We Gotta Get Out of This Place

We gotta get out of this place
If it’s the last thing we ever do
We gotta get out of this place
‘Cause girl, there’s a better life for me and you

The Animals

If you do a web search on “serious teacher shortage”, you will find many results (my search returned 254,000,000 results) about teachers considering leaving the classroom as shortages rise and demands grow. This is a serious problem with no solution in sight.

There’s Talk of Allowing Retired Teachers To Return to the Classroom Without Penalty

Here are some statements by Ruby Lee1:

In case you didn’t know, there is a serious teacher shortage going on right now. Things have been heading this way for some time. Today I heard that there was talk about allowing teachers in Georgia to return to the classroom without penalty after they’ve been retired for a year.

Here are some of the reasons why.

  • I’ve lost my patience for BS, not only from the kids but from the administrators and parents.
  • Now that I’ve seen how the “real” working world is, I’m not willing to give up all of my free time for my job with no compensation. There is no other occupation that I can think of that expects this.
  • The salary for teachers is still below what other professionals earn with the same education.
  • I’m not willing to be talked “down” to by administrators. I don’t intend to ever be treated like a child again.
  • Children are not as disciplined as they used to be. I don’t want to be cussed at, ignored, or feel like I am in physical danger.
  • I’m not interested in being micro-managed. If I’m a professional with an education, I shouldn’t have someone looking over my shoulder.
  • Teachers are expected to work during their planning periods covering other teachers’ classes. No Thanks.
  • I do not believe in the standardized testing that is happening in schools today. Doing well on a test doesn’t make you a good student. Having students pass a test doesn’t make you a good teacher. Teachers are held responsible for a child’s test scores even if the child has recently arrived in their classroom.

Why Do Public Schools Have A Teacher Shortage?

Also, note some of the comments by Ted Kord2:

Because a lot of people just don’t want the job. The pay ranges from poor to good, depending on a number of factors. But most teachers were never in it for the money. They were teachers because they wanted to teach. But for many teachers, classroom behavior has gotten so bad that their job is virtually impossible. Teaching has changed over the last couple decades, and not for the better. The following have become the daily challenges for too many 21st Century teachers:

  1. Defiance from the same students, over and over again (without consequences).
  2. Daily profanity, sometimes directed at the teacher (without consequences).
  3. Smart phone addiction.
  4. Vandalism of school and teacher property
  5. Violence and threats
  6. Increasing number of students who refuse to use class time for school work.
  7. Increasing pressure on teachers to pass students who won’t do any work.
  8. Room clears when students go berserk.

Teaching used to be a great job, even if the pay wasn’t great. Today, it’s not a career I would recommend to a young person in college. 

Teachers have declined as figures worthy of respect. Here are the main symptoms of that decline:

  • Many students no longer see teachers as authority figures.
  • Many parents are quick to assume that the teachers are bullies who pick on their little angel.
  • If parents know their child has conduct issues, they are quick to medicalize the problem so that the child is the victim of some condition, with the teacher being unreasonable.
  • An entire activist class has emerged with with the goal of dismantling traditional discipline.
  • Our own union (NEA Annual Meeting) has taken the side of the activists over teachers themselves.
  • School boards see teachers as greedy, ungrateful sloths who just want to complain about class size and pay.
  • School administrators, largely unsuccessful teachers who couldn’t wait to get out of the classroom, see teachers as cattle who need to be prodded into following policies.

I believe that part of this change can be attributed to how children are raised, and part can be attributed to how schools operate.

Final Words

Let me quote the information from the press release for the report The Teacher Shortage Is Real, Large And Growing, And Worse Than We Thought: The First Report In ‘The Perfect Storm In The Teacher Labor Market’ Series.3

What this report finds: The teacher shortage is real, large and growing, and worse than we thought. When indicators of teacher quality (certification, relevant training, experience, etc.) are taken into account, the shortage is even more acute than currently estimated, with high-poverty schools suffering the most from the shortage of credentialed teachers.

Why it matters: A shortage of teachers harms students, teachers, and the public education system as a whole. Lack of sufficient, qualified teachers and staff instability threaten students’ ability to learn and reduce teachers’ effectiveness, and high teacher turnover consumes economic resources that could be better deployed elsewhere. The teacher shortage makes it more difficult to build a solid reputation for teaching and to professionalize it, which further contributes to perpetuating the shortage. In addition, the fact that the shortage is distributed so unevenly among students of different socioeconomic backgrounds challenges the U.S. education system’s goal of providing a sound education equitably to all children.

What we can do about it: Tackle the working conditions and other factors that are prompting teachers to quit and dissuading people from entering the profession, thus making it harder for school districts to retain and attract highly qualified teachers: low pay, a challenging school environment, and weak professional development support and recognition. In addition to tackling these factors for all schools, we must provide extra supports and funding to high-poverty schools, where teacher shortages are even more of a problem.3

What to do until, and if, the educational system is “fixed?” Take your education into your own hands (see “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”), plan your route to where you want to go and execute the plan.

I encourage you to read the article by Eva Keiffenheim titled 3 Things I Learned from the Country with Europe’s Best Schools. One aspect of the article that was thought provoking was the graphic that displayed how education is organised in Estonia. Rather than “push” students to go to college, they are guided to the best career choice based on their performance and desire. Use this as a guide to getting your education.

How education is organised in Estonia. (Source: Education Estonia)


1 Lee, Ruby. “There’s Talk of Allowing Retired Teachers To Return to the Classroom Without Penalty”. 2022. Medium. https://medium.com/inspired-education/theres-talk-of-allowing-retired-teachers-to-return-to-the-classroom-without-penalty-1c42f994bf7f.

2 Kord, Ted. “Why Do Public Schools Have A Teacher Shortage?” 2022. Quora. https://qr.ae/pvCgkY.

3 García, Emma and Elaine Weiss. “The Teacher Shortage Is Real, Large And Growing, And Worse Than We Thought: The First Report In ‘The Perfect Storm In The Teacher Labor Market’ Series”. 2019. Economic Policy Institute. https://www.epi.org/publication/the-teacher-shortage-is-real-large-and-growing-and-worse-than-we-thought-the-first-report-in-the-perfect-storm-in-the-teacher-labor-market-series/.

Additional Reading

Fan, Ryan. “As A Teacher, I Wanted To Change The Education System. Instead, The Education System Changed Me.”. 2022. Medium. https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/as-a-teacher-i-wanted-to-change-the-education-system-instead-the-education-system-changed-me-8b788ef4c4da.

Three years ago, I was a lot more of an idealist.

I thought I could change the education system, that I could be the teacher who really made a difference in my students’ lives and helped them believe in themselves.

I knew movies like Freedom Writers or Finding Forrester got a bad reputation for their white savior narratives, but I really wanted to make a difference in ameliorating the inequalities in our education system because I felt good education and good teachers could drastically change class and race inequality in America.

I wanted to serve a high-need environment and be part of that change on the frontlines, as difficult as it was, and so I chose to teach in high poverty Title I schools in Baltimore.

That’s the reason I become a teacher when I just graduated with a college degree from a top 20 elite American university.

Lee, Ruby. “Teachers Are Some Of The Highest Trained And Educated Employees Of Any Profession”. 2022. Medium. https://medium.com/the-life-of-a-mexican-high-school-teacher/teachers-are-some-of-the-highest-trained-and-educated-employees-of-any-profession-c9a49166c95a.

Did you know that there is a teacher shortage? This shortage has become so dire that some states are allowing retired teachers to return to work full time while continuing to receive their pensions.

While this could be lucrative financially, I am in no way considering it.

Since my retirement, I’ve had a few part-time jobs. However, the experience of working outside of a public school environment opened my eyes. I knew that teachers were treated like children, but it took working outside the public school to see just how poorly teachers are treated.

Wildfire, Jessica. “Nobody Wants To Teach Anymore”. 2022. Medium. https://jessicalexicus.medium.com/nobody-wants-to-teach-anymore-66f09b877b11.

It’s getting pretty bad.

Schools are resorting to all kinds of last ditch measures. They’re planning to hold classes three or four days a week. They’re hiring teachers from outside the country. They’re recruiting military vets. They’re letting college students with no training into the classroom. They’re not going to be interns. They’re going to be in charge of everyone’s kids.

We’re not just talking about K-12 schools, either. The shortages have started hitting colleges so hard that, once again, they’re talking about increasing class sizes and upping our loads.

Nobody wants to teach.

Not anymore.

Comments are closed.

Website Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: