Shortages Of Teachers Nationwide Sparks Panic

Upon searching “teacher shortage” on the internet, one can find a news report from almost every single US state outlining the current crisis relating to thousands of abandoned teaching positions across the country, with districts beginning to worry as the first day of school grows closer. While the pandemic negatively affected all Americans, teachers disproportionately got the short end of the stick, being forced to adopt a completely new style of teaching via Zoom and Webex. As someone with two elementary school teachers as parents, I have first-handedly seen the toll that virtual teaching has had on educators and the subsequent exhaustion that has led many to quit and pursue other professions over the past year.

About 10 years ago during the Great Recession, over 20,000 teachers were laid off nationwide, but now districts are facing the opposite problem and struggling to find enough teachers so that classes aren’t forced to be overfilled. What has now been called the “Great Resignation,” news has spread of thousands of open jobs, from Nevada to Wisconsin to Ohio. Three different districts in South Carolina shared that over 400 total positions are currently vacant only two weeks before the first day of school, forcing them to raise teachers’ salaries from $36,000 to $40,000 statewide. 

In addition to the burnout from Covid and the difficulty teaching children in-person with mask mandates in place, the unchanging low salary that teachers receive has deterred many from staying in the education field, with the current economic issues and inflation making it extremely difficult for teachers to make a living wage to support themselves and their families. In Missouri, new teachers with a bachelor’s degree only make $25,000 a year, coming out to about $2,000 monthly, which is a completely unrealistic salary for anyone trying to pay off their mortgage, have children, or generally just not live paycheck-to-paycheck. One teacher shared how even with multiple master’s degrees and years of experience in the field, she is paid less than $38,000 annually.

When it seems as if every job in the STEM field has starting salaries of six figures, it is extremely disheartening to see that the individuals who shape the minds of our children are being underpaid and overworked, with some subsequently losing their passion for teaching. Additionally, the increase in school shootings and lack of gun regulation is alarming for those who plan to spend every day in a classroom, especially when the absurd notion of teachers being armed comes into discussion. The teacher shortage nationwide should be a wake-up call to the government to prioritize one of the most fundamental jobs there is, and grant teachers all of the benefits that they deserve.  


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