August 14, 2015

Glenda Ritz: Teacher Shortage 'Could Get Worse'

Glenda Ritz is the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction - Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana

Glenda Ritz is the Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction

Kyle Stokes/StateImpact Indiana
Glenda Ritz
Indiana Superintendent of Public Instruction

When I first ran for office, one of my goals was to ensure that the topic of education took a place of prominence in our daily conversation.  Among other things, this includes understanding the great work that teachers do in our classrooms every day and increasing our respect for those that work with our children day in and day out.

Unfortunately, over the last decade we have seen politics invade our classrooms. Now, our schools and communities are paying the price.  Indiana is experiencing asignificant teacher shortage and schools are having trouble filling needed positions.

Statewide, Indiana has seen an 18 percent drop in the number of teachers receiving first time licenses over the last five years. Unfortunately, this problem could get worse as schools of education throughout Indiana are experiencing significant drops in enrollment that will only make it more difficult for schools to fill openings moving forward.

As a lifelong educator, I know firsthand the importance of having highly effective teachers in our classrooms and the effect they can have on the lives of their students.  Indiana needs to ensure that our schools can recruit the young teachers they need while also working to keep our highly effective educators in the classroom so that they can be a resource for younger teachers.

To address this issue, I have formed a blue ribbon commission of educators throughout Indiana.  Some of Indiana’s best teachers will serve on this commission and they will be making recommendations on how we can recruit the next generation of educators in our state while also retaining highly effective educators in our classrooms.

These recommendations will drive the legislative agenda of the Department of Education during the coming legislative session.  As Superintendent, I expect our legislators and governor to give this problem the attention it deserves.  I will do everything in my power to ensure that it remains in the public discussion as long as it persists.

Like education, this issue should not be a Democratic one or a Republican one.  In order to ensure that our children are prepared for tomorrow, they need to have excellent teachers today.  The future of our state requires nothing less.

This opinon piece was submitted by the Indiana Department of Education.

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