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Report: Moonlighting Teachers Connected to Shortage

On average, school districts spend $21,000 to recruit and train a new teacher, but four years after graduation, only 10 percent who enter the profession are still in the classroom. (Woodleywonderworks/Flickr)
On average, school districts spend $21,000 to recruit and train a new teacher, but four years after graduation, only 10 percent who enter the profession are still in the classroom. (Woodleywonderworks/Flickr)
May 10, 2019

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – A new report puts a spotlight on the economic stress facing people who choose a career in teaching.

Emma Garcia, the report's co-author and economist with the Economic Policy Institute, says 59% of teachers nationwide turn to "moonlighting" or side jobs to supplement their income and in some cases, just to make ends meet.

She adds there's a direct connection between the current teacher shortage and poor teacher pay, which forces a majority to take on second and even third jobs.

"When pay is low, the chances that a new person is going to be willing to enter teaching diminish,” says Garcia. “We also find in this report that teachers who quit had lower salaries the year before quitting than teachers who stayed."

School districts spend $21,000 on average for each new teacher they recruit and train – money Garcia says could be spent on other priorities, including raising teacher pay.

According to the University of Wyoming, enrollment in teacher education programs fell by 25% between 2009 and 2014. Teacher salaries have remained stagnant in the Cowboy State, and four years after graduation, only 10% of people entering the profession were still in the classroom.

Garcia emphasizes that the side jobs featured in the report are not extra summer or holiday jobs, but work that happens in addition to a teacher's regular schedule.

She says increasing their pay is important, but it isn't the only issue.

"We also have to fix the working environment for teachers,” adds Garcia. “We have to increase funding for schools in the state of Wyoming, and we also have to provide support for young teachers who are starting their careers."

Garcia notes parents and entire communities are affected when teachers, and school systems, don't get the support they need. She says teachers play a critical role in society, in part because teaching is the single occupation upon which all other occupations are built.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY