Education is the biggest industry in Philadelphia and while we have a wealth of teaching hospitals and some of the best universities in the country, surprisingly Philadelphia faces a shortage of qualified teachers in its public schools. In fact, the situation became so dire that last March the district launched a campaign to hire 800 new teachers as soon as possible. This recent teacher shortage meant the district had to hire substitutes to cover classes, or in some cases, serve as long-term teachers; in point of fact, the need for qualified teachers was so severe, the city’s contractor for substitute teachers couldn’t provide the needed personnel. With 220 schools and over 134,000 students, there is a high demand for qualified teachers – especially those teachers certified (or dual certified) in special education.
Why is there a Shortage of Teachers in Philadelphia?
For almost a decade the number of people training as teachers has dropped from 719,000 in 2010 to 499,000 in 2014, and while at first blush that sounds discouraging it puts teachers in control. With increased demand for teachers in large cities like Philadelphia, teachers in search of employment now have the best chance to accept a job that’s not just the right position for them, but also for the district and its students.
What is more, everyone from the federal government to small private schools are offering teachers incentives to seriously consider planting roots at schools in urban districts. Mentoring programs, partial student loan forgiveness and even modest signing bonuses have been used to lure new teachers to the classroom – and this isn’t some fleeting idea, these are stable enticements to help fill teaching vacancies.
The City of Philadelphia has an immediate need for qualified, passionate teachers. Over the last few years Philadelphia has reversed a long and steady population drain, and with that upturn comes higher student enrollment. Helping to match qualified teachers with open positions is the only permanent and suitable fix for the city’s growing population.