Nothing will get a labor economist’s mental gears turning like the word “shortage.” At the very utterance of this term, Michael Podgursky’s ears perk up, his eyebrow rises, and he leans over his desk: “What do you mean by shortages?” It’s not that Podgursky isn’t accustomed to hearing the word—quite the contrary, actually. As a professor of Economics at MU, his query results from extensive research on education, a field that has fallen victim on numerous occasions to accusations of “shortages.”
K-12 education is an important area of concern for the United States. According to Podgursky, the country hasn’t been faring well in terms of international test scores. Research shows that countries with higher levels of scores grow faster, and that students who score higher earn more money than those with lower scores.
While Podgursky doesn’t believe there is a shortage of qualified teachers, he does want to see more teachers who have extensive training in areas like math and science. He explains that the certification system acts as a barrier for potential applicants skilled in biological and physical sciences.