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Teacher Shortage: A Pandemic-Driven Need for Educators

Earning a Master of Arts in Education can help you become a classroom leader in today’s learning landscape.

Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, the United States was experiencing a teacher shortage. During the 2017–2018 academic year, there was an estimated shortfall of 110,000 K–12 educators.1 Now, the coronavirus disease outbreak is intensifying the situation, putting more holes into what the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) calls the “leaky bucket of teacher attrition.”2

“Longstanding shortages, which are often most acute in high-need fields and high-need schools, appear to be growing more severe due to a range of pandemic-related factors, including rising early retirements and resignations and a reduced pipeline of incoming teachers,” the LPI wrote in a press release.3

Assessing the Challenges

In “California Teachers and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Is Impacting the Teacher Workforce,” released in March 2021, LPI researchers reported these findings:3

  1. Teacher shortages remain a critical problem.
  2. Teacher pipeline problems are exacerbated by state testing policies for teacher licensure and inadequate financial aid for completing preparation.
  3. Teacher workload and burnout are major concerns.
  4. Growing retirements and resignations further reduce supply.
  5. Teacher residencies and preparation partnerships have proved important to recruitment.

And while the research was limited to California, the report’s authors say these are issues that will resonate with educators coast-to-coast.

Addressing the Shortage

The Economic Policy Institute (EPI), another organization working to address the teacher shortage, says because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the “call for action has become even more urgent.” In the final report in EPI’s “Perfect Storm in the Teacher Labor Market” series, economist Emma García and research associate Elaine Weiss offer the following proposals:4

  • Raising teacher pay to retain current teachers and attract new teachers
  • Elevating teacher voice and nurturing stronger learning communities
  • Lowering the barriers to teaching that make it harder for teachers to do their jobs
  • Designing professional supports that strengthen teachers’ sense of purpose, career development, and effectiveness

Meeting the Need With a Teaching Degree

“Teacher shortages were not created overnight, nor will they be solved with quick, Band-Aid solutions,” LPI’s Desiree Carver-Thomas, a co-author of “California Teachers and COVID-19: How the Pandemic Is Impacting the Teacher Workforce,” said in the press release. “Policymakers should attend to both long-term solutions for growing a high-qualified teacher workforce and to meeting the immediate needs of a state school system reeling from a year of instability and strife.”3

You can help meet the need for qualified teachers by earning a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) with a specialization in Elementary Education online from Walden University, a leader in distance education for more than 50 years. Walden’s online master’s in education can help you expand and update your elementary school teaching skills and prepare you for licensure.

In this graduate program for teachers, you’ll learn in an immersive environment enriched with interactive media and virtual simulations. The curriculum in your online MAT degree program may include courses like Child Development, Motivation, and Learning; and Diverse and Exceptional Learners in the Elementary Classroom. Walden’s online MAT Elementary Education specialization is designed to provide best-practice teaching strategies for engaging all the children you’ll teach.

And if you’re not yet a teacher but aspire to become one, there’s Walden’s BS in Elementary Education (Teacher Licensure) online degree program. Experienced faculty members, virtual field experiences, interactive simulations, and comprehensive student support services are some of this elementary education degree program’s highlights.

Earning an elementary education degree online is often the perfect choice for professionals who want to go back to school while still being able to work and enjoy a rich personal life. Through its more than 25 years of experience developing online teaching degree programs, Walden has created an online learning platform that lets you decide when and where you’ll engage in coursework. All you’ll need is an internet connection and your laptop.

If elementary school teaching is your passion, earning an online MAT degree or BS in Elementary Education can help prepare you to meet the need for educators working to give today’s children bright tomorrows.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering a Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) online degree program with a specialization in Elementary Education. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission,