Every college graduate right now knows (or should know) that they are being tipped out into a glutted market. But few job markets are worse than early childhood education, according to the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ). In an article published in USA Today, they say that across the country, colleges are graduating more than twice as many teachers for K-5 than are needed, while specialty teaching fields like science, math, and special education still struggle to find staffing.
George Guy, an elementary school principal in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, is cited in the article as saying that his school receives 400-600 applications for any open teaching position, even as a long-term substitute. Those numbers should be a good indicator of how difficult it is to find any position at all.
“For those coming out of college, getting a full- time position immediately is not going to happen,” Guy was quoted.
NCTQ officials blame higher education for the imbalance, wishing that colleges and universities would make the effort to match supply to demand. But there are many factors at play. 29 states have cut per pupil funding for schools just since 2008, and federal aid for K-12 education in low-income areas has fallen by 10% since 2010. All of these cuts mean vanished jobs, fewer openings.
At the same time, jobs for science, math, and special education teachers stand vacant, unable to find staffing at all. It may be unrealistic for school districts to be able to special order the exact proportion of teachers they need to graduate each year from universities across the country, but there should be a solution here.
Education employers need to communicate with colleges and universities, who in turn would be responsible for communicating realistic needs and job opportunities to their upcoming graduates. Fewer students would graduate into bleak prospects for employment, and teaching rosters would be well-filled, at a benefit to all.