Utah Governor Gary Herbert is asking teachers who have left the profession to consider returning to the classroom as schools are struggling with a shortage of educators. Speaking at the state capitol Wednesday, Herbert said the state needs to do a better job of “recruiting and retaining.”
As part of his remarks, Governor Herbert cited statistics gathered by the Utah Education Policy Center. In particular, 47 percent of new Utah teachers will leave the profession in 5 years. That number rises to 56 percent at the seven-year mark.
With low numbers in university teacher training programs, Herbert asked young people to consider the profession. But he also stressed teaching as an option for people mid-career.
“Maybe it’s a change of career,” Herbert said. “Maybe it’s veteran teachers who have left and now they’ve got more time on their hands and can come back. And have an opportunity to get back into the classroom.”
Herbert was referring to people who have been trained for the classroom but have left for a variety of reasons, such as taking time off to raise children or seeking out a new career challenge.
State superintendent Sydnee Dickson said the state is learning to be more flexible with a younger generation of teachers.
“[Baby boomers] went into a career and stayed with a career,” Dickson said. “But when we look at our young people, the millennial generation and those to follow, they think about careers very differently.”
Dickson said that just because a younger teacher leaves the profession doesn’t mean they have written if off for good. And despite some misconceptions, Dickson said the process of coming back can be relatively quick and painless.
As a way to stoke interest, the state in collaboration with Envision Utah has created a website called returntoteaching.org — a questionnaire aimed at former teachers who might be considering or are interested in returning to the job.