September 3, 2022

Justice B. Hill: Teacher shortage won’t improve until educators are treated better

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Writing for, retired journalist and teacher Justice Hill takes a look at the teacher exodus.

Like everyone else considering the story, he has some theories about what is actually happening and why it is happening. Unlike some writers, he puts the current situation in context, correctly noting that the exodus began before the pandemic, but the pandemic surely contributed. 

The pandemic didn’t help matters. Instead, it’s pushed wary, exasperated educators to the cliff’s edge, and a lot of them have taken the leap. They’ve found that industries welcome their skillset, which is why teachers are having no problems landing a good, stable job.

Most of them have tech skills, which are assets when it comes to sharing information – whether that’s with students or coworkers. Teachers, moreover, are quick learners, absorbing knowledge that makes it easier to transition into other occupations.

It is amazing how many folks, including policy leaders, do not grasp that teachers are educated grown-ups who have other choices. Kudos to Hill for noting that, and for recognizing the root of the problem.

Now, the supply is as empty as a banana peel, and no amount of squeezing can pull substance from it — not today, not tomorrow, not next month. The shortage didn’t happen overnight; it won’t disappear overnight.

To bemoan the situation in education serves no purpose at all. Not for students. What the teacher exodus has done — or is doing — is focus the profession on its tomorrows.
Administrators must do more to make teaching attractive, for they have few other choices.
They have had to come to terms with this sobering fact: The men and women who work under them these days realize their skills transfer seamlessly into various careers, and they can pocket more money elsewhere.
So the future of public education, not just because of pay, founders the way a ship does during a tsunami. It can use bright captains to keep it afloat. Whether those captains exist isn’t easy to discern; if they do, do they want the task?
Here’s what I glean from this: Taking teachers for granted imperils the future of education and of our youth.
Read the full op-ed here. 


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