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BISMARCK, ND () — In continuing coverage, as KX News reported previously, North Dakota is experiencing a teacher shortage. And while this is having an impact on our state, we’re not the only ones suffering from this issue. In fact, this issue has been ongoing for many years.
A few months ago, thousands of students packed their school hallways as they returned for another school year; however, according to a new study on teacher retention in the state, some people aren’t returning, and it’s the ones we need the most, the teachers.
“Ad nauseam, we know what the problem is, we don’t have enough people going into the teaching profession,” says Nick Archuleta the North Dakota United President, “and once we have them in the profession, we’re not doing a particularly good job in retaining them.”
North Dakota United, a teacher’s union provided their recent study on teacher retention which shows 88% of educators believe teacher retention for the 2023-2024 school year is a major issue, and 93% stated that they originally saw a future in teaching, saying, they initially planned on retiring as an educator, but now, that number has declined by more than half to just 40%.
“We need to develop some bold action to make sure that we have the workforce we need to educate our future,” said Archuleta
Our state is aware of the issue and is working on solving it. In fact, this past August, Governor Doug Burgum released a statement to the Education Standards and Practices Board on this issue saying, “In addition, our administration will be developing a statewide task force through an executive order that will focus on teacher recruitment and retention strategies, programs and policies.” But, at this moment, it remains an issue.
The study provided by ND United also states, that one of the main reasons why people aren’t getting into the education field in the first place and why teachers aren’t staying is due to the low salary that comes with the job.
“It’s very clear in our poll that salary is an issue, and you know, who doesn’t want to be paid more? But teachers are paid seventy percent less than their similarly educated and experienced private sector workforce,” says Archuleta
Teacher shortages can affect our youth tremendously according to ElevateK12.com, stating that some challenges our students may face include, but are not limited to an unstable environment, which can lead to missed or insufficient learning opportunities, and schools may have to cancel courses.
Archuleta says the education board has tried to resolve this issue by hiring student teachers, but that didn’t go so well.
“We’ve allowed student teachers to be teachers of record, well that had a negative impact on those teachers who have worked hard, earned their degrees, and now they see somebody who doesn’t even have a degree yet or a license to teach yet allow to be the teacher of record, that kind of wears on folks,” says Archuleta
In their opinion, teachers who are licensed and have had the training should be the ones in the classroom. Bottom-line, the survey shows teacher retention is still a common issue and is actually getting worse.
ND United believes bold solutions based on higher pay and support from administrators would be the first step in fixing this issue, for good.