The challenge

Beyond teacher shortage

We’re not facing a teacher supply problem. We’re facing a workforce design problem.


Change in people enrolled in teacher preparation programs 2011–16

Graphic showing 25 percent vacant teaching positions in Arizona

Source: U.S. Department of Education

For some time, fewer people have been entering the education profession. More people are leaving it or retiring early. Principal and leader retention continues to challenge schools.

A December 2018 survey by the Arizona School Personnel Administrators Association reported that 75.2% of teacher positions in the state remained  “vacant or were filled by individuals not meeting standard teaching requirements.”

The 2019 PDK Poll of the Public’s Attitudes Toward the Public Schools reports that 50% of teachers “say they’ve seriously considered leaving the profession in recent years.”

Simply certifying more people to perform jobs they are likely to leave in search of more money, status or professional stimulation is not a durable solution.

All things to all people all the time

The job is hard in specific ways

Graphic representing a heavy burden of teacher metrics

In the standard one teacher, one classroom model, we ask all teachers to be content experts and professional pedagogues; to assess children with learning disabilities and provide differentiated experiences to advanced students; to be role models and social workers; and much more.

Too often, in too many schools, the job of being a teacher looks the same on day 5,000 as it did on day one.

That’s troubling on two fronts: first, it’s hard for rookies and novices to meet the volume and variety of learning needs their students have; second, a profession that looks the same on day 5,000 as it does on day one isn’t offering pathways for professional growth and advancement. That’s a recipe for burnout and attrition.

If we’re not getting the educator workforce or the learning outcomes we want, we need to redesign the profession, the workplace, and how we prepare people for both.

Meeting the challenge