Kennedy Suffers an ELL Teacher Shortage


Merideth Langton

The Cedar Rapids Community School District is struggling to find enough ELL teachers

Lexie Waybill, Writer

Since the pandemic we’ve had a universal teacher shortage. Kennedy is no exception and has fallen victim to it. The shortage has started to affect the way teachers teach and the students learn, especially English Language Learners (ELL). 

Emily Gotto, a leader in the ELL program said there are over 1,200 students in the ELL program and only 10 high school teachers for ELL. 

ELL teacher Julie Bradley thinks this might just be the beginning“I think we’re just starting to see that tip of the iceberg, I think in the next 10 years, we’re definitely going to feel the impact.” 

The ELL teachers are worrying that their students may not be getting enough attention or help when in their other classes. 

“The most important thing for the ELLs is not feeling like they’re getting the support they need because they need additional support with vocabulary and some of the cultural things,” said Bradley.

Students aren’t getting the extra support they need in other classes because we can’t provide staff to help co-teach a class putting extra demand on the primary ELL classes to teach STEM classes in their classrooms leaving no room for other learning opportunities.

“We normally have an ELL math class where there’s an ELL teacher in there with a math teacher, this year we can’t offer that. In my classroom I’m just supporting more of what they are doing in math,” said Level One ELL teacher, Kristina Bruce.  

There’s also a lot more work in demand for the ELL teachers, like teaching science and math in their classes. Which would take time away from other things they could teach in class such as cultural things.  

“Just having less specialized classes for the ELs, like a co-taught math or co-taught history puts a lot more demand on what we do in their primary ELL class,” said Bruce.

Luckily, Kennedy’s ELL teachers have a choice of whether they teach or substitute another class during their prep periods. 

“I haven’t had to cover anyone this year and, I mean I appreciate that about Kennedy, I think that’s a difference between high school and elementary school and middle school, where you’re not necessarily asked, you’re told…and here we have the option,” said Bradley.

The school is putting out applications and it showed one of the main problems: the teachers applying are not qualified or have the right education for the job.

 “…the ELL position that was open, we didn’t even get any qualified candidates to apply,” said Bradley.