What Does It Mean to Have a ‘National’ Teacher Shortage?

There’s been a lot of ink spilled over what’s been framed as a national shortage of teachers, including fears of a coronavirus-related mass exodus from classrooms that have never quite materialized.

Fewer words have been spent on defining what, precisely, is meant when people say the education system is facing a drought of teachers from coast to coast.

That’s what researchers at Kansas State University set out to quantify when they began crunching the numbers on teacher vacancies for all 50 states. A problem that became apparent early on was that there simply was no central source for the information they were seeking — even at the state level.

Researchers painstakingly pieced together data from a swath of government sources and news reports, cataloging more recent data from the 2021-22 school year for some states but having to reach as far back as 2014-15 for others. For 13 states, their search yielded no data about teacher vacancies.

Source: Kansas State University. Data visualization by Nadia Tamez-Robledo.

At what point, exactly, does the ratio of teacher vacancies to students signal a shortage? Tuan D. Nguyen, an assistant professor at Kansas State University’s College of Education, says there’s no consensus about when the rate of vacancies tips into a crisis.

“That’s one of the things that I think that we — this includes researchers and policy makers and the public — have to decide,” Nguyen says. “At what level do we think it is an issue? You have to take into account

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Tennessee House speakers consider rejecting federal education money

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — One of Tennessee’s most influential Republican lawmakers says the state should stop accepting the nearly $1.8 billion of federal K-12 education dollars that help provide support for low-income students, English learners and students with disabilities.

House Speaker Cameron Sexton told The Associated Press that he had introduced a bill to explore the idea during this year’s legislative session and had begun discussions with Gov. Bill Lee and other key GOP lawmakers.

“Basically, we’ll be able to educate the kids how Tennessee sees fit,” Sexton said, pointing that rejecting the money would mean that Tennessee would no longer have “federal government interference.”

To date, no state has successfully rejected federal education funds even as the state and local officials have long grumbled about some of the requirements and testing that at times came attached to the money. The idea has also come up elsewhere in recent months among GOP officials, including in Oklahoma and South Carolina.

Many Republican politicians and candidates at the federal level have also made a habit of calling for the outright elimination of the US Department of Education.

READ MORE: Tennessee governor signs bill strictly regulating medication abortions

According to Sexton, Tennessee is currently in the financial position to use state tax dollars to replace federal education funds. He pointed to the $3.2 billion in new spending outlined in Gov. Lee’s recent budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year as proof that the state could easily cover the federal government’s portion.

Federal dollars

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The Story Of Education In Florida Is Much Bigger Than An AP Controversy

If you read headlines atop most media outlet reports and editorials, you’d be forgiven for assuming Florida’s Republican governor and potential presidential hopeful Ron DeSantis is limiting learning for students in the Sunshine State. But the media outrage over Florida’s AP choices isn’t the whole story—at least not the life-changing stories parents care about most.

Parents consistently demand better for their kids, and the people’s representatives in Tallahassee actually do something about it. Legislators there passed a public charter school bill in 1996 and instituted no fewer than four private scholarship programs in the following years enrolling more than 150,000 kids. In fact, more than half of Florida students exercise some sort of “school choice” whether it be a scholarship program, a magnet school, dual enrollment, online, or anything else besides their government-assigned school. The results are life-changing.

SailFuture Academy in St. Petersburg is one such place where lives are changed. Students there know why the school lives up to its name right away—a boat is one of their classrooms. Most of them are in foster care, 80 percent of whom have an immediate family member that has been or is currently in the clinic.

The school’s founder, Mike Long knows what a second chance can do. He spent more than a year in and out of Florida’s juvenile justice system and was placed in a multitude of intervention programs—too numerous to count. His passion to

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Good Friend Inc. Expands Educational Initiatives With The Launch Of Online Academy

The organization’s first two courses are tailored to students in grades K-5 and in middle school

BROOKFIELD, Wis., Feb. 14, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Good Friend Inc. is pleased to announce the launch of two new online courses as part of their Online Academy. We All Fit and Choosing to be a Good Friend courses are now live. Teachers and other service providers can register through the Good Friend Inc. website.

a 501(c)(3) public charity

a 501(c)(3) public charity

“We’re incredibly thrilled to start offering two student-focused online course bundles that can be facilitated at any time,” said a rep from Good Friend. “These bundles are an amazing fit for classrooms of all sizes, and are a great resource for teachers, social workers, child service providers, and school counselors. They include both online and offline materials, and are intended to be a robust way of promoting autism and neurodivergence awareness, acceptance, and empathy building.”

We All Fit is a 20-minute, award-winning peer education documentary available in English and Spanish, designed for students ages five through 11. The film was created to help neuromajority elementary students better understand and relate to their peers who are on the autism spectrum. the We All Fit online course includes developmentally-specific film discussion guides, the interactive Kahoot! Games, activity printouts, and much more.

the Choosing to Be a Good Friend the online course is tailored to middle school students ages 11-14. In the film, available in English and soon to be available in Spanish, students who are on

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Judge tosses challenge to Florida education law

TALLAHSSEE – For the second time in less than five months, a federal judge has rejected a lawsuit seeking to block a controversial Florida law that restricts classroom instruction on gender identity and sexual orientation.

US District Judge Allen Winsor on Wednesday issued a 21-page decision dismissing a revised lawsuit filed by students, parents and teachers, who argued the law was unconstitutional. Winsor ruled that the plaintiffs had not “alleged sufficient facts” to show they had legal standing to challenge the law.

“Plaintifs have shown a strident disagreement with the new law, and they have alleged facts to show its very existence causes them deep hurt and disappointment,” Winsor wrote. “But to invoke a federal court’s jurisdiction, they must allege more. Their failure to do so requires dismissal.”

Winsor on Sept. 29 dismissed an earlier version of the case on similar grounds but left open the possibility that the plaintiffs’ attorneys could re-file the lawsuit. The revised version, filed in October, argued that the plaintiffs have suffered “concrete harms” from the 2022 law (HB 1557).

“They have been denied equal educational opportunities they would like to receive, in the curriculum and beyond, and they have been subjected to a discriminatory educational environment that treats LGBTQ people and issues as something to be shunned and avoided, on pain of discipline and liability ,” the revised lawsuit said. “This type of overtly discriminatory treatment has no place in a free democratic society and should not be permitted to stand.”

The law, which

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