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Baltimore City Schools CEO discusses teacher shortage during briefing at Johns Hopkins University

BALTIMORE– Educators from across the country gathered Thursday to discuss the national teacher shortage during a briefing at Johns Hopkins University.

“Today, as school districts and statewide systems across the country prepare for the fall, many are facing severe staffing shortages,” said Christopher Morphew, Dean of Johns Hopkins School of Education.

Morphew led the discussion on the teacher shortage.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 280,000 fewer public school teachers nationwide than before the pandemic. The Maryland State Board of Education said 5,516 teachers left in 2022.

Panelists discussed the reasons for the shortage and how to get more teachers back into classrooms.

Baltimore City Public Schools CEO Sonja Santelises was among the panelists who spoke about some of the causes of the shortage.

“It’s just that virtual learning, the pandemic, more racial unrest just exacerbated what we knew,” she said.

Santelises said the challenges presented over the past two years have made teaching even more difficult in addition to long-standing issues, such as teachers saying they don’t have enough time for work-life balance. personal and too much paperwork.

A National Education Association poll found the majority of teachers nationwide were leaving due to issues such as stagnant salaries, stressful working conditions and an increasingly politicized profession.

BCPS recently attempted to address some of these concerns.

“We had to do a quick pivot and include wellness days,” Santelises said. “We’ve made sure that this year we’ve built in more days for teachers to work on paperwork.”

She also said providing more resources for families so students can learn outside of class could help.

“Some of our investments in more technology have allowed more families to have access to these supports that match their students’ needs, without expecting everything that needs to happen during the school day” , said Santelises.

Baltimore City Public Schools told WJZ that the school system has started hiring earlier than ever and has filled about 500 spaces as of July 4.

But the district also had to fill newly created positions.

“We added approximately 600 new teacher and school positions through the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future (Kirwan Funds) and that increased the number of vacancies at the start of the year to approximately 1,300,” Sherry Christian said. , head of public relations and media for BCPS, wrote in an email to WJZ. “This is a historically high number due to Kirwan funds which allow principals to create vacancies for key positions. Without the additional positions, schools in the city would already have most of those 600 positions filled. ”

Christian said his district offers competitive salaries and benefits, expanded its recruiting efforts beyond the immediate local area, reached out to substitute teachers and retirees, and smoothed its hiring pipeline so candidates get hired quickly.

Earlier this week, BCPS released a statement saying some schools were reducing non-essential teaching positions so those staff members could help provide classroom coverage and added that staff with teaching certifications working in non-academic positions could be temporarily reassigned to schools.

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