Teacher shortage: It’s everywhere

Covid, the economy and personal circumstances cause a crisis in education.



Schools across the U.S. are struggling with a shortage of qualified teachers, with many positions remaining vacant or filled by underqualified individuals.

Schools across the country are being plagued by a shortage of teachers. A study from last August found that there were nearly 200,000 teaching positions across the U.S. that were vacant or held by underqualified teachers hired because qualified applicants could not be found. 

“The sad reality is that we are not the only school that is in this situation,” Assistant Principal Anabel Bonney said. “Almost every school has anywhere from one to four vacancies, some even more, and no teachers to fill them.”

According to Ms. Bonney, there are a total of 119 teachers currently at Van Nuys High School. While a whopping 35 of them are recently employed teachers, there are still at least five vacant teaching positions yet to be filled.

She says that the shortage of teachers across the district can be linked to multiple factors, but particularly, covid-19. When LAUSD required both their students and teachers to receive the vaccine, a number of teachers challenged this demand and were terminated for refusing. Others have discovered a preference for teaching online, and are now turning it into a full-time career.

The economy and inflation have also played a role in the teacher shortage crisis. Ms. Bonney mentions that the expensive cost of living in California has led many teachers to seek job opportunities in other states.

The ongoing crisis could potentially be solved by increasing the number of teachers, but it’s not as straightforward as it may seem. According to Ms. Bonney, the issue lies in the hiring process within the district.

“As teachers get processed by the district, they just get hired by other schools,” Ms. Bonney said. “I wish the district could hurry and process teachers into the district faster.”

The district is also facing a problem where there are more teachers leaving than new applicants coming in.

“The students and their learning suffer when there is no permanent teacher in the classroom” “Students do not take substitutes seriously and therefore, they do not apply themselves to doing the work of the class.”

— Ms. Bonney

“We’re just at the mercy of substitute teachers or staff that can cover while we hire a permanent person,” Ms. Bonney said.

The relationship between a teacher and their students is essential for a student’s academic success. A strong bond can create a supportive and engaging learning environment where the student feels comfortable asking questions, seeking help and participating in class. This can foster the student’s motivation and encourage their intellectual growth and development.

“The students and their learning suffer when there is no permanent teacher in the classroom,” Ms. Bonney said. “Students do not take substitutes seriously and therefore, they do not apply themselves to doing the work of the class.” 

The crisis is not just impacting student education in general, but it is also exacerbating existing disparities and inequalities in the education system. 

“The very people who are being affected are children who come from economically disadvantaged families and minority families,” English teacher and Teacher’s Union representative Mr. Christopher May said.

Educators like Mr. May are calling for more aggressive recruitment efforts to bring in qualified teachers such as identifying individuals who can be teachers and a vigorous recruitment program.

“The answer cannot come from Van Nuys High School,” he said. “It can’t even come from LA Unified. It has to be this push to identify individuals who can be teachers and we need a vigorous recruitment program.”