Opinion
Teaching Profession Opinion

Does the law of supply and demand apply to teachers?

By AAEE — June 19, 2009 1 min read

Does the law of supply and demand apply to teachers? The reason I ask this question is because we have a shortage of math, science, and special education teachers. Will schools eventually join the free enterprise system and reward teachers in these high demand areas with commensurate salaries from the non-teaching world? Recently I have seen signing bonuses for student teachers graduating in these fields. Will these bonuses continue for the career of the teacher?

The reason I mention this is twofold. First, I was visiting with an excellent junior high school science teacher who had been the teacher for my children when they were in school. He was taking classes to become a school administrator to increase his salary and unfortunately leave his position as a science teacher. He commented that if he were in industry he could make three times his teaching salary. Second, I worked at a university where the salaries of the engineering, math and science departments were forced to adapt to the real world. Too many of the faculty from these disciplines left on sabbatical to work with industry and were offered two to three times their salary. When they did not return the university took notice and was forced to accept the market value of their faculty.

Is this the reality for our school system? Is this the answer to our teacher shortage in these areas?

Bob Maxfield
Director
BYU-Idaho Teacher Career Services

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