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Critical Nationwide Teacher Shortage

Just a few years ago, teachers were being laid off due to the recession and forced to seek alternative careers. Since the economy appears to be on an upswing, school districts can afford to hire new teachers but they are having a tough time finding people who will answer the call.

"We are no longer in a layoff situation," Monica Vasquez, chief human resources officer for the San Francisco Unified School District, told the New York Times. "But there is an impending teacher shortage," Ms. Vasquez added, before correcting herself: "It's not impending. It's here."

Her district offered early contracts to 140 teachers last spring in a bid to secure candidates before other districts snapped them up.

The New York Times reports that school districts are aggressively recruiting prospective teachers from around the country. Some are even asking prospects to train on the job with little, if any, classroom experience.

Louisville, Kentucky.; Nashville; Oklahoma City; and Providence, Rhode Island, are among the large urban school districts having trouble finding teachers, according to the Council of the Great City Schools, which represents large urban districts. Just one month before the opening of classes, Charlotte, N.C., was desperately trying to fill 200 vacancies.

Students may have veered away from the education profession due to job insecurity and new options for careers in technology. In California, the number of people entering teacher preparation programs dropped by more than 55 percent from 2008 to 2012, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Nationally, the drop was 30 percent from 2010 to 2014, according to federal data.

Alternative programs like Teach for America, which will place about 4,000 teachers in schools across the country this fall, have also experienced recruitment problems.

The increase in students who are learning English as a second language also affects the teacher shortage that is sweeping the nation since these students need bilingual teachers.

Student teachers like Jenny Cavins who still has a semester to finish before she graduates will begin teaching third grade — in both English and Spanish — at Flowery Elementary School in Sonoma.

"The applicant pool was next to nothing," Esmeralda Sanchez Moseley, the principal at Flowery told the New York Times. "It's crazy. Six years ago, this would not have happened, but now that is the landscape we are in."

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