School starts this week; many teacher openings still need to be filled

Monday, August 5, 2019
News 12 at 11

AUGUSTA, GA (WRDW/WAGT) -- With a new school year comes new schools and new teachers. News 12 found out not all teaching positions are filled.

In Richmond County school starts tomorrow, but there's still 10 teacher openings to fill. Columbia county schools need to hire two and Aiken County Schools need to fill 23 full-time teaching positions.

"We're just barely touching the need," Judi Wilson said.

The demand is high.

"Nationally we just have a critical teacher shortage."

Augusta University's Dean of Education Judi Wilson says it's worse than we think. According to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission 2019 report, there are 1,354 vacancies in the state of Georgia for early childhood education.

Wilson says, "the second highest need in the state of Georgia is special education."

At 626 vacancies. Schools are also struggling locally.

"I can't tell you how many superintendant and principals call me over the summer and they're still emailing and saying we have openings," Wilson said. "That didn't happen when I became a teacher. I had to go out and seek employment and beg people in Athens to give me an interview."

But now, schools are the ones begging for teachers.

"I want to be able to say we have a teacher to meet that need,"Wilson said. "But right now we just can't do that. We just don't have the student enrollment."

Wilson says only 24 students are enrolled in elementary education at AU.

"The benefits are great but the pay is not always as attractive to a college grad," Wilson said.

Wilson wants to change that by visiting high schools in the area and creating scholarships. But Wilson says it's not just about quantity, but also quality. Reports show, this year, there are hundreds of positions filled by teachers without certification in Georgia. 516 teachers in science, 1,117 in elementary, and 3,497 in special education.

"If we don't have a strong teacher in every classroom we lose the future of our society," Wilson said.

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