An Opportunity in Teacher Shortages
The 2017 “Teacher Shortage Areas Nationwide Listing” has been released by the Department of Education. The news isn’t good. As a nation, we are experiencing a significant shortage of teachers in various subject areas and geographic locations. The news is good. With a teacher shortage comes opportunity.
For years we have heard there is a shortage of math and science teachers. For the 2016-2017 academic year, schools had difficulty filling openings for Math, Science, English, Speech & Theatre, and Social Sciences. Special Education and ESL/ELL continue to be shortage areas. But the really shocking news was that many parts of the nation have a shortage in Elementary Education.
Urban geographic areas have reported shortages of qualified teachers for years. Now shortages are appearing in rural areas as well. The State of Missouri reports shortages in the subject areas listed above as well as a shortage of teachers in over 90 of its 114 counties. Superintendents of rural schools recently reported that they are lucky if they have one qualified applicant per teaching position.
These shortages provide opportunity. In political science, the phrase “power vacuum” refers to a condition “when someone has lost control of something and no one has replaced them.” This phrase has been applied to loss of control by one government which is then replaced by another ideology. Opportunity comes to those who recognize an emptiness and has something to offer in filling the void. This national shortage of teachers creates a power vacuum.
Why should followers of Christ consider becoming teachers to fill this vacuum? Consider these reasons:
- Opportunity to be a witness in a lost world. Modeling Christ-like behavior within a classroom can be a strong witness to students who have never experienced selfless love, kindness, or forgiveness. While a teacher may not be able to teach Scripture in the public school, he or she can model and teach biblical principles of honesty, fairness, strong work ethic, forgiveness, compassion, and more.
- Opportunity to engage in spiritual battles. As a follower of Christ, a teacher has the power of the Holy Spirit as a partner in spiritual battle. Every day, Christian teachers pray over their classrooms and students’ desks before the day begins. Prayer journals record needs of each student and praises over progress. The more vessels of the Holy Spirit in a school, the more the light penetrates the darkness.
- Opportunity to become policy makers. Rather than abandon the public schools, Christ-followers should position themselves to become policy makers. Successful classroom teachers can become educational leaders who set policies for their buildings and districts, administrators, board members, state board of education members, federal lobbyists or employees of the national Department of Education. Experienced classroom teachers can become university teachers and mentor future teachers.
Influencers of a society or culture understand that the greatest impact comes with influencing children. Vladimir Lenin understood this opportunity and is credited with stating, “Give me just one generation of youth, and I’ll transform the whole world.”
Consider of all those children who have no one to influence them for Christ. Become a teacher.
Rose H. Henness is an Associate Professor at Calvary University. She teaches in the Education Department and the Ministry Studies Department. Her special interests are educational technological, education reform, pedagogy, andragogy, discipleship, and women’s studies.