State report: Teacher shortage expands to nearly 9 of 10 schools in Minnesota

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 12:44 PM CST
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ST. PAUL (Valley News Live) - A new state report says the shortage of full-time and substitute teachers has reached nearly every school district in Minnesota, which Education Minnesota President Denise Specht said is affecting the quality of learning and burning out educators of all kinds.

“Every student needs some personal attention from their teachers, but it’s getting harder and harder for overworked teachers to give it,” Specht said. “There simply aren’t enough Minnesotans willing to teach for what districts are paying and the pensions offered by the state. If Minnesota’s elected leaders want to provide a world-class education to Minnesota’s students, those leaders need to improve the compensation and working conditions of the state’s teachers before we lose even more of them to burnout.”

Specht said this report is another sign of the worsening conditions for the state’s licensed teachers, but they’re hearing about the same shortages for education support professionals and other school employees, too.

“The shortage of school staff, including educators of color and on mental health teams, is becoming the most serious challenge in public education right now,” Specht explained.

The state’s biennial Teacher Supply and Demand Report is released in odd-numbered years and contains information about the overall employment outlook for licensed teachers with specific data points on efforts to racially diversify the teaching profession.

The report was prepared by the state of Minnesota’s Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board. The 2023 report can be found here.

Among the highlights:

  • The staffing shortage is expanding. Nearly nine of 10 school districts report being “somewhat significantly” or “very significantly” affected by the teacher shortage (84%) and the substitute teacher shortage (89%). These figures are up from 70% and 70% in the 2021 report.
  • Nearly one in four Minnesotans holding a teaching license are not teaching in a public school or charter school.
  • Nearly a third of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years in the profession, which is consistent with past reports. This statistic does not include more experienced teachers who resign before retirement age.
  • 8% of all teaching assignments in Minnesota are filled by teachers who do not hold the appropriate professional license for that assignment. This group includes teachers holding licenses with minimal or no requirements for formal training, teachers with variances to teach outside their field and teachers in special programs. This is a particularly big issue in special education.
  • As in previous years, the racial and ethnic diversity of Minnesota’s students is not reflected in the state’s teaching corps. Statewide, 6.24% of Minnesota teachers are teachers of color or Indigenous, while 40% of students are. In the seven-county metropolitan area, 9.68% of teachers are teachers of color or Indigenous while the student population was reported as 50.15% students of color or Indigenous.
  • While still not reflecting the racial diversity of the state’s students, the candidates completing teacher preparation in Minnesota are more diverse than Minnesota’s existing teacher workforce. The report says 11.14% of teacher candidates who completed teacher preparation in Minnesota are people of color or Indigenous. Also, 17.14% of all enrolled teacher candidates are people of color or Indigenous.