The Whitewater Schools will soon select a new district administrator. It’s an important decision, but one that’s made easier by its consequent infrequency: there are few positions available at that level, and always a few candidates for each available position.
Across our state, however, hiring teachers in sufficient numbers and of sufficient quality is a more difficult matter:
According to the most recent figures available, there were 8,867 people enrolled in teacher preparation programs in Wisconsin in the 2013-’14 school year. In itself, that would be enough to fill all the expected teacher openings in coming years.
But things aren’t so simple. As Riggle [professor at St. Norbert College in DePere and president of theWisconsin Association of Colleges of Teacher Education] said, the interests students have don’t fully match what’s needed out there.
There is also the delicate but important matter of who is going into teaching. In many cases, the upcoming teachers are hardworking, capable, talented and idealistic. And in some cases, they aren’t so strong in at least a couple of those areas.
And then there is the matter of how to do better in preparing people to become teachers.
These challenges are more than cyclical, as the article’s author, Alan Borsuk of Marquette Law, notes.
After we’ve hired a new administrator, we will yet face the persistent – but now aggravated – Wisconsin problem of finding sufficient numbers of teachers. It’s neither an accident nor an insoluble mystery why faculty hiring is more difficult in some states than others. That’s a long subject for another day, but a subject and a day that cannot seriously be treated as a surprise, nor postponed indefinitely.
Our next administrator’s hiring will leave before us other hiring challenges, of many more people over many more years, yet to be resolved.