Career in teaching? College students turning away in droves

07.25.16 | Bob Price

Danielle Arnold-Schwartz, a teacher in the Lower Merion School District, considers education her calling. Yet, when her 16-year-old daughter began mulling the same career path, she advised her to choose a second major, just in case.

The profession, Arnold-Schwartz warned, has been undermined by skin-and-bones school budgets, testing overkill, increasingly rigorous teacher evaluations, and dimming public respect, among a raft of relatively recent negatives.

"I don't think you'll find this as satisfying as you think," she told her daughter.

That message appears to be resonating among young people who, as never before, are turning away from teaching. The number of U.S. college students graduating with education degrees slipped from 106,300 in 2004 to 98,900 in 2014, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

A far more spectacular plunge has occurred in Pennsylvania.

In 2013, the state awarded 18,590 teaching certificates. In 2015, it handed out 7,180 - a 61 percent decrease.

Within Pennsylvania's 14 public universities, undergraduates majoring in education - traditionally the most popular subject - rose steadily through the latter 2000s to a peak of 18,287 in 2009, only to plunge to 11,583 in 2015.

In New Jersey, the trend is less dramatic, but undeniable. From 2012 to 2014, the annual count of education graduates slid from 6,639 to 6,169.