A Nationwide Teacher Shortage Is Costing Schools $4 Billion Per Year

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by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, Jun 11, 2024 - 01:25 AM

Statewide teacher attendance in Nevada has fallen to the lowest in a decade, echoing a similar problem seen at school districts all over the United States, in places like New York and Connecticut to Chicago, Bloomberg wrote this past week.

According to staffing firm Kelly Services Inc., teacher absenteeism has risen from 6% during the Covid pandemic to 10% currently, based on data from 40 states.

The report says that this increase poses a significant economic challenge for school districts, especially as they attempt to recover from educational disruptions caused by lockdowns.

Bloomberg estimates that if 8% of the 3.2 million full-time public school teachers are absent, it could cost districts approximately $25.6 million daily, totaling about $4.4 billion each school year. This financial strain is expected to worsen with the cessation of federal stimulus funding in September.

Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab at Georgetown University, commented: “We hear from financial leaders that they’re worried about it, the cost can be from $100 to $250 a day for a sub."

"If students who missed a year of learning are now missing 10% because of chronic absence, and another 10% because their teacher is chronically absent, they are never going to get back on track,” she continued. 

Educational leaders are highlighting a troubling trend in teaching, attributing increased teacher absenteeism to challenging work conditions, behavioral issues among students, dwindling resources, and declining salaries amidst rising inflation.

According to Bloomberg/Yahoo, fewer individuals are pursuing education degrees, leading to a smaller pool of potential teachers. Before the pandemic, teachers maintained a high attendance rate of 95%, typically missing nine out of 187 school days annually.

However, recent federal data indicates that teacher absentee rates have escalated post-pandemic, with nearly three-quarters of public schools observing a rise during the 2021-22 school year.

Nevada is one of few states monitoring teacher attendance, unlike most of the top ten largest states. Post-pandemic shifts in sick time usage have affected attendance rates, as seen in Clark County's 76% rate for the 2022-23 school year.

Significant teacher absences, such as those in Connecticut where teachers missed an average of 13 days, correlate with declining student performance and increasing achievement gaps.

In New York City and Chicago, teacher absences have risen markedly, influencing educational outcomes and prompting responses like Illinois' $45 million grant program to address teacher shortages through incentives and support programs. Despite these measures, challenges persist, exacerbated by low pay, high attrition, and a shrinking pool of teachers.

This national issue is compounded by a lack of substitutes, adding strain on remaining staff and impacting the educational environment, now fraught with political tensions and heightened stress from behavioral issues.

Danette Stokes, a teacher and president of the local union chapter, the United Education Association of Shelby County in Tennessee, concluded: “The day to day operations are tiresome. A lot of teachers don’t get the support they need when it comes to discipline, we have to do what is best for us.”