Fewer people are training to be teachers, writes Chad Aldeman, policy director of Georgetown's Edunomics Lab, in Education Next. "There are 20 to 30 percent fewer people going into teaching each year than there were a decade ago," he writes.
All of the decline comes from traditional teacher ed programs, which produced 29 percent fewer graduates from 2013 to 2019, Aldeman writes. The number of new teachers "rose by 18 percent for alternative-route programs, which tend to be shorter and cheaper." But these alternate programs are much smaller to start with.
Aldeman doesn't blame the pandemic or the culture wars for discouraging people from pursuing a teaching career. These factors predate the drop in interest, he writes.
He thinks schools need to raise starting salaries and pay bonuses to teachers in hard-to-fill special education and STEM jobs.
In addition, policymakers need to look at whether Obama-era “raising the bar” reforms in teacher licensing are screening out people who'd make effective teachers, Aldeman writes. Some of the requirements "have little value in predicting who’s going to become a good classroom teacher."
He proposes that states "give more autonomy to districts to select their own teachers at the front end, while requiring teachers to demonstrate effectiveness in order to qualify for more permanent, advanced instructional roles."