Education has had a lasting impact on my life. I still correspond with many of my teachers from elementary and middle school--they made learning fun and interesting and allowed me to explore my creativity and individuality. Unfortunately, the education system has changed a great deal and lots of kids won't be lucky enough to have that same experience. There is a bleak job market for teachers in Iowa and many school districts have already begun to prepare for major changes.

Iowa colleges are now graduating 400 fewer teachers, counselors and administrators a year, a 16 percent decline, than they did in 2013. Now, about 2,100 graduates are earning education degrees a year, according to Iowa Department of Education data.

In addition, schools are upping recruiting efforts, especially for hard-to-fill areas such as special education, English language learning, and in more rural areas, math and science teachers. Future teachers could be eligible to receive forgivable student loans at both the state and federal levels. The Iowa Department of Education lists science as the area of most need, but there is a significant need statewide for general education teachers across fifth-through-twelfth grade.

With increased competition for applicants, others are increasing incentives. Des Moines Public Schools is offering a $3,000 signing bonus to special education teachers, for example, plus an 18-month contract to insulate against unforeseen budget cuts. [Des Moines Register]

My mom always thought I'd make a great teacher. Maybe this is my shot? Or maybe she's my mom and HAS to tell me stuff like that...

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