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South Bend schools face teacher shortage with 100 open positions

WSBT 22 photo

South Bend Schools are facing a teacher shortage. There are about 100 vacant positions throughout the district.

This isn't just a local issue, but something many districts are seeing nationally.

The President of the South Bend's Teachers’ Union, Jason Zook, says Indiana is one of the five worst states in the country for teacher retention.

He says teachers aren't getting the resources or respect they need and deserve.

"There seems to be a teacher shortage. And so the corporation is having trouble filling positions as are others. Mostly urban schools are having those difficulties due to dwindling resources, dwindling funding,” said Zook.

A representative for the district says 30 of the job openings could be filled at a board meeting. Another 35 candidates are in the midst of the hiring process.

However, that still leaves a few dozen desks without a teacher behind them.

"Indiana is one of the five worst states as far as teacher retention and getting new teachers to join. I've seen other information where universities are seeing drops in enrollment in new teachers joining the program,” Zook said.

He says part of the problem is funding. Schools don't get enough of it.

"That push to do more with less, funding has been cut at schools and things like that, teachers are digging into their own pockets, producing more of the materials that were provided,” Zook said.

Another issue -- the focus on standardized tests as an evaluation tool for teachers.

"You cannot control exactly how that child is going to perform on that test. There have been glitches of course that have happened that have affected things,” Zook said.

He says the nail in the coffin for youngest would-be teachers is the fact that they can only bargain for wages. Teachers used to be able to bargain for things like classroom sizes and conditions.

As much as these issues hurt teachers, Zook says they also hurt students. He says students in overcrowded classrooms aren't getting enough attention from overworked teachers.

He says instead of legislators, who've never worked in a classroom, teachers who understand student needs should be brought back to the bargaining table.

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