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National teacher shortage: A third of educators plan to leave their jobs, survey finds

STATEN ISLAND, NY — More teachers are considering leaving the education field due to job dissatisfaction, adding to the ongoing teacher shortage crisis in the United States.

The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) member survey showed that the 2021-2022 school year was “one of the worst years for pre-K-12 teachers and staff.”

It showed the lowest job satisfaction rates ever for paraprofessionals and school staff, and revealed that 79% of teachers said they were dissatisfied with their current overall working conditions.

And last month, a Rand Corp. revealed that around a third of teachers and principals said they were likely to leave their current jobs by the end of the 2021-2022 school year.

“Why do we have a shortage of teachers? Because we lack respect for educators,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “A shortage of professional working conditions that allow teachers and other staff to do their best for their students. We are underpaid for what is arguably the most important job in the world. No wonder teachers’ job dissatisfaction has increased by 34 points since the start of the pandemic. The teacher shortage is a direct result of lack of conditions, respect and pay – and we’re not going to fix one without fixing the others.

To address the teacher shortage, the AFT published a report “Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?” which outlines targeted solutions to ensure educators have the tools, time, confidence and training they need to do their jobs and stay in their jobs.

Even before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, nearly 300,000 teachers were leaving the profession every year and schools faced persistent shortages.

The pandemic has only made matters worse, AFT said.

“Teachers and school staff have struggled for years with a lack of professional respect; inadequate support and resources; below-average pay; unsustainable student loan debt; endless paperwork; and a culture of blame that weaponizes standardized testing to attack public schools and public school teachers,” Weingarten said. “And then came COVID. The pandemic, combined with the political culture wars, has made the past two years the toughest in modern times for educators. On top of all that, the unthinkable happened again, when gun violence claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.

Weingarten explained that it is unclear how many teachers considering leaving will actually leave. But 74% of those polled said they were unlikely to recommend the profession to a potential new teacher.

Michael Mulgrew, co-chair of the AFT task force and president of the United Federation of Teachers of New York, said school districts across the country are facing dangerous staffing shortages as they are unable to attract and retain educators.

“Despite the sheer heroism our teachers and schools have shown during the pandemic, too many communities are failing to invest in public education,” he said. “We know how to reverse this trend. Our responsibility is to make it happen. Our students rely on us. »

The AFT report offered practical, research-tested solutions to reverse shortages and revitalize the teaching profession, including:

  • Increase wages and benefits;
  • Reducing the “teacher pay penalty” or a 20% gap between teachers’ salaries and those of their university-educated non-teaching peers;
  • Diversify the educator workforce, through promising practices such as Grow-Your-Own programs and sustained mentorship;
  • Reduce class size;
  • Curbing the nation’s “test and punish” obsession with standardized testing;
  • Reduce endless paperwork collected for administrative purposes and district-wide reporting.

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