The Teacher Workforce Has Changed
Is Your Marketing Keeping Up?
Oct 24, 2023
By Bob Stimolo
Is there a shortage of teachers? Yes and no. According to an article on npr.org, we have more teachers now than we did before the pandemic and we have fewer students. However, qualified special education, science, and math teachers are scarce (6 things to know about U.S. teacher shortages and how to solve them, Cory Turner and Nicole Cohen).
We do not have a good nationwide system for managing the teacher workforce. We lack timely, reliable data regarding how many of which kind of teachers there are in our schools and districts. This lack of timely data makes it difficult to address changes in the workforce.
Teacher pay has stagnated while the cost of a four-year degree has nearly doubled. There is enormous variation in school funding and teacher pay from state to state. High poverty and high minority districts are hit the hardest.
Is a 4-day School Week in Our Future?
In an effort to attract more teachers to the workforce, more U.S. school districts are shifting to a 4-day workweek. A recent article that appeared on cbsnews.com makes the case that many teachers and parents prefer the shorter school week even though it involves a 50-minute longer day. In total, the difference in school hours is only 58 total hours over the school year (More U.S. school districts shifting to a 4-day week. Here’s why, Emily Mae Czachor).
While only a small percentage of schools and districts currently operate on a 4-day school week, its popularity among school administrators, parents, and students may make it a phenomenon that will continue to grow. Based on approximately 1,000 schools currently on a 4-day week program, once students and parents try it, getting them to return to a 5-day week is almost impossible.
Current Staffing Challenges in Public Schools
Higher percentages of public and private schools reported having difficulties filling open teaching positions in 2020–21 than in 2011–12. For instance, 40 percent of public schools hiring for open teaching positions in special education in 2020–21 reported having difficulties filling the opening, compared with 17 percent in 2011–12. Between 2012–13 and 2019–20, the number of persons enrolled in and completing traditional teacher preparation programs decreased (The Condition of Education 2023).
Data from the School Pulse Panel (SPP) and the National Teacher and Principal Survey (NTPS), is used to examine the extent to which elementary and secondary schools experience challenges in filling open teaching positions. In addition, data from Title II of the Higher Education Act of 1965 provides information on changes over time in the number of individuals enrolling in and completing teacher preparation programs.
Critical Shortages Among Special Ed and Elementary Grade Teachers
In the SPP August 2022 survey, 53 percent of public schools reported feeling that their school was understaffed entering the 2022–23 school year. Among these schools,
• 65 percent reported being understaffed in special education teachers;
• 43 percent reported being understaffed in general elementary teachers; and
• 15 to 33 percent reported being understaffed in other subject areas.
Forty-eight percent of public schools reported that not being able to fill vacant teaching positions since the start of the coronavirus pandemic was a contributing factor to being understaffed. Two of the most commonly reported challenges in filling vacancies were too few candidates applying for open teaching positions (69 percent) and a lack of qualified candidates applying for open teaching positions (64 percent). In October 2022, after the 2022–23 school year started, 45 percent of public schools reported having one or more vacant teaching positions.
What Does This Mean for You and Your Marketing?
Finding and keeping qualified teachers is going to be a challenge for some time to come. Educators need products and services that help them address the issues that arise when less than qualified individuals are necessary to meet education objectives.
Promotion materials are in competition for readership. Many school marketers conduct their promotions during the seasons of fall, winter, and spring. Traditional techniques used to accomplish readership are benefit-oriented headlines and or graphics, accompanied by special offers. Special offers can run the gamut from simple discounts to free trials and gifts with purchase.
In the current environment, descriptions of how your product or service improves teaching and helps make teachers more effective may have additional appeal over traditional offers. How can your product or service help teachers be more effective?
Educators purchase products and services that help solve their problems and meet today’s challenges. When we create a headline or visual that closely matches a challenge facing teachers and administrators, we improve our chance to succeed at accomplishing readership. Readership in promotion materials is the first step toward a sale.
Products and services that keep students engaged improve learning and help teachers teach. Our challenge is to find new ways to describe the benefits of our products and services including how they help teachers be more effective.
Bob is president of School Market Research Institute, a full service direct marketing agency. Take advantage of a one-half hour consultation free of charge. To learn more contact firstname.lastname@example.org.