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Our opinion: Looming crisis in the classrooms

Five Warren County School District teachers next year and one administrator will be using an emergency permit to do their jobs.

That’s disturbing — but no more disturbing than the fact that the issue has been more prevalent in the district over the past few years. The district is currently working through the emergency designation process with 30 of its 366 teachers and four of its administrators.

The fact the shortage is happening at the state level and nationally is of no help for local school districts that are trying to find qualified teachers to fill their classrooms. At least Warren County is trying to do something about the issue.

District officials started last year working with Edinboro University on programs that would allow a teacher on an emergency certification with a comparable bachelor’s degree to go back to school for required education courses while still teaching in the district. It’s an interesting idea that perhaps should become state law so that other colleges in the area like Gannon or Mercyhurst, or colleges providing courses online, can participate as well.

That will help, but not solve, the teacher shortage. The state really needs to figure out how to attract more youth into teaching careers, if the state’s teacher training regimen is helping drive would-be teachers from the classroom and what can be done to decrease the cost of college training and maintaining teaching certifications, which teachers’ union officials say is a top barrier to attracting teachers.

Since 2010, the number of instructional teaching certificates issued by the state Education Department has decreased by 66%. Fewer teachers to fill the same number of classrooms is an equation that can’t be solved. Either there need to be fewer classrooms, or more teachers.

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