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Teacher Shortage - Narrative Intelligence

August 15, 2022Evan Robert
Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

American educators are quitting on a massive scale, leaving school districts and administrations scrambling to hire new teachers and retain the ones they desperately need. Teachers cite low wages and pandemic burnout as their main reasons for leaving. With the new school year arriving, U.S. media is reacting to the teacher shortage and what it may mean for the future of education in America.

This EdgeTheory narrative intelligence brief analyzes U.S. media's coverage of the teacher shortage– who's talking about it most, what trends are driving the overall narrative, and which political party or state is amplifying the most stories related to this topic.

The teacher shortage narrative is massive. In the past 30 days, 307 individual sources in U.S. media have shared over 1,000 unique narratives.

Local media in Florida, Texas, and North Carolina are the top three amplifiers of the teacher shortage by state (103, 91, and 56 amplifications, respectively). Outlets in Florida are reporting over 8,000 unfilled teaching positions across the state.

Top article amplifications by state

Filtering by political bias, left-leaning media (416 amplifications) seems to be fastening on to the shortage much more than right-leaning media (173 amplifications).

Class sizes was a common keyword found among U.S. media's coverage; local outlets from Tulsa to Kenosha share this trend. With staffing shortages, schools– particularly public– are having to increase class sizes to compensate. An increased class size could be disastrous both for students' academic development and the teachers responsible for that development.

Online learning, another trend associated with the shortage, has only exacerbated the problem. Almost two years of Covid-induced remote learning has caused a generation of students to struggle in keeping pace academically. Students who are already lagging stand to fall even further behind with teachers becoming more scarce countrywide. "Learning loss" was another keyword used by 65 sources in U.S. media, and sums up well the grim position of American public education.

Top keywords by number of sources

Trends around math, science, and test scores further fill out the narrative: last year, American students' STEM test scores dropped to historical lows.

The bus driver shortage is small but not insignificant trend that coincides with the teacher shortage. The Department of Education has even acknowledged the lack of transportation available to school children with many bus drivers vacating their positions.

Nationwide, school districts are struggling to transport students to the classroom, much less provide educators for them when they arrive. This narrative is far from finished, and as the school year unfolds, this narrative brief will automatically update as U.S. media continues to report on the state of American education:

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