ND teacher shortage persists

State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler said teacher shortages exist in 14 subjects in North Dakota, a finding that will make instructors in those subjects eligible for student loan relief and other benefits.

North Dakota Department of Public Instruction data documents shortages in the 14 subject areas, Baesler said. That makes those teachers eligible for debt forgiveness or deferrals under federal student loan programs, including Perkins and Stafford loans.

The shortage areas are economics and the free enterprise system; computer education; driver and traffic safety education; agriculture education; special education; family and consumer sciences; science; counselors; mathematics; English; music; physical education; social studies; and elementary teachers in grades kindergarten through 8.

Teacher shortages are determined each year using calculations required by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Baesler’s announcement dovetails with efforts by the NDDPI and other education agencies to encourage North Dakotans to enter the teaching profession. Last summer, Baesler assembled a task force on teacher recruitment and retention to craft potential solutions.

One option – student loan forgiveness for teachers – is being debated in the Legislature. As written, SB2037 and SB2243 offer as much as $6,000 and $25,000 in loan relief, respectively, to teachers. SB2243 offers larger benefits to new teachers who take jobs in rural, isolated school districts.

North Dakota’s Board of Higher Education has approved new master’s degree programs at Valley City State University, Mayville State University and Dickinson State University that are designed to help mid-career professionals in other fields acquire the credentials they need to begin classroom teaching.