Depending on whom you ask, there may or may not be a teacher shortage. I think everybody would agree, however, that there is a shortage of quality teachers and that there are certain positions that go unfilled each year. My school, for example, was short 2 science teachers, a special ed. teacher, and a Spanish teacher my second year -- and a Chorus teacher (after the original teacher and her replacement both quit in the first two months) for most of the year during the second year I taught.
So, in some way, shape, or form, more teachers are needed. What's interesting is how this problem has been addressed. A variety of strategies have been tried: bonuses, fellowships, cutting red tape on hiring, etc. But the most prevalent one seems to be simply lowering the barriers to entry. In other words, making it easier to become a teacher.
I, personally, would not have started teaching if the policy hadn't been in place. Even though I had no training in education, I was allowed to spend one intense summer (supposedly) learning the basics and then jump right into a classroom. Teach For America, The New Teacher Project, and who knows how many other local, regional, and national programs have popped up as alternative routes to certification.
Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with this strategy, you have to admit that it's interesting. And I wonder what it says about the field of teaching. What if we had a shortage of doctors; would we address that by lowering barriers to entry? I can't imagine we would b/c nobody wants a doctor operating on them who is smart but knows little about the human body. What if there was a shortage of lawyers; would we shorten law school? If we had a shortage of bus drivers, would we let them finish the training courses while driving routes full-time? If we had a shortage of police officers, would we give people temporary badges while they figure out how to do their job?
I don't know the answers to above questions. I guess people used to be temporarily deputized in order to form posses to track outlaws in the old days (at least in books and movies anyway), so maybe there is some precedent for this. But I wonder which fields we'd be willing to lower entry requirements for and which we wouldn't. And why.