A new analysis by the Center on Reinventing Public Education finds 93 of 100 large and urban districts have talked about staffing shortages in the 2021-22 school year. About half of these districts — 48 of them — are experiencing shortages across multiple departments and positions.

While some have gotten creative in filling open jobs, many have struggled to hold onto dissatisfied educators and compete against a flourishing gig economy and new remote working conditions that offer more flexibility and options to workers, often for more pay, according to a report from The 74.

Experts say this moment calls for bold reconsideration of some assumptions about the teacher workforce and coordinated action across the local, state and federal levels. Failure to act could cause public education to become a second-rate profession with schools acting as a destabilizing force in children’s development.

Here are some possible courses of action according to The 74’s research analysts:

Expand grow-your-own pipelines that attract a broader, more diverse pool of talent. Districts or states must create a formal path for new employees who may not meet certification thresholds to start as hourly staff and progress into school and central office leadership roles as they gather experience, certifications and responsibility. Such programs could provide introductory courses in high school, paid summer internships in college and financial incentives to recruit graduates back to work in the schools they once attended.

Districts could also increase the appeal of harder-to-staff positions, like substitute teachers and bus drivers, by offering these workers clear pathways to better-paying jobs as professional educators. The U.S. Department of Education, which has sympathized with the plight of districts and teachers, could play a greater role in incentivizing pipeline programs or coordinating best practices across states.

Demand that state leaders and labor agreements reduce barriers to entering the profession. Districts need more flexible teacher certification requirements and school-day scheduling options. Certification standards should reflect an updated understanding of what teachers must know and be able to do to provide students with a well-rounded and holistic education. State certification requirements should especially acknowledge the work logged by “informal educators” who stepped in during the pandemic — community organization staff and parents who led their children’s education outside the classroom.

Similarly, while well intended, rigid instructional minute and daily schedule requirements prevent districts from shaping a work environment that offers the autonomy and flexibility more students and teachers alike have come to expect as remote collaboration transforms other aspects of work and life. Adolescents are at the same risk of leaving school as teachers are, as employers now offer $15-an-hour minimum wage jobs that compete for their time during the traditional school day. Districts have to be able to move from the standard 8-to-3 school day to offer attractive options to teachers looking for flexible schedules and students looking to join the workforce while completing high school.

Create more diverse working environments that in turn create more diverse learning options for students. The role of the teacher must be re-examined. Arizona State University and its partner districts are reconfiguring the role of a singular “teacher” into coordinated teams with specialized positions, reflecting the diverse array of skills needed to holistically support the whole child. Districts have the opportunity now to pilot long-term, high-quality remote school options, creating new working and learning environments that can appeal to educators who have developed new preferences and might otherwise leave their classrooms.

Indianapolis Public Schools began this work last spring, authorizing two new district-affiliated public charter schools, partnered with community-based organizations to reflect student and community needs, to provide a permanent high-quality remote learning option. Guilford County Public Schools has established after-school learning hubs that provide personalized academic and social-emotional support to disengaged high school students and compensate them for their time. Such approaches, currently an exception to the norm and requiring vision and bold leadership, would gain more traction were there more attention and endorsement from national education leaders.

Districts have unprecedented stimulus funds and two years to invest them in pilot ideas like these. State leaders must step in to provide the flexibility for them to do this and reward and promote innovative approaches. Universities must be willing to rethink educational training and recruitment to meet the changing needs of the schools they support. And the federal government must encourage state- and district-led innovations that build a quality pool of future educators who can build the next generation of leaders equipped to confront the challenges that await.