Implementing aid could stop the decline in teachers


​​In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the nation are facing an abnormal shortage of qualified teachers. Despite a surge in job openings, many teaching positions remain unfilled due to inadequate wages. This has prompted schools to recruit individuals from other professions, such as bus drivers, custodians, and veterans, to fill the gaps in the classroom. The current state of the teaching profession is at or near its lowest levels in 50 years.

The teachers that do currently work in the field are also struggling. According to Forbes, “A national survey of teachers in January 2022 reported that 90% had experienced burnout, 74% had had to fill in for colleagues or take on other duties due to staff shortages, and more than 55% planned to leave education sooner than originally planned.”

One of the primary reasons for the decline in the number of teachers is the low-salary compared to the demanding nature of the profession. Teachers have been undervalued in terms of compensation, with educators often earning less than professionals in other fields that require similar levels of education and training. The average salary of teachers has actually declined by an estimated 6.4 percent, or $3,644, over the past decade. 

Teachers play a crucial role in shaping the future of society by educating and inspiring the next generation. They not only impart academic knowledge but also instill important values and life skills in their students. Given the vital importance of their role, it is only fair that teachers are compensated adequately for their hard work, dedication and the significant impact they have on the lives of their students.

It was reported that the estimated number of teacher vacancies around the nation was around 36,500 at the start of the 2022-23 school year. There have been a lot of discussions about what to do to tackle the teacher shortage. 

One of the solutions is to increase teacher pay. Even some federal lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that “would incentivize states and school districts to raise the teacher pay floor.” Another solution is to partner with teacher prep programs. Schools and districts could develop better partnerships with teacher preparation programs near their communities. This would not only benefit the schools but also the aspiring teachers because a lot of the programs are outdated. States should also focus on bettering the teacher programs and expanding residencies. Early career teachers should be provided with mentors to help them in the first couple of years. 

Improving working conditions is the best way to fix this issue. Districts can survey teachers to assess the quality of the teaching and learning environment and to guide improvements. They can also offer more professional development and ways for teachers to grow.


Featured photo courtesy of Tima Miroshnichenko, Pexels