Among other items on the South Dakota Board of Regents’ agenda last week was a report on teacher education. The Regents learned that…
- Out of approximately 1,600 teacher education candidates in the Regental system in FY2014, only six are studying to be chemistry teachers. Four are aiming at speech, four want to teach business, and three are majoring in industrial/technical education. The FY2014 cohort included one aspiring physics teacher and one aspiring computer teacher.
- After dropping 25% under the Rounds Administration, the number of Regental students getting teacher degrees has resurged and held steady under the Daugaard Administration at about 475 a year.
Since FY2002, 52.5% of our teacher education graduates have been placed in an in-state school district. In other words, to meet in-state demand, our state teacher education programs need to graduate nearly twice as many students as anticipated K-12 teaching openings.
- Under Governor Rounds, the percentage of teacher education graduates who got teaching jobs in South Dakota schools in their first year out floated between 28.6% and 38.8%. Under Governor Daugaard, the first-year placement rate jumped in FY2014 to 47.5%.
Then comes Appendix B, the Labor Market Analysis, which I find sufficiently instructive to quote in full, with tables:
American Community Survey (ACS) data help to shed additional light on the teacher labor force in the upper Midwest. Using the newest available ACS PUMS datasets, additional analysis was conducted on the employment rates, earnings, and professional placements of educators in 2013.
Table B1 shows two key labor market outcomes for teachers in 2013. The first column gives the unemployment rates of the teaching labor force, while the second column shows median earnings of employed teachers. The exceptionally low unemployment rates seen in this table – for South Dakota and the larger region alike – are suggestive of a labor shortage. One possible driver of such a shortage is implicated by a second observation from this table: that workers employed as teachers earned substantially less in 2013 in South Dakota than in any other neighboring state.
Table B2 provides information about the industrial and occupational placements of employed workers with an undergraduate degree in education. Only about half of such workers in South Dakota work in the field of K12 education in some capacity. Similarly, only four in ten South Dakota workers with a teaching credential actually work in a K12 teaching occupation. The latter rate appears somewhat lower than those of other states, and may further hint at a systemic disinclination of teacher education graduates to enter and/or remain in the K12 teaching profession in South Dakota.
South Dakota’s teacher shortage is not just a lack of bodies. For every four teachers on the job in South Dakota, we evidently have six workers with teacher education degrees who look at that median income, look at Common Core, look at the general neglect and disrespect given to education by the Legislature, and say, “I’m not giving up a house for that.” Plenty of qualified teachers in other states sit out, too, but the sit-out rate is highest in South Dakota.
Blue Ribbon Task Force on Teachers and Students, don’t cudgel thy brains too hard on the conclusion here: South Dakota’s low pay deters a higher percentage of aspiring teachers from entering and staying in the profession that any other state.