Georgia continues to battle teacher shortage - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Georgia continues to battle teacher shortage

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February 21, 2007

Albany--  Georgia continues to fight a battle against a teacher shortage. In 2004, the University System Board of Regents announced an aggressive initiative they hoped would double the number and diversity of teachers by 2010. Half way through the plan, there's still work to be done.

Graduate student Quintin Love comes from a family of teachers. He continued that tradition two years ago.

"I enjoy it," said Love. His reason was simple. "I wanted to be a positive role model for young black males," said Love.

He's now working towards a masters degree.  Still, with his students in mind. "I feel when I see them a couple of years from now in high school and they're able to remember my name and something I taught them verbatim, I will feel like I touched them and played a part in their life," said Love.

But not enough people have the same goals. In 2005, the University System of Georgia projected that the school system would need more than 14,000 new teachers by 2010. That was part of a 16 principle plan. There are still signs of struggle.

"The numbers indicate that this past year, there were 14,000 teachers coming the teaching field and out of the 14,000 only 5,000 were produced in the state of Georgia so we have a tremendous void," said Dr. Wilburn Campbell.

ASU College of Education Dean Dr. Wilburn Campbell just received more troubling news.

"A meeting that I attended today indicates that in five years, the need for teachers will be approximately 93,000 new teachers and if they projected that to ten years, the numbers would be 175 to 200,000 teachers and that is an astronomical number," said Campbell.

That's in Georgia alone. Albany State University's College of Education is helping by graduating about 100 future teachers and education professionals a year. They're also helping with the goal of doubling the number of minority teachers.

"Albany State University is number 23 in the nation for producing teachers of color," said Campbell. Other goals for the system include emphasis on quality, emphasis on recruiting science and mathematics teachers and reducing the attrition rate by one-third. 15 percent leave after their first year on the job.

"We need teachers that have a burning passion and a love for children," said Campbell. Love says he has that love and he'll be in the number that stays.

"I won't be going anywhere. I'll be teaching for many years to come," said Love. The system hopes to graduate thousands more who are just as ambitious.

A high number of upcoming retirements and an expected population boom in Georgia are the main reasons the shortage may only get worse.

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