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Bilingual education professor Theresa Montaño told the National Education Association that her classes were packed 10 years ago. Today, she has a tough time enrolling enough students to fill a room.

Montaño’s observation isn’t unique. A new survey says the number of college freshmen planning to major in education has fallen to a 45-year low, raising fresh concerns about the future of the teaching profession, NEAToday.org reports.

UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program conducted the survey. In 2015, just 4.2 percent of the first-year students intended to pursue a career in education. Just five years earlier, nearly 10 percent wanted an education degree; it was almost 11 percent in 1971.

As fewer educators enter the career, there’s also significant turnover in the field. The Washington Post reports that disillusionment among public school teachers has skyrocketed. Job satisfaction sharply declined from 62 percent in 2008 to 39 percent five years later—the lowest point in a quarter century. More than half say they’re stressed out at work.

On her blog, Lily’s Blackboard, NEA President Lily Eskelsen García expresses concern about how the retirement of baby boomer generation teachers and the dwindling numbers to replace them will impact the profession and students.

This situation will likely further reduce the number of minority teachers, already below 20 percent, at a time when minority students outnumber White students in public schools, she says.

“There’s no question that something must change—and quickly,” Eskelsen García writes.

What are the solutions? She calls for increased teacher salaries and making college more affordable.

Treating teachers with respect is another part of the solution, education and sociology professor Richard Ingersoll told NeaToday.org.

He added:

“The data consistently show us that a big issue is how much voice, how much say, do teachers have collectively in the school-wide decisions that affect their jobs? Are teachers treated as professionals? That’s a huge issue.”

The University of Pennsylvania professor said figuring out a strategy to reduce turnover is the key to maintaining a good supply of quality educators in the system.



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