COVID 19 has exacerbated the looming teacher shortage

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Not unlike rubbing salt into a wound:

Few professions have been more upended by the pandemic than teaching, as school districts have vacillated between in-person, remote and hybrid models of learning, leaving teachers concerned for their health and scrambling to do their jobs effectively.

For students considering a profession in turmoil, the disruptions have seeded doubts, which can be seen in declining enrollment numbers.

One thing this pandemic has exposed is the sheer hypocrisy and selfishness of many of the parents out there. Being forced to help their 2-3 children cope with and succeed at online learning during the quarantine should have given them a better understanding of what teachers have to deal with on a daily basis (try to imagine 30 instead of 3). But way too many of those parents have gone in the opposite direction; directing their anger over personal hardship at educators and school districts. Conservatives have gotten especially vicious in that regard, making this even worse:

A survey by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education found that 19 percent of undergraduate-level and 11 percent of graduate-level teaching programs saw a significant drop in enrollment this year.

Many program leaders believe enrollment fell because of the perceived hazards posed by in-person teaching and the difficulties of remote learning, combined with longstanding frustrations over low pay compared with professions that require similar levels of education. (The national average for a public-school teacher’s salary is roughly $61,000.) Some are hopeful that enrollment will return to its prepandemic level as vaccines roll out and schools resume in-person learning.

But the challenges in teacher recruitment and retention run deeper: The number of education degrees conferred by American colleges and universities dropped by 22 percent between 2006 and 2019, despite an overall increase in U.S. university graduates, stoking concerns about a future teacher shortage.

It's a simple truism that we need to pay teachers more, and give them the resources they need to do their jobs. It ain't rocket surgery. When you have a job as demanding as this, controlling and motivating 25-30 relatively immature individuals with varying aptitudes and attitudes, compensation must be commensurate. It is easily one of the most difficult occupations there is, and most of those parents who whine about teachers would wilt before lunchtime.

We continue to take them for granted at our own peril.

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