A recent report published by the Florida Department of Education suggests that the current teacher shortage is expected to double by the end of 2022, reaching an all-time high of 9,000 vacancies across the state, also highlighting the relative lack of education vocational students to fill the gaps.
Among core subjects in Florida schools, English is being hit the hardest by the lack of qualified teachers. A study within the report finds that just over 4 percent of educators hold subject certification in English and reading skills, resulting in it having the highest concentration of out-of-field teachers. In totality, for the 591,461 registered classes taught at schools across the state, nearly 60,000 are taught by someone not certified to teach that field of study, including over 9 percent of English classes.
“We want high-quality education whenever we can get it,” Board of Education Chair Tom Grady said. “But having someone who is motivated and in an education program, as opposed to having no one, maybe there is something there we can do.”
Efforts to work around the shortage include combining classes, streamlining curriculum, and in the case of New Mexico, which is suffering from a similar shortage, having the Governor work as a substitute teacher.
In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis is attempting to draw in prospective teachers through a budget proposal that would increase teacher base pay.
“Since day one, I have been focused on making Florida a leader in education, and I am proud to announce my proposals to invest record funding into our education system over the next year,” said DeSantis. “By continuing to boost teacher pay, give bonuses to principals and teachers, prioritize workforce education, foster a strong civics curriculum, and replace the FSA with progress monitoring, we’re making a significant difference in the lives of our students.”
For educational services, a round of $1,000 bonus checks for approximately 179,000 teachers and principals in Florida was proposed, as well as $600 million for teacher pay.
An increase in per-student funding to reach $8,000 per student will be coupled with an elimination of the Florida Standards Assessment and its replacement with progress monitoring.
A pair of bills, House Bill 1017 and SB 1576, currently in play to be signed into law, would requires district school superintendents to identify critical employment shortages of educational support employees within school districts, provide specified incentives, and annually provide reports to Legislature while additionally requiring school districts to adopt and implement specified programs for career development of education paraprofessionals.