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There is a shortage of math teachers in the U.S. that in rural areas reaches the level of “disaster,” according to one observer. Many school districts have concentrated on recruiting new teachers. Some have even taken to recruiting teachers from other countries. 

But a story in The Hechinger Report suggests that the problem isn’t as much finding new math teachers as it is keeping the ones we have in the classroom. 

Richard M. Ingersoll, a University of Pennsylvania education professor, says the math teacher shortage is caused by poor working conditions, particularly in schools with large numbers of poor students. There are plenty of new math teachers coming into the system, but even more are leaving. “We actually produce enough folks,” Ingersoll says. “It’s just that the turnover is such that we have these staffing problems in particular types of schools.”

Secondary schools in both urban and rural districs have the most trouble. “Almost every urban area has massive challenges and problems,” says Henry Kepner, president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). “The rural areas, it’s almost a disaster for math.”

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