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MADISON COUNTY, Ala. – The state of Alabama was in the midst of a teacher shortage before the pandemic, but recent studies have shown projections that are even worse.

A new study finds that a large number of college students are not seeking degrees in education. At the same time teachers in the state are planning to leave their jobs much earlier than expected. 

According to the personnel director of Madison County Schools, prior to the COVID 19 shutdown, there were approximately two hundred teaching candidates on the hire list for Madison County schools. 

“Now we’re probably down to an average of about ten candidates for every opening,” said Ken Kubik.  

The question is how did this happen? 

Madison County Schools are looking to fill critical staffing gaps, but the problem with staffing isn’t just a Madison district issue alone.

According to the Alabama Commission on Higher Education, the number of students earning a college degree in education has fallen fifty-eight percent since 2003. Students cited testing requirements alone are just a part of the issue.

“Both Mississippi and Georgia as a part of the pandemic, really just did away with all of the testing components because they really needed teachers. Alabama has not chosen to go that route,” notes Jim Purcell, director of the ACHE.

But while the younger candidates aren’t applying for the job, veteran teachers are exiting much earlier. 

“They are retirement eligible, but they are just not staying until that 30-year mark anymore,” said Kubik. 

After a recent attrition survey completed by the ACHE, it found two out of three veteran teachers have complained of burnout and discipline issues with students, that do not equal the pay scale to continue teaching. 

“Thirty-eight percent of teachers wanting to leave within the next five years. How do you do that when you’re only producing half of what you used to produce when there’s already demand for workers in other industries,” Purcell said.

Kubik added, “there’s been this pendulum shift to this style now where it used to be teacher and parent together and now it’s teacher on an island against parent and child. That makes it a lot more challenging in a classroom without a doubt.” 

The ACHE has discussed requesting a teacher development package for new hires to be presented at the next legislature meetings in January. Madison County Schools plan to hold a job fair for teachers in May of 2022 for the first time in over two years.