The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), in partnership with the organization TEACH, is excited to announce “The Future Depends on Teachers,” a new public service announcement (PSA) campaign that is part of a long-term multi-phase recruitment initiative to diversify the teaching profession and address our nation’s teacher shortage. The campaign, launching in time for Teacher Appreciation Week (May 3-7), celebrates the role that teachers play in shaping our future and invites individuals to explore the teaching profession at a time when educators are needed more than ever.
The pandemic hit our K-12 public school teachers hard. Despite the challenges that teaching during COVID-19 has thrust upon them, our educators are innovating and rising to meet this new reality head-on. Collectively, we have realized great teachers are integral to both our nation’s recovery and in developing the next generation of leaders who will shape our world.
“Teachers change lives,” Commissioner of Education Margie Vandeven said. “Because of that, educator recruitment and retention is one of the four priority areas on which DESE and the State Board of Education are focusing our attention. Research continues to show the number one school-level factor that impacts a student’s learning is the teacher. Therefore, our agency is committed to a detailed action plan to enhance recruitment and retention efforts in our state, and we’re thrilled to join this campaign as part of that work.”
It is imperative that we inspire the future generations to teach. In the 2019-20 school year, there were just over 6,200 open teaching positions in Missouri. Of those positions, 145 remained unfilled and another 308 positions were filled with inadequately qualified teachers. Educator preparation programs at institutions of higher education, with a decline of over 25 percent in teacher candidate enrollment over the past six years, are not producing enough new teachers to fill our classrooms. There is concern the pandemic will only exacerbate this issue, with the potential for larger numbers of teachers to retire early or leave the profession.
“We need to make sure we have enough teachers to meet the needs of our schools and students, and ensure the teacher workforce meets the needs of the diverse student population in our state,” said Darrion Cockrell, 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year. “Finding a way to also attract more males and people of color to the teaching profession will benefit our students and our field as whole.”
“The Future Depends on Teachers” PSA will air on TV and radio to inspire future teachers to explore the profession, celebrate the hard work of current teachers and elevate the teaching profession among the general public. The spots communicate teachers’ impact not only on students but also on our broader society. The spots end with a call for viewers to explore teaching and leave a proud legacy.
Viewers who visit Teach.org are automatically directed to a page about teaching in Missouri with links to DESE and information about certification, educator preparation programs and what it is like to teach in our state.
TEACH is a nonprofit founded by the U.S. Department of Education. Its mission is to elevate the image of the teaching profession, reduce the teacher shortage, especially in hard-to-staff subjects, and improve the quality and diversity of the new teacher supply. Teach.org is a one-stop shop of free, valuable tools and resources to help anyone who is considering becoming a teacher.