INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana schools have more than 4,200 open jobs right now, and more than half of those openings are teacher positions, according to the state’s education online job board.
As of Tuesday, more than 2,500 of the open positions posted on the site are teaching jobs.
“I would say in the past, we’ve been a little bit more full than we are now,” said Tina Grady of East Allen County Schools.
Grady is trying to fill several openings in her district, including six special education teacher positions.
“We’re just hopeful,” she said. “I think that’s, at this point, the best we can do is be hopeful.”
East Allen County Schools is launching a new Intro to Education Professions class in the fall for juniors and seniors to help recruit them into the field, Grady said.
For Indiana colleges and universities, working with high schools is part of the solution to address the teacher shortage. But they’re not stopping there.
“Sort of the traditional route as well as the alternative pathway,” said Jeffrey Anderson, an associate dean for the IU School of Education. “If you change your mind [at] 30 or 40, 50 or 60 and you decide you want to become a teacher, we also have routes there.”
Universities are also trying to prevent teaching graduates from leaving the field. One way Purdue University is doing that is by extending the student teaching period.
“By expanding student teaching, it’s more supportive practice and helping them become more reflective about what works, what doesn’t work,” said Kathryn Obenchain, an associate dean for Purdue University’s College of Education.
Still, the Indiana State Teachers Association is calling on lawmakers to do more next year to improve teacher pay and working conditions.
“Our pay needs to be competitive,” said Jennifer Smith-Margraf, vice president of the Indiana State Teachers Association. “And that shouldn’t be… just for teachers. That should be for all educators.”
Indiana lawmakers will make decisions on school funding when they rewrite the state’s budget early next year.