1800 jobs unfilled in Vermont schools; home-schooling at all-time high

14 days ago, Vermont schools only had a shortage of about 450 substitute teachers. Now, that number is closer to 500. Graphic credit 802 Ed Newsletter.

by Guy Page

Teacher recruitment has become an additional challenge during the pandemic, with several hundred openings state-wide across many subject areas and grade levels, according to the 802 Ed Newsletter, a publication of Vermont’s associations for principals, superintendents, and school board members, as well as state and national education agencies.

The reasons for teacher shortages are many and complicated, according to studies linked in the 802 Ed newsletter. Two facts, however, do stand out out: the national shortages are worst in difficult-to-find subject areas such as math and special education, and Vermont does not pay more to teachers in shortage areas.

The statewide need for substitute coverage seems to be increasing, in some cases with school leaders filling in where needed, such as lunch duty, hallway supervision, and even making sure that the lawn is mowed. Other states are seeing similar challenges, 802 Ed said. 

In Vermont the number of job openings for substitute teachers, paraprofessionals, nurses, and other staff has topped the 500 mark. In fact, the current rate is showing an increase of about 6 job openings per day over the past two weeks, which suggests that the market for substitutes is getting even more difficult for schools. The law of supply and demand seems to be kicking in –  Spaulding High School in Barre is offering $25/hour for licensed substitutes, more than twice the minimum wage.

With some 1800 open positions in Vermont’s schools, there are sometimes unusual opportunities. For example, the Vermont School Boards Association recently posted a position opening for Director of Education Services, to design and deliver workshops throughout the year for school board members across the state, 802 Ed said. 

The school worker shortage is taking place even as an unprecedented number of parents take their children out of the public schools and opt for home-schooling instead. 

Except for last year, when most of the school buildings were closed, home-schooling is at an all-time high. As of 10/21/2021 there are 3643 home school enrollments received, Agency of Education Secretary Dan French told Vermont Daily Chronicle last week. As of 10/21/2020 there were 4972 enrollments received with a 2020-2021 School Year total 5504. In previous years, home-schooling enrollment fluctuated around 2000.

Public school enrollment figures will not be available until some time this winter.

This news story includes content published in the 802 Ed Newsletter.

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Categories: Education

6 replies »

  1. Homeschooling is double that of average years yet the Dipsheets of Education cant see why. Keep it up and maybe we can completely get rid of the indoctrination centers.

  2. This story and many others suggest that our public school system is in crisis. Reform strategies abound. Excuse my jaded outlook (life time NEA member here with 45 years in public and private schools) but these reforms seem to reduce to an elaborate excuse network. “…we’ll finally get this right, just be patient. We can give you something closer to what you want…or, finally re-convince you that, deep down, you really want what we’ve got — you don’t want any of that other [insert pejorative adjective woke cognoscenti use] stuff anyway’ ” [Obi-Wan with a subtle hand wave in the background.] Is the discontent such that we are ripe for some transformative evolution here? Maybe it’s not HOME SCHOOLING but rather FAMILY DIRECTED EDUCATION. Teachers have skills—families could be customers [if their resources were returned]. Maybe teachers and families could emancipate themselves. Maybe they could directly connect with each other as families re-possess the education of their kids. Teachers would step up with whatever families wanted. The courses, lessons, unique experiences would be unlimited. The obstructions in the middle would be gone. Families’ needs would drive it. “Schools” would become consulting organizations to help you connect with teachers offering the goods you might like and rent out classroom space if those teachers need it. Could radicalized unions cease their war on the public and return to their roots as professional guilds, similar to other professions? Such a schooling market place suggested here would need a “reviews of service “ data base for families to reference. So here we go Vermont families and educators. Do you want to start the transformation here? Entrepreneurs’ take notice

    • I agree with most of your sentiment here.

      Unfortunately Vermont already has laws preventing that from happening… Sigh.

      • Yes Brian “…laws preventing…” here in schooling and across many other venues of our lives. Does it appear that our elected officials have a culture aimed at ruling us rather than representing us?.

  3. Let’s remember that this staffing shortage was not a pandemic-borne issue. This has been a festering issue for many years, only exacerbated by the pandemic, just like the UVMMC issues. Our public health and education services have been failing systemically and failing our citizens for a lot longer, and for reasons easily understood by those who aren’t afraid to accept who it is that these systems are designed to benefit, (hint, it isn’t you and me).

    The homeschooling boom however, was pandemic-borne as parents were forced to take stock of what was going on and evaluate what was best for their children and families, in a world that fundamentally changed as we knew it.