A surplus of teachers in the state is coming at a time when fewer college graduates are choosing careers in teaching. Susan Kalsow, the Dean of the School of Education at Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, says she’s steering her education majors toward endorsements in fields where Iowa still has teacher shortages.
“School districts will tell us they have hundreds of applications for an elementary opening and yet they have a need for special education or secondary math, secondary science, ESL, anything that has something to do with students with special needs,” Kalsow said.
Many school districts are not replacing retiring teachers, thus reducing the number of instructors needed. Kalsow is pushing her students toward endorsements in specialty areas, even if it means changing their career ambitions after they enter college.
“They’re frustrated if it leads to extra time because it’s expensive to stay in school longer, get those endorsements, get that extra support. If they start out with us and know where they’re going, it can happen in four years,” Kalsow said. “If they change midstream, they’ll probably have a better chance at a job, but it’s going to cost them more to get the degree.”
She says her approach seems to be working because around 90% of the education graduates from Buena Vista eventually find teaching jobs. Almost every current listing on the job-hunting web site Teach Iowa is for a special education or pre-school teacher.