In most states in the United States, a person must have a degree in education in order to be a teacher. At one time, roughly 20 percent of those in college were education majors. The number of education majors has fallen since the 1980s, and now the number of education majors in college is only around ten percent. The decline is only expected to continue. The number of current college freshmen who plan to be education majors is at the lowest point since records have been kept.
Right now, there is a teacher shortage in many states. This is especially true in the areas of science and math. Several states are trying to pass legislation that will mandate smaller class sizes. If these laws go into effect, many more teachers will be needed.
In order to combat the teacher shortage and the lack of education majors, a few states are changing the requirements needed to become a teacher. States have experimented with letting those with a master’s degree in a field of study become teachers without a teaching degree. Other states are allowing students to have only a minor in education to receive a teaching credential.
There are several factors at play that may be leading to the decline in those majoring in education. Teaching is not one of the more high paying professions, so students are majoring in fields that are more financially lucrative. Many do not want to deal with the demands that are placed on teachers. With an emphasis on testing, some students don’t want to go into the field thinking that all they will be doing is teaching a test.