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Nationwide Teacher Shortage: Reasons behind it, Impact of it, How to Overcome it :

Recently with many questions of tolerance and ethics rising, people have asked for a change in the education system. With schools in progressive states, like my former high school in California, swapping its current education standards for courses that stray away from Eurocentric perspectives, teachers are forced to create new curriculum to adapt to the changing times. On the opposite end of the political spectrum, with the rise in ethics and comprehensive education, many parents have become opposed to schools’ attempt of disregarding traditional and archaic teaching standards. Whether the education be around comprehensive sexual education, the reading and teaching of literature that revolves around the Holocaust, or the acceptance and share of information towards the LGBTQ+ community, there has been a strong pull against these aspects fo education. The “Don’t Say Gay Bill” Signed by Florida Govenor Ron DeSantis in March 2022 requires schools to not discuss LGBTQ+ subjects to grades kindergarten to third grade. The introduction and media discourse around this law has led other school districts in other states to either loosen or tighten its stance on seemingly “controversial” topics (topics that demote ignorance and White, Chritstian supremacist values). 

Amidst all of the chaos between the past and progression, schools themselves have faced challenges. Some schools have dealt with overcrowding. Some have failed to receive proper funding to provide a stable and secure education and opportunity for its students, while gearing its finances into the school faculty with higher positions and/or tenure. Some schools have had threats of school shootings. Some schools have poor security. Some schools have had increases in fights and/or drug problems. 

All schools have faced impacts of the pandemic, with many teachers having to teach online. There has also been a reduction in pay for teachers, especially beginning teachers. With the inflation rising and the price of everyday necessities becoming more expensive, the low pay gives less incentive and more requirement for teachers to leave and find a more financially stable job. While having to mentally toggle between passion for teaching and reality for a career in teaching, teachers already have the world expected of them. Teachers need to educate children, grade their papers, ensure they grow academically, and sometimes act as a parent to the children who don’t receive enough emotional support at home. Even at American University, a private Institution which tries to guarantee students and parents that they are a part of a network for “ambitious achievers, compassionate leaders and socially aware citizens”, which is a task that needs reputable teachers to achieve. While holding the promises of guaranteed success, the school was unfairly paying its staff. In 2019, the school’s president, Silvia Burwell, received a 9% increase in her salary, with her pay kissing a million dollars. Simultaneously, staff began to strengthen a union to ask for a pay raise. Fast forwarding to late August, the American University 2022-2023 school year started off with a five day long strike for fair pay for staff members. The strike, causing controversy amongst students and parents, for both its purpose and its inconvenient timing of existing during move-in. The students of the Class of 2026 have already voiced their support for the staff, by walking out during convocation during Burwell’s speech to the class. The walkout, as well as the strike as a whole, ended up in news articles in not only DC, but around the world (thanks Australia). 

Despite the coverage the strike received, every teacher and staff member of a school district or institution should not have to strike to receive a salary that acknowledges the jarring inflation. There needs to be better allocations to fund for teachers that allows that to keep a job in teaching and not need to work a part-time job on the side. But there cannot be a flux of money that goes mainly to staff members with tenure and/or a high position (ex. The majority of the money goes to the principal despite the comfortable life they show while teachers voice their concerns of not being able to pay rent). The American Education System needs to take more action toward the ideals it claims of loving and supporting teachers. If teachers were truly respected, they wouldn’t be paid pennies and they wouldn’t have the march for a livable wage.

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