One industry that manages to strive amid the crisis of COVID-19 pandemic is the online platform technology. In education, the online learning business has grown exponentially and attracted attention from several politicians and entrepreneurs.
In the United States, an education business model called Elevate K-12 has seen a big spike in its revenue. One of its objectives is to address the problem of teacher shortage in low-income areas, which has been a great challenge to the American administrators across the country.
A survey of over 1,200 schools by Frontline Education, an educator recruitment organization, found up to 75% of schools in urban areas were facing the shortage, while the rate in rural and suburban areas was 65% and 60% respectively.
Steven Wrobleski, a superintendent of Lasalle Peru Township High School, said lately there had been so many fewer applicants to teaching positions in his school located south of Chicago, especially in physics and chemistry. As the new school term in August was approaching, the currently hired teacher would have to take on additional workload, while many of them are set to retire soon.
There are several factors causing the problem. For instance, the applicants might not be qualified enough, or there have been fewer graduates from teachers colleges. However, one main issue is that teachers receive less salary and benefits compared to other professions.
Due to rampant inequality among different states, many schools have been short of budget. While the federal government allocates 8% of the budget to subsidize each school across the country, schools would still have to find their own ways to raise more money. Therefore, there are great disparities in funding among them.
The Education Law Center suggested the government increase education funding especially for low-income districts to help elevate their academic achievement to the same level as districts with higher income. The bigger funding could mean the bigger salary budget for highly skilled teachers. Some schools in the state of Illinois could be able to hire more foreign teachers through the International Teacher Program to increase their students’ cultural knowledge.
Remote learning somehow helps ease the crisis of teacher shortage in rural areas. However, the pandemic restriction has discouraged people from becoming teachers, as no one prefers teaching through a monitor over being in a class face-to-face with students. Furthermore, the government has to spend more budget responding to the outbreaks rather than bridging the existing social gap. Schools in low-income areas therefore have been bearing even more severe impacts.
Although the technology has greatly advanced, online-based learning still cannot replace a normal, physical classroom, especially in terms of interactions between teachers and students.
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