications after being hired.

New math teacher Merciditias Felizco says for many it isn't the subject matter that keeps teachers away, it's the students.

"Teaching math is easy for the math people.  It's just that it is hard to handle students if you're going to be paid this much," said Felizco.

"I think it's a challenge for all schools to have a quality program, and that's certainly where we want to be," said Clemons.

The South Mississippi School District used advertising to find the teachers that they needed.

They used local and state newspapers as well as an online site called