When the school year starts on Wednesday, Miami-Dade Public Schools will join districts across Florida in opening the school year with unfilled teaching spots. The state of Florida has an estimated 8,000 open teaching positions.
To help fill the positions, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed a new bill that would allow military veterans to teach with no degree.
According to the National Education Association, there are more than 280,000nationally.
In Illinois, 88% of school districts surveyed have a shortage. A survey from the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association found that Arizona has more than 2,200 teacher vacancies.
Espiritu Charter School System in Phoenix, Arizona, is struggling to find teachers for their 1,000 students, said CEO Armando Ruiz.
“Right now, you can’t hire enough teachers in Arizona, you’re going to have to go out there and find teachers wherever they are, wherever they are in whatever part of the world they may be,” Ruiz told CBS News’ Manuel Bojorquez.
The need for teachers has Ruiz looking abroad to hire a third of the charter system’s teachers, including language arts teacher Sandra Caicedo, who is from Bogota, Colombia. Caicedo said she feels the children are enjoying the new experience as well.
“They have a lot of curiosities about teachers that come from other places,” she said.
But some see the nation’s teacher shortfall as less of a shortage and more of a failure to improve salaries and working conditions.
Jason Hammond is president of the International Alliance Group, an organization that helps place teachers from abroad in U.S. schools through a J1 visa. He said that the made it harder to fill vacant positions.
“The pandemic has exacerbated the current situation and shortage. There are many contributing factors to that. Of course, teachers continue to be lower paid than other professionals with the same amount of education and responsibility levels,” said Hammond.
While Hammond believes the cultural exchange is a benefit to schools that use it, it’s not meant to be a remedy for the problem altogether and visas are only good for three to five years.
This is why Manilyn Narca, a chemistry teacher in Osceola Public Schools in Florida, is entering her final year here before returning to the Philippines
“I’m so thankful even if it’s a short-term stay, I’m so thankful to be exposed to the broad American culture and society and also be able to also bring with me my own background from the country where I came from,” she said. “It’s been great.”