Currently, in the education system there are major staff shortages due to teacher burnout and in turn, teacher attrition. Students going into the teaching profession will often become discouraged form entering th profession because of the high turnover rates they are seeing with teachers they have interacted with in their own lives or over social media. There is a growing hashtag on the social media application called #teacherquittok, a play on words as different niches within the platform are addressed as the niche followed by “tok” instead of TikTok. With this growing hashtag students and parents alike have easier access to the opinions of teachers as they leave the classroom instead of looking to the official news sources.
As teachers continue to bare their hearts on social media, in the news, in board meetings, and picket lines, it seems that there is still disrespect for educators despite the continual fights for fair pay and better working conditions. Teachers share their stories about why they quit as well as what to do with their teaching experience from then on, to find other jobs outside of the classroom that can use their specialized skills.
On this same note, students can see that their own teachers have to leave and are undervalued for all the work that they do. Students notice this and may recognize that an authority figure in their life is not being treated fairly or internalize that they are the reason for their favorite teacher leaving and could not be enough for them to stay. Teachers stay with your children for approximately eight hours of the day, becoming the authority figures and emotional support outside of the home, often wearing multiple hats to keep students on track emotioally and pedagogically. This also works to humanize teachers more than the random people your kids talk about but have only met a couple times during the school year.
According to the article “Understanding Teacher Shortages: An Analysis of Teacher Supply and Demand in the United States” teacher shortage is “used to refer to an insufficient production of new teachers, given the size of student enrollments and teacher retirements” (Sutcher, et. al 4). This is particularly significant considering the birth rates have been steadily declining, meaning less students have been entering schools. If there is still a shortage when there are less students to accommodate, then the amount of teachers in the field are also slowly declining as well.
After the the 2020 quarantine when everyone had to learn from home, there was a rise in distrust if teachers from Conservative parents and politicians who finally had an inside peek into what their children were learning. At the same time, parents were stuck with their children for longer periods of time than they were used to and often had to play the role of teacher at home when an actual certificated teacher was not available because of the worldwide pandemic. Teachers were facing their own issues, with mental and physical health as they watched their students struggle, the world descend into chaos, and have to keep it together over a Zoom screen for the sake of someone else’s kids.
Staffing shortages have persisted after the pandemic. In an article by Fox News, the author quotes an anonymous parent who said “They care about themselves more than they care about the kids,” when speaking to local news about class cancellations in Pennsylvania due to teacher shortages. This is particularly unfair to teachers, as the article comes soon after the 2020 shutdown and during the persisting pandemic. Teachers are exhausted after losing their own livelihoods and possibly some loved ones while coming under fire from parents and politicians alike.
The same Fox News article starts with the quote “Classes have been canceled, principals are picking up mops and brooms to fill in for other positions, and some students have even stepped up to fill in vacant jobs following the coronavirus.” These vacant jobs are going to unqualified people, some even students, because no one will make the changes to keep a decent wrk environment for the people who are qualified and equipped to take on the very significant task of educating today’s youth. The public should stand with teachers to stand for a better future for their children instead of turning on teachers for issues that teachers have no control of. The whole issue, is the lack of control that qualified educators have, or really, do not have in their own classrooms.
Bourjaily, an AP History and Government teacher in Virginia wrote in his opinion article in EdWeek, “How many people outside the classroom realize that this kind of engaging work—tailored to the specific students in a specific classroom—is the norm in public schools across the country? Through lessons like these, teachers develop relationships with their students that communicate respect.” His article is in response to legislation that politicians want to pass about what teachers can teach in the classroom instead of trusting the educators that actually have experience in the classroom, certifications, and degrees in pedagogy and education. Teachers are frustrated with the lack of autonomy given to them instead of being trusted as the professionals that they are. Instead, politicians who have no experience working in a classroom want to dictate what teachers and administrators do and teach in classrooms or other educational settings.
In fact, legislators and administrators control a majority of what happens in a classroom instead of the teachers that should be trusted. According to the article, “Who Will Stay and Who Will Leave? Predicting Secondary English Teacher Attrition Risk” the highest causes of attrition are “the five most common causes of unhappiness were a lack of planning time (60%), too heavy a workload (51%), class sizes (50%), too low a salary (48%), and student behavior (44%)” (Hancock and Scherff 329). These causes are all issues that could be solved if local and state level governments could trust their teachers and give them the resources they need to best serve the students that they are given. Teachers are expected to give up their own time that could be spent with their own families to grade papers, create lesson plans, provide supplemental tutoring, and answer questions from parents on their off-time veause of their dedication to the education of the next generations.
Jeremy Glazer also comments on how legislation affects teachers in his article, “Learning from those who no longer teach: Viewing teacher attrition through a resistance lens,” in which he studies why teachers leave the profession and what can be done to keep teachers from leaving in the first place. Glazer concludes his article, “Their dissatisfaction was not a result of market forces or a new relationship to careers, but rather was a result of policies and their implementation” (69). The first two issues that Glazer addresses is that it is believed that market forces meaning supply and demand affect the amount of teachers coming into the profession or how teachers handle their new careers, but in reality it is a much bigger issue branching into the local, state, and federal governments that control the policies and legislation that dictate what happens in a classroom. Supply and demand or relationships to the career are dismissals of deeper issues that teachers know will not be fixed because of the lack of support from the government and public alike.
Teachers spend anywhere from four to ten years of higher eduction to prepare themselves and better educate themselves to teach your children and yet they are still not trusted to be able to tell the difference about what children should and should not learn. Teachers are constantly undervalued when they should be acknowledged as doing so much more than they should have to. Teachers raise your children when you do not want to or are unable to. Teachers take into account anywhere from twenty to one hundred twenty students per day, and attempting to seek connections, take into account familial and behavioral issues that could affect learning, adapting to the needs of each student in short amounts of time to ensure the best possible learning situations for each student.
However, when teachers are unsupported, students suffer as teachers are no longer able to keep up with the demands of the job. Across the country, teachers have to work multiple jobs to keep up with their basic needs, while still being expected to go into a classroom and give their all and do it again for five days out of the week.
Teachers from non-white backgrounds are even more rare. These teachers are less supported by their Europan American counterparts in higher income schools. While studies show that teachers of color tend to last longer than other teachers, I believe that they only last longer because they are used to being undersupported in other aspects of life because of systemic racism. Supporting all teachers is a win for all students and teachers everywhere. The fight should not be localized to each district, but teachers need to be supported on a federal scale.
Teachers and future teachers need to be persistent in demanding changes in legislation from their local and state governments so that the students they serve and care so deeply about can succeed outside of the classroom and in their personal and professional lives. Support teachers. Support students.
Darling-Hammond, Linda and Desiree Carver-Thomas. “Understanding Teacher Shortages: An
Analysis of Teacher Supply and Demand in the United States” Education Policy Analysis Archives, Vol. 27, no. 35, 2019. Accessed 2022.
Hancock, Carl B, and Lisa Scherff. “Who Will Stay and Who Will Leave? Predicting Secondary
English Teacher Attrition Risk.” Journal of Teacher Education, vol. 61, no. 4, 2010, pp. 328–338. SagePub, Accessed 2022.
Glazer, Jeremy. Learning from Those Who No Longer Teach: Viewing Teacher Attrition through
a Resistance Lens, vol. 74, 2018, pp.62–71. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate. 2018.04 .011.
"Staffing Shortages At School Districts Across America Cause Cancelations, Anxiety Among
Parents". Fox News, 2021,https://www.foxnews.com/us/teacher-staff-shortages-plag uing-districts-coronavirus. Accessed 10 Dec 2022.
"Some Politicians Count On Teachers Staying Silent. We Can't Afford To (Opinion)". Education
Week,2022,https://www.edweek.org/policy-politics/opinion-some-politicians-count-on-teachers-staying-silent-we-cant-afford-to/2022/10. Accessed 10 Dec 2022.
About the Creator
Hello! I am one semester away from graduating with my English BA. I work as an informal STEM Educator and Writing Tutor. I like to write and get my thoughts out in my essays and short stories. Stay tuned :)
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