Taking action on a persistent issue, first ever “Nebraska Teacher Shortage Summit” set for October 27th

By Tyler Dahlgren

There’s a teacher shortage, in all regions of Nebraska and across the country, and those in the education community unanimously agree that the time has come for actual solutions to lingering conversation.

It’s high time to take action, and at the inaugural Nebraska Teacher Shortage Summit, educators across the state will have the opportunity to do just that. The one-day event is being sponsored by the Nebraska Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (NACTE) and is slated for October 27 at the Holiday Inn in Kearney.

There isn’t a magic bullet or a quick fix to the shortage in Nebraska’s teacher pipeline, but there is much that can be gained by assembling professionals from each level of education under one roof.

“We’re going to discover what those steps are as a collective group,” said Dr. Sara Skretta, UNL’s Certification Officer. “The plan is for attendees to walk out of the summit with either an individual action plan crafted for their schools and their geographic location or connections that allow them to establish some partnerships and coordination with other districts they can beg, borrow and steal ideas from, because that’s how education works.

NACTE received a grant from the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE), their national chapter, which made the event possible. Corporate sponsorships have been helpful too. The association felt uniquely positioned to take initiative given its close work with NDE, K-12 school districts, NCSA and other organizations in the education realm.

“We’re not trying to put together some kind of state teacher shortage plan, but we do think it’s important for everybody to come together to have those conversations and move beyond the talking,” Skretta said. “Everybody’s talked this to death. We know it’s a bad situation, so what are we going to do about it? Finding answers to that question is our top priority.”

Keynote speaker Kelly Coash-Johnson, Executive Director of the American Association of School Personnel Administrators, will set the table for the day by sharing a national perspective of the teacher shortage. From there, attendees will dig into Nebraska’s data.

“It’s going to be a very participatory day, because it has to be,” said Skretta, who reiterated the importance of taking a proactive approach. “In education we are reactive quite a bit, just by the nature of the business. We already know that in the next five to seven years there’s going to be a dramatic decrease in enrollment in colleges across the country. If our teacher candidate enrollment is already low, it’s just going to get lower.”

Schools, however, still need teachers. The problem isn’t going away, so there’s no sense in ducking it.

“If we can be innovative and come up with solutions that are within our requirements, because we certainly do not want to compromise quality or preparation, then we have to,” Skretta continued.

Above all, NACTE hopes the summit will start conversations and serve as a place where different groups can pool different perspectives. The teacher shortage isn’t determined geographically. Its range is widespread.

“You might think someone in Gordon is having more trouble than someone in Bellevue, but that’s not necessarily true,” Skretta said. “Obviously, larger and smaller districts, urban and more rural districts, have different challenges, but that’s what would make attending the summit valuable for every building administrator, every educator. Establishing partnerships with people you may not have been aware of. That’s the beauty of it. The value is twofold.”

Dr. Skretta knows that a one-day conversation isn’t going to solve the issue entirely, but bringing Nebraska’s education community together with one goal, a shared purpose, is a heck of a start.

“We really feel strongly that in Nebraska we can no longer just sit around and talk about it.”

*Registration deadline for the NEBRASKA TEACHER SHORTAGE SUMMIT is October 20th. Use the QR code below to register.

 
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