Minnesota teacher shortage is getting worse, new report shows

The struggle to retain teachers and recruit new educators to the profession continues to worsen in Minnesota. 

That's according to the Teacher Supply and Demand Report, which is published every two years by the Minnesota Professional Educator Licensing and Standards Board. This year's report was released on Jan. 20, and details the employment outlook for licensed teachers and other data about the profession using data during the 2021-2022 school year. 

A majority of school districts in Minnesota (84%) are reporting being "somewhat significantly" or "very significantly" impacted by the teacher shortage, while 89% of school districts say they're "somewhat significantly" or "very significantly" impacted by the substitute teacher shortage, the report said. 

Meanwhile, more than a quarter — just over 38% of licensed teachers with a professional (Tier 3 and Tier 4) license — are not teaching in a public school or charter school classroom, the report says. And teachers who are new to the profession aren't lasting long. The report says nearly one-third of new teachers leave teaching within the first five years in the profession. 

"This report is another sign of the worsening conditions for the state’s licensed teachers, but we’re hearing about the same shortages for education support professionals and other school employees," Denise Specht, president of Education Minnesota, the state's largest teacher's union, said in a statement this week. "The shortage of school staff, including educators of color and on mental health teams, is becoming the most serious challenge in public education right now." 

Education Minnesota says the state's teacher shortage has expanded to nearly nine of 10 schools in the state, with Specht saying there aren't enough Minnesotans who are willing to teach for what the job pays and the pensions the state offers. 

"If Minnesota’s elected leaders want to provide a world-class education to Minnesota’s students, those leaders need to improve the compensation and working conditions of the state’s teachers before we lose even more of them to burnout," Specht said. 

The report says the data show the "great discrepancy" in the state's teacher workforce, noting there is a "significantly lower" percentage of teachers of color and Indigenous teachers than students of color and Indigenous students, with 6.24% of teachers being teachers of color of Indigenous teachers, while 40% of students are. 

That being said, those completing teacher preparation in Minnesota are more diverse than the state's existing teachers — 11.14% of teacher candidates who completed teacher preparation in Minnesota are BIPOC and 17.14% of all enrolled teacher candidates are BIPOC.