Issue Background

Teacher recruitment and retention

Recruiting and retaining a diverse, high-quality teaching corps -- the right way

Minnesota is facing a shortage of qualified educators for its public schools that will only get worse if the Legislature fails to respond with policies that attract and retain more teachers, particularly teachers of color.

The evidence of the shortage is indisputable. Rural districts can’t find enough teachers of all kinds. Substitute teachers are in short supply everywhere. Even metro districts report difficulty hiring teachers for students with special needs or to teach math and science classes. There are far too few teachers of color for Minnesota’s rapidly diversifying student population.

Districts are reacting by receiving state waivers for teachers to work outside their licensure area or for hiring unqualified “community experts” to lead classes. Both responses are unacceptable in a state that prides itself on the quality of its public schools.

The shortage has two causes. Too many teachers are leaving the profession before retirement age and too few young people are going into teaching in the first place. 

The “2017 Report of Teacher Supply and Demand in Minnesota’s Public Schools” was released Feb. 1 by the Minnesota Department of Education. The report shows several trends which threaten the quality of education in Minnesota’s public schools.

  • The number of teachers reported as leaving their positions has increased 46 percent since 2008-09. Resignations for personal or unspecified reasons are by far the most common
  • reason teachers leave their jobs, surpassing retirements, promotions, transfers to other schools, layoffs or terminations for performance.
  • A competitive job market and low salaries for teachers are considered the two biggest barriers to retaining teachers, according to school hiring officials.
  • Hiring officials report the limited number of applicants for job openings is a larger barrier to hiring qualified teachers than licensure standards.
  • Schools are finding it more difficult to hire short-term and long-term substitutes than reported in recent years.
  • The most difficult to hire positions continue to be in special education, math, science and rural schools.
  • The number of non-licensed “community experts” working in Minnesota schools has more than doubled from 367 in the 2011-12 school year to 861 in the 2015-16 school year. Schools may hire “community experts,” who are not legally required to have a college degree, when an appropriately licensed teacher is not available.

Education Minnesota supports a package of policies to address both retention and recruitment.

• Create programs to promote the teaching profession to high school students, with an emphasis on reaching students of color.
• Design and foster grow-your-own programs aimed at candidates of color who already work in education.
• Provide resources so school districts and teacher training institutes can create new programs to recruit a racially diverse workforce of future educators.
• Give student teachers a stipend.
• Provide additional financial support to attract highly qualified teachers, including higher starting salaries and effective loan forgiveness programs. Additional incentives should be considered, including housing assistance for recruiting teachers in rural schools and high needs schools.

• Increase support for teacher autonomy so teachers are empowered to meet the changing needs of their students.
• Provide additional financial benefits to all current educators with additional incentives for educators of color.
• Invest in quality professional development for all educators. Provide additional resources to allow educators of color to seek professional development for their unique needs.
• Decrease the paperwork and unnecessary stress on educators who work with students with special needs.
• Give more attention to the mental health and well-being of all educators.



For more information, contact:

Megan Boldt — 651-292-4818, megan.boldt@edmn.org
Jodee Buhr — 651-292-4830, jodee.buhr@edmn.org
Kathi Micheletti — 651-292-4890, kathi.micheletti@edmn.org
Paul Winkelaar — 651-292-4837, paul.winkelaar@edmn.org

Contact your lawmakers: