Posted in Mission, Thoughts About Children

Mark Lane: Teacher shortage isn’t real? So why does math class have a sub?


When government faces a problem, the response often goes through three stages before its tackled.

Step 1: Deny that the problem exists. It’s just a few noisy people lying to you for their selfish political interests.

Step 2: The problem exists but not to the extent or for the reasons critics claimed.

Step 3: The problem is real and we’ve been addressing it for some time despite the harping of critics…

Florida now has a teacher shortage problem. And unsurprisingly, the state of Florida is in Stage 1 with one foot in Stage 2.

A recently released Florida Education Association survey tallied 5,294 vacancies in Florida public schools. The survey noted that five years ago, the state had only 1,492 vacancies.

The Florida Department of Education disputed the number, talked about the “myth” of a teacher shortage, and blamed the teachers union for twisting number to create a fake problem. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Pay no attention to that substitute teacher wandering the halls trying to find the right classroom….

Help from abroad?Volusia school board considers hiring international teachers to address critical shortages

Another district could look overseas:Could international teachers address critical shortages? Flagler Schools is considering it

Yet this report of shortages jibes with other surveys. Like a report issued last summer by Brown University’s Annenberg Institute that found the teacher shortage to be more than a passing pandemic problem and that Florida had the worst shortage of any state.

Closer to home, this also jibes with measures local school boards are forced to take as they scramble to staff classrooms. The Volusia County School Board, for instance, discussed importing teachers from abroad to fill the staffing gaps. The school system started the school year with 272 instructional vacancies which it managed to whittle down to 141. And it has 239 support vacancies. And even the district’s recruitment and retention coordinator has left…

Flagler County, too, is looking at importing teachers from abroad to fill some of its vacancies.

All this probably jibes, too, with what you probably heard from any kids, parents and teachers you know.

Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced the state is tackling this situation — which is not really a problem — by allowing military veterans to teach without getting a college degree. As of the start of the year, a total of — wait for it — 10 had been hired statewide. 

So, yes, there really is a teacher shortage. Maybe not in every school, maybe not in every subject area, or in every grade, but enough that it’s clearly a problem. This is not fake news.

And as a believer in the wisdom of free markets, I generally regard teacher shortages as nature’s way of telling us that we aren’t paying teachers enough.

Or more accurately, that we aren’t rewarding teachers enough.


Retired elementary public school teacher; all thirty-eight years in Florida... Now spending my time advocating for our children, and their right to strong public school education...With an appreciation for the arts and the beauty in each day…

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