COLUMBUS, Ohio — Schools across the country are dealing with teacher shortages and Ohio is no different. A recent study by the Ohio Education Association suggests that low pay is one of the main reasons teachers are leaving the field.

What You Need To Know

  • In an effort to address the teacher shortage, the Ohio Education Association has created a set of recommendations

  • Ohio's minimum wage for teachers is $25,950

  • OEA is hoping to increase that number to $40,00-$50,000

OEA President Scott DiMauro is a social studies teacher in the Worthington City School District. For the past 30 years, he has dedicated his career to helping students develop the skills they need to succeed.

“I went in to education because I really wanted to make a difference in the lives of my students, to help them with the critical thinking and problem-solving skills to be good citizens,” said DiMauro.

Many other educators share that desire, but various barriers have prevented them from doing it. 

“We hear reports all across the state of critical shortages in substitute teachers and bus drivers, but also classroom teaching positions that are becoming harder and harder to fill,” he said. 

DiMauro said there are nearly 17,000 fewer people working in public education in Ohio now compared to before the pandemic. Low pay, working conditions and other economic factors are some of the contributing factors to the shortage, DiMauro said.

“In order to address this issue we know that we have to look both at how do we recruit more people to choose education as a career and get good, qualified committed people in every classroom across Ohio,” he said. 

And that’s why the OEA board has come up with recommendations for helping recruit and retain teachers. The first suggestion is to raise the minimum salary. 

Ohio’s current minimum salary for first-year teachers is $25,950, which federal data suggests is 14.4% less than non-teachers with similar levels of education and experience earn in Ohio.

“The first step is we need to raise that $25,000 minimum at least to $40,000 and we believe that $50,000 is really going to be much more appropriate in terms of addressing that educator pay gap,” DiMauro said. 

Data from the OEA shows that Indian Creek Locals Schools has the lowest minimum salary in the state at $30,000 and Lakota Locals Schools has the highest with $50,000. 

Some other recommendations include extending Public Service Loan Forgiveness deadlines, improving working conditions and removing financial barriers for completing pre-service requirements for licensure. 

“There are some other states that are experimenting successfully with paying student teachers, waiving test fee requirements,” he said. “Things like that make sure that we’re attracting a diverse range of people in the profession, that family income is not a barrier.”

The OEA has reached out to the general assembly and the Ohio Department of Education to share its recommendations. It's also working on pilot mentorship programs to help develop aspiring teachers.

“It’s going to take a comprehensive approach and we are willing to partner with anyone who shares our concern about the need to have a caring, qualified, committed educator in every classroom,” DiMauro said.