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ND still reports teacher shortages, but not necessarily COVID related

Sharon Teeples

A recent national report showed 49 of the 50 states are reporting teacher shortages.

North Dakota is no exception.

"North Dakota has been experiencing teacher shortages for a number of years," said state school superintendent Kirsten Baesler.

Baesler said there are shortages in virtually every area of teaching.

"Used to be that there were a lot of teachers to fill elementary school jobs," Baesler said. "But elementary is a shortage area right now."

Baesler said critical shortage areas are math, science, family and consumer science, and agriculture.

There was concern nationwide that some teachers would leave the profession following the challenges of the 2020-2021 school year, brought on by COVID-19.

"We actually found on a national level, that wasn't the case," Baesler said. "There wasn't a significant increase in retirements or teachers leaving the profession."

Baesler said that speaks a lot about the dedication educators have to their vocation of teaching young people.

As to attracting and retaining teachers, Baesler said there's no "silver bullet." But she said one component is to elevate the image and prestige of teaching.

"It is critically important that we support our teachers, and our communities show them they are valued and honored," Baesler said. "They are held in high regard because of the wonderful work they do."

And Baesler said while pay isn’t everything, pay matters.

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