Minnesota aims to hire, retain educators as shortage continues

There are growing concerns across Minnesota when it comes to teacher shortages.

A report says the state has 1,000 fewer teachers in classrooms than this time last year.

Denise Specht, the president of Education Minnesota, says these numbers are concerning, and it’s having a direct impact on students across the state.

According to a report from the Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board, Minnesota lost nearly 4,700 experienced teachers from June 2021 to June 2022. Some of those jobs have been filled, but Education Minnesota says those positions are often filled by teachers with less training – and less experience – in the classroom.

“It really begs the question – what are we doing with the kids when we don’t have enough adults in the school system to teach and support them in their learning?” said Specht.

Specht says fewer teachers mean oversized classes and in many cases, students who aren’t getting the individualized attention they need to be successful.

It also isn’t just teachers who are needed in education. Districts across the state are having trouble finding paraprofessionals, support staff, and bus drivers.

When it comes to finding teachers, Specht says the solution is twofold.

“We have to be looking at this with a two-prong approach. One is, how do we get more people into the profession? But then, once we do become instructors, we have to be looking at “how do we keep people there?” added Specht.

According to Specht, part of the solution for retention is offering teachers and support staff better pay and better benefits. She says the other part is respect and ensuring educators feel supported.