NEA-NH reacts to committee recommendations outlined in new report

NH teacher shortage crisis emphasized by study committee; report identifies stress, student behavior, school culture, and low salaries as contributors.s

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CONCORD, NH – A legislative report was released Thursday that identifies contributing factors to New Hampshire’s teacher shortage and outlines findings to address the crisis. The publication comes after a bipartisan 2-1 vote in support of the report, with Representatives Rick Ladd (R)  and Mel Myler (D) voting in the affirmative and Senator Ruth Ward (R) voting in the negative.  The report is the culmination of two years of bipartisan work on the issue.  

Megan Tuttle, president of NEA-New Hampshire, provided this statement in response:

“Every day I hear from teachers across the state who are burnt out and feeling undervalued and underappreciated. It is encouraging to see lawmakers across the political spectrum agree that there is an educator shortage crisis in New Hampshire and that the state has a responsibility to help address it. 

NEA-New Hampshire agrees that New Hampshire communities and property taxpayers cannot shoulder the burden of addressing our state’s teacher shortage alone. We know educators are underpaid and we are encouraged by the recommendations released today to explore state options for building funding streams to help school districts ensure that we have competitive compensation packages that will help attract young professionals and retain high-quality,  experienced educators. 

While the final report recognizes important concerns raised by educators about the increased politicization of their jobs, we are disappointed that previously drafted language calling for lawmakers to address the vaguely written banned concepts law, which has had a chilling effect on honest and accurate classroom instruction, was ultimately abandoned. 

In moving forward with recommendations from this report, we urge the Legislature to focus on supporting the dedicated professionals who help our children learn.”

Background: 

  • The Committee to Study New Hampshire Teacher Shortages and Recruitment Incentives was established in 2022 with the adoption of SB 236.  
  • Members of the Committee include: Senator Ruth Ward (Chair); Senator Donovan  Fenton; Representative Rick Ladd; Representative Mel Myler; Representative Oliver  Ford; and Steve Appleby, Director of Educator Support & Higher Education (non-voting member).  

Key Findings of the Report:

  • The teacher shortage is real and is motivated by several factors. Top concerns are stress/burnout, student behavior and discipline, school culture, and low salaries. 
  • There are more credentialed endorsements in the New Hampshire Department of  Education Bureau of Credentialing Database than there are currently practicing/employed teachers, meaning that some individual teachers have more than one endorsement while others are not using theirs.
  • The decline of Educator Preparation Program students in higher education is a  national issue; the number of individuals graduating with a degree in teaching from the University System of NH has gone down.  
  • The lack of affordable housing is also impacting the ability of beginning teachers to take positions in New Hampshire.  
  • Key Recommendations of the Report:
  • Investing in proven recruitment and retention strategies at the state level should be pursued.  
  • Establishing a rural and underserved area educator incentive program for higher education and making an appropriation there for districts to experiment with recruitment strategies. (Of note, the Senate Education Committee recently voted  4-0 in support of SB 217, which would establish such a program) 
  • The pension system is a tool to combat teachers leaving the profession. The NH  Retirement System should review its benefits and consider making it more competitive with neighboring states.  

About NEA-New Hampshire 

NEA-New Hampshire is the largest union of public employees in the state. Founded in 1854, the New  Hampshire State Teachers Association became one of the “founding ten” state education associations that formed the National Education Association in 1857. Known today as NEA-NH, and comprised of more than 17,000 members, our mission to advocate for the children of New Hampshire and public school employees, and to promote lifelong learning, remains true after more than 165 years. Our members are public school employees in all stages of their careers, including classroom teachers and other certified professionals, staff and instructors at public higher education institutions, students preparing for a teaching career, education support personnel and those retired from the profession.

About this Author

NEA - NH

Founded in 1854, the New Hampshire State Teachers Association became one of the “founding ten” state education associations that formed the National Education Association in 1857. Known today as NEA-NH, and comprised of more than 17,000 members, our mission to advocate for the children of New Hampshire and public school employees and to promote lifelong learning remains true after more than 150 years. Our members are public school educators in all stages of their careers, including classroom teachers and other certified professionals, instructors at public higher education institutions, students preparing for a teaching career, education support personnel and those retired from the profession.