KSDE: Kansas teacher shortage at all-time high

Students in a classroom in Wichita, Kansas
Students in a classroom in Wichita, Kansas(KWCH)
Published: Jul. 28, 2022 at 11:03 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - This fall, Kansas could face its worst teacher shortage, according to new numbers from the Kansas department of education (KSDE). KSDE reports that 4% of jobs are unfilled as of July 2022.

This means there are roughly 1,400 open teaching jobs, and schools scramble to find solutions. Many Kansas teachers say taking on extra work has left no time for breaks and personal time, and in the long run, it could lessen the quality of education for their students.

Samantha Neil, Buhler high school ELA teacher and 2018 Kansas teacher of the year, says, “things that used to work to draw teachers out to your community are not anymore. We’re not seeing applicants.”

Many vacant positions have left many current teachers to fill in the gaps.

“We’ve been short subs, and we’ve had several teachers out on the same day, so we’ve farmed kids out to other teachers to ensure they’re still learning. People asked me last year what my role is, and I tell them I’m a sub, reading teacher, lunchroom monitor, and an assistant principal sometimes,” said Kristi Link, a teacher in Hutchinson.

Why are we seeing this shortage? Jennifer Farr, a teacher in Junction City, says the job is not as appealing as it once was. A lack of employees means more work with the same pay.

Farr says, “we don’t compensate teachers enough. I think the work is hard. There are a lot of expectations and responsibilities that come with educating students. Responsibility is hard on people. Tires them, and they seek employment elsewhere because they’ve given all they can.”

The State of Kansas has taken several steps to help mitigate the shortages this fall. According to the Topeka Capital-Journal, the state board of education voted this week to make it easier for retired teachers to return to the classroom if they choose.

The Board of Education also voted to maintain lower qualifications for substitute teachers in Kansas this summer.

It allows anyone with a diploma to obtain a temporary substitute teaching license this fall as long as they pass a background check.

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