Technology specialist Sara Boucher teaches about 1,000 students in classes as large as 45 at Steven G. Schorr Elementary School in Clark County, Nevada, making it hard to tailor instruction and impossible to learn everyone’s name.
She does her best, but the teacher shortage in the county, which includes Las Vegas, is about to get worse. Next school year, Clark County expects to have 2,600 teachers fewer than it needs. The shortage, the result of an awakening economy, attrition and growing population has created teeming schools, a heavy reliance on substitute teachers and oversubscribed special education programs.
“We’re at capacity,” said Erick Capetillo, a teacher and coach at Las Vegas High School. “We can’t accept someone who moves into the zone and needs our [special-needs] program.”
The teacher shortage in Clark County, the nation’s fifth-largest school district, comes as the hiring of teachers in the U.S. has been rebounding after several years of layoffs. There’s “no good national estimate” of a teacher shortage — or whether there is one, said Robert Floden, a professor at Michigan State University’s College of Education who leads its Institute for Research on Teaching and Learning.