NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Teacher shortages and education continues to be a hot topic in the state of Tennessee.
“It has been a little more challenging than we’d have liked for it to have been,” Metro Nashville Public Schools Director of Talent, Amber Tyus, said.
The school shortage in Tennessee doesn’t just end with teachers. “It’s not unique to just the educational industry, this is not germane [sic] to us, this is across all industries,” Tyus said.
But across the state, education roles beyond just teaching, including support staff, are vacant in extreme amounts.
Combine the teaching positions with the support positions in Davidson County and there are over 1,000 open in the county alone, according to the district’s website.
“Students feel this as well,” Tennessee Education Association (TEA) president, Tanya Coats, said. “When it’s the first day of school and you don’t have a classroom teacher, you feel a sense of not belonging.”
MNPS said you should take those numbers with a grain of salt—at least on its website, those numbers should go down.
“When someone applies, they apply online, and that job stays on our website until that person completes the onboard process or the hiring process from the time they applied all the way to the point they are hired,” Tyus said.
Tyus added there are about 140 teaching spots open, meaning about 300 applicants are in the process of getting hired. But as of right now, those going through that process aren’t in the schools yet, and the first day of school was August 8.
TEA says it’s been a continuous cycle for years—statewide low pay, exhaustion, and expensive benefits force educators to leave, which in turn forces current educators to take on more responsibilities. That, sequentially, leads to more burnout.
“This could actually be alleviated if districts were actually getting the funding that they need,” Coats said.
Tennessee average teacher salaries did go up nearly 2% from last year, but with an inflation rate of around 9%, it’s essentially been wiped out.
The average teacher salary in Tennessee is about $53,000. Nationally, it’s about $65,000.