High school teacher shortage forcing schools to go digital

Teacher shortages across the country are getting so dire that they’re forcing some school districts to live stream lessons, replacing educators in many classrooms.

According to The Wall Street Journal, tens of thousands of high school students nationwide are now getting lessons taught by a remote teacher to occupy many hard-to-fill positions in areas like science, math and special education.

All 50 states and Washington D.C. have reported teacher shortages over the last few years. The U.S. Department of Education said the number of people completing teacher programs has dropped from 217,506 in 2011 to 159,598 in 2016.

Colin Sharkey, executive vice president of the Association of American Educators, a California-based nonunion professional organization, told FOX Business that he isn’t surprised that more and more districts are leveraging online education tools.

“School leaders are forced to get creative about hiring decisions when their hands are tied when it comes to attracting talent and filling critical vacancies,” Sharkey said, adding that for some students and teachers, online education can actually be an effective method of instruction.

“There is certainly a role for screen-based teaching in traditional school environments, especially for a generation of students who will likely learn how to change a tire by watching a video on YouTube,” he added.

However, Sharkey warns that school leaders need to do their research before implementing it to fully understand “all of the tradeoffs,” adding that the method would only work if the remote teacher is fully supported in that role.

He noted that many of today’s educators are becoming increasingly frustrated over how little autonomy they enjoy in their own classroom to prepare the next generation and how political and ineffective their unions have become at ensuring student success.

“Even our members who report high levels of satisfaction with teaching and plan to stay through retirement understand why the allure of teaching is declining—and they want to reverse the trend,” Sharkey said. “If teaching can again be well-respected, student-oriented, and personally fulfilling, there will not be any shortages.”