State school system faces a shortage of teachers

Meghan Marsala reads to kids. WINK News photo.
Meghan Marsala reads to kids. WINK News photo.

Meghan Marsala, a Florida Gulf Coast University senior, said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“Both my parents are in the school system,” Marsala said. “It’s just always something I wanted to do with my life.”

But unfortunately, there are not enough students like her.

Halfway through the 2018-2019 school year, Florida Public Schools still need to hire more than 2,000 teachers to fill classrooms across the state, according to the Florida Education Association.

Some factors contributing to the teacher shortage are low pay and difficulty retaining teachers. By the conclusion of the fifth year, nearly half of all new teachers are gone.

“All of the performance requirements, the assessment of children, has gotten away from the basic function of what a teacher wants to teach,” said Dr. Beth Elliott, FGCU Teacher Education chair. “This puts more constraints on teachers and so they find the jobless rewarding as opposed to just teaching.”

In Southwest Florida, Charlotte County Public Schools has 13 vacancies. Lee County said they have a revolving 20-to-30-jobs while Collier County Schools has 48 open teaching spots.

Long-term substitutes are now filling many of those positions.

“In some countries, you’re as respected as a doctor or lawyer [as a teacher] and you get paid like that,” Marsala said. “But, here in the United States, you don’t.”

But she said it would not stop her.

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