Addressing Critical Teacher Shortages – Insights and Strategies with the Learning Policy Institute 

The Learning Policy Institute recently hosted a crucial briefing, “Tackling Critical Teacher Shortages: Insights on Federal Policies & Programs.” Featuring prominent voices such as Dr. Jacqueline Rodriguez, CEO of the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD), alongside other leaders in education and disability rights, the event shed light on the pressing issue of teacher shortages, particularly exacerbated by the challenges of the pandemic.


Teacher shortages have long been a concern, but the pandemic significantly worsened the situation. In the 2022-23 school year, all 50 states reported shortages in multiple areas, with special education, science, and math teachers in high demand. Shockingly, over 300,000 teaching positions remained vacant or were filled by underqualified teachers, affecting around one in ten teaching roles nationwide. These shortages disproportionately affect schools with higher populations of students of color and those from low-income backgrounds.


The consequences of these shortages are dire. Schools resort to measures like increasing class sizes, canceling courses, overburdening teachers with extra duties, and hiring substitutes or underqualified staff, all of which undermine student learning. At a time when communities are striving for learning recovery post-pandemic, these challenges hinder progress.


Federal policies offer promising solutions to strengthen teacher recruitment, preparation, retention, and diversity. However, the resources and strategies provided by the federal government remain underfunded and underutilized. During the briefing, speakers highlighted research on the state of the educator workforce, evidence-based approaches to address shortages, and the need for more robust federal strategies.


Key speakers at the event included Senator Tim Kaine, Ternesha Burroughs, Michael DiNapoli Jr., Susan Kemper Patrick, Dr. Jacqueline Rodriguez, Clifton Tanabe, and Reggie White. Their insights emphasized the urgency of addressing teacher shortages and the importance of federal intervention in ensuring every student has access to a well-prepared, diverse, and stable educator workforce.


The briefing underscored the need for collaborative efforts from policymakers, educators, and advocates to implement practical solutions and prioritize the recruitment and retention of qualified teachers. We can only overcome the challenges posed by teacher shortages and ensure equitable access to quality education for all students through concerted action.