Report projects shortage of teachers in 9 areas in Md. public schools

September 24, 1997|By Mary Maushard | Mary Maushard,SUN STAFF

Maryland's public schools face critical teacher shortages in art, music, science, math and special education between now and the end of the century.

And while the demand for teachers continues to rise, the number of college students in Maryland heading for teaching careers is falling, according to the annual staffing report presented to the Maryland State Board of Education yesterday.

Maryland school systems hired 27 percent more teachers -- about 965 statewide -- for the 1996-1997 school year than for 1995-1996.

But the 22 colleges and universities in the state reported a 5

percent decrease in teacher education students last year and projected a further drop in 1998.

That gap between teacher supply and demand led board members to talk about incentives to encourage young people to become teachers, and even to enter specific "critical" areas.

"Do we do anything with the state schools?" asked board Vice President Edward Andrews, recalling his college education, which was free because he agreed to teach two years in Maryland.

"Can we incite kids to do more with math? I think that's going to be a real problem four to five years from now."

Board members agreed to discuss potential incentives at a retreat today, and state Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick suggested that schools could more actively encourage middle- and high-school students to consider teaching careers.

The board did classify nine subject areas as having "critical shortages," making teacher candidates in those areas eligible for federal scholarships and deferment of student loans.

The areas are: art, computer science, music, mathematics, general science, physical science, English as a second language and two special education categories: "grade six to adult" and "severely and profoundly handicapped."

Art and music are new to the critical list.

Although math teachers were not in short supply last year, math is on the list because of anticipated shortages from a severe drop in the number of new mathematics teachers, the report said.

Teachers for science, special education, computer science and ESOL -- English for Speakers of Other Languages -- have been in short supply for several years, according to the Maryland Teacher Staffing Report, 1997-1999.

Teacher surpluses exist in elementary education, English and social studies -- and in early childhood education, where Maryland will have about twice as many new teachers as it will need in the next two years.

"We have a nice surplus of early childhood and elementary education people," said board member Morris Jones.

"We ought to be encouraging them into other areas."

Grasmick said she tries to steer students into special education -- her area of expertise -- because those "are mandated programs and we have to have certified people. It's a really serious problem."

Staffing projection


Projections for 1998-1999:

Subject .. .. .. Project. .. Project. .. Diff.

.. .. . .. .. .. staffing .. new

.. .. . .. .. .. pool .. ... hires

Art . . .. .. .. ... 150 ... .. 234 . .. --84

Computer sci. .. .. .. 5 ... ... 19 . .. --14

Foreign lang. .. ... 189 ... .. 210 . .. --21

Music . .. .. .. ... 193 ... .. 248 . .. --55

Science .. .. .. ... 343 ... .. 393 . .. --50

Special ed. . .. ... 711 ... .. 903 . .. --192

SOURCE: Maryland Teacher Staffing Report, 1997-1999

Pub Date: 9/24/97

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