This one is going to have immense long term effects. The United States is experiencing a teacher shortage.
The teacher shortage in America has hit crisis levels — and school officials everywhere are scrambling to ensure that, as students return to classrooms, someone will be there to educate them.
“I have never seen it this bad,” Dan Domenech, executive director of the School Superintendents Association, said of the teacher shortage. “Right now it’s number one on the list of issues that are concerning school districts … necessity is the mother of invention, and hard-pressed districts are going to have to come up with some solutions.”
You might be wondering why. As a teacher myself (albeit one insulated from the worst by a position in higher ed), I looked at the Washington Post’s explanation to see if it aligned with my own experience.
Why are America’s schools so short-staffed? Experts point to a confluence of factors including pandemic-induced teacher exhaustion, low pay and some educators’ sense that politicians and parents — and sometimes their own school board members — have little respect for their profession amid an escalating educational culture war that has seen many districts and states pass policies and laws restricting what teachers can say about U.S. history, race, racism, gender and sexual orientation, as well as LGBTQ issues.
✔ “pandemic-induced teacher exhaustion”: Yes, definitely. We’ve been overworked for the past few years, trying to adjust to radical changes in instruction. It’s been ugly. The administration hasn’t been particularly helpful, either, happily passing down dictates and expecting us to implement them.
✔ “low pay”: My institution is one of the lowest paying in the University of Minnesota system, and it still rankles that shortly after the pandemic started, they convened a meeting to discuss how best and most equitably to reduce our pay further. Hey, everyone, you need to work harder, and by the way, we want to cut your salary, and have brought in a couple of economists to discuss it. Not the most sensitive move to make.
✔ “politicians and parents … have little respect for their profession”: You bet. That’s not just pandemic-induced, either — we’ve been watching Republicans whittle away at our budget for decades, and the latest accusations that we’re all
post-modern neo-Marxists or trying to smuggle in CRT or encouraging sexual fluidity don’t help. That’s all true, of course, but what’s wrong with that?
✔ “laws restricting what teachers can say”: Not much of a problem for me (higher ed, again), and Minnesota has generally been good about that, but I can see it all coming down the road right now. Elect Ron DeSantis to the presidency, and I’m either going to be fired or lined up with my peers before a firing squad.
I have to add another, though: the cavalier attitude of our administrators to the pandemic. They don’t care. They don’t have to go into classrooms, they sit in their marble-lined offices and pretend the pandemic is over. Nothing has convinced me more that I’m regarded as nothing but a cog in the machine, expendable and easily replaced. Except that maybe I’m not going to be so easily replaced.
Since I am in higher ed, we’ll probably get 50-100 applications for my position the instant I retire.