Teacher shortages called critical

September 30, 1992|By Mark Bomster | Mark Bomster,Staff Writer

A Sept. 30 chart listing factors contributing to teacher shortages around the state contained incorrect information about some school districts. The chart should have listed Carroll County as 17th and Worcester County as fourth in the state in per-pupil spending.

The Sun regrets the errors.

Maryland continues to suffer a "critical" shortage of math, science, foreign language and special education teachers, with Baltimore City and some rural counties finding it especially difficult to fill teaching vacancies.

An annual report received yesterday by the state Board of Education projects an shortfall of 256 teachers this school year, and a shortage of 416 teachers in the 1993-1994 school year.

FOR THE RECORD - CORRECTION

Meanwhile, a total of 2,806 new teachers were hired statewide in the last school year, up from 2,692 the year before.

There were an estimated 43,600 public school teachers on staff statewide, according to state Department of Education figures.

The annual report does not break down the teacher supply situation for each jurisdiction in the state.

RTC But it names three jurisdictions -- Baltimore City and Allegany and Cecil counties -- as "areas of extraordinary shortage," a result of the low wealth and low per-pupil spending in those areas.

Those results are typical of the situation nationwide, the report states, noting that "urban and rural areas are deemed by teacher candidates to be the least desirable places to work."

"I think it's very true, and I think it's getting more serious all the time," said Irene B. Dandridge, president of the Baltimore Teachers Union, which represents more than 6,000 teachers in Baltimore.

One reason is that Baltimore pays its teachers less on average than the surrounding suburban jurisdictions, she said.

But there is also a perception "that if they teach in the counties, things will be a lot easier in terms of having supplies, having support and discipline of the students."

The chronic shortage has forced the city to fill about 120 teaching slots with people who have degrees in subjects other than education.

But C. Edwin Brewin, a consultant to the city on teacher recruitment and retention, said that the city's shortage of math and science teachers mirrors a national problem.

He said that the best math and science students tend to bypass teaching for engineering, biology, chemistry and other fields that will earn them a slot in private industry.

Yesterday's report is the eighth such survey presented to the state board and is used to administer a state scholarship program intended to help relieve teacher shortages.

Its conclusions are drawn from actual teacher supply figures in the 1991-1992 school year and from supply projections based on hiring data from the past five years.

The report notes that the overall pool of new teachers increased by 4 percent from the 1990-1991 school year and is up about 8 percent from the 1989-1990 school year.

But it paints a darker picture for certain subjects.

This year, for example, the report projects a shortage of 101 special education teachers statewide, a short fall of 23 percent.

The report also projects that 51 science teaching spots will go unfilled, as will 44 foreign language positions and 24 mathematics jobs.

The report also found that Maryland's teacher education programs grew in the 1991-1992 school year, graduating a total of 2,059 new teachers, more than double the number of graduates in 1984.

It also found that 19 percent of the new teachers hired in 1991 were minorities, up from 18 percent in 1990 and 14 percent in 1989.

But the proportion of minority teachers still falls well short of the 39 percent minority population in the state's public schools.

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