America's teacher shortage: The obvious result of terrible pay, right-wing attacks, and COVID-19

America's teacher shortage: The obvious result of terrible pay, right-wing attacks, and COVID-19

August 4, 2022 0 By Ellen Novack

Between remote teaching and COVID-19; being chronically underpaid; and being attacked by parents, school boards, and lawmakers over what they teach in terms of race, history, and the LGBTQ+ community, U.S. teachers have left the profession in droves. Who can blame them?

Since there’s no database, no one knows exactly how many districts are without teachers, but according to The Washington Post, it’s between hundreds to thousands of gaps in staffing.

Rebeka McIntosh, an alternative school educator for 25 years from south Kansas City and the Missouri National Education Association vice president, told the Missouri Independent that getting and keeping teachers “is literally the train coming at us through the tunnel.”

RELATED STORY: Nancy Thompson’s MAGA train—Mothers Against Greg Abbott—may just run down the Texas governor

Campaign Action

Salary is one of the largest elephants in the room when it comes to teacher dissatisfaction.

Starting salaries for teachers in Missouri are among the lowest in the nation, at $25,000 to start and $33,000 for teachers with a master’s degree and at least 10 years of experience, the Independent reports.

Schools across the nation are using stopgap measures to meet the needs of their school districts.

The Post reports that due to limited staffing, some Texas schools in rural districts are moving to four-day weeks.

According to Florida Politics, Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis is encouraging military veterans to get their teaching credentials amid the state’s rampant teaching shortage.

“You give me somebody who has four years of experience as a Devil Dog over somebody who has four years of experience at Shoehorn U, and I will take the Marine every day of the week and twice on Sunday,” DeSantis said.

Andrew Spar, president of the Florida Education Association, responded to DeSantis with a different take: “I think we all appreciate what our military veterans have done for our country in terms of protecting our freedoms both here and abroad,” he said. “But just because you were in the military does not mean you will be a great teacher.”

It’s not just DeSantis’ ongoing attack on critical race theory or acknowledging the existence of LGBTQ people on school grounds. His latest attack on teachers comes in the form of a three-day mandatory “Civics Excellence” training program. Florida teachers are now fighting back against it.

Barbara Segal, a Broward County teacher who attended one of DeSantis’ courses, told NBC News the course was “unsettling.”

One slide presented by the Florida Board of Education during the training read:

“Misconception: The Founders desired strict separation of church and state and Founders only wanted to protect Freedom of worship.”

Another slide titled “Opposition to Slavery” had quotes from President George Washington and President Thomas Jefferson opposing slavery. Both owned enslaved people.

FL civics teachers are speaking out after attending Desantis’s new mandatory 3-day ‘patriotic history’ indoctrination seminars. One example they cited was that students would be told Washington & Jefferson opposed slavery, while omitting the fact that they owned them.

— Ron Filipkowski 🇺🇦 (@RonFilipkowski) August 4, 2022

And in July, Arizona’s Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill removing the bachelor’s degree requirement so college students could teach in classrooms, K-12 Dive reports.  

Dawn Etcheverry, president of the Nevada State Education Association, told the Post that the new teacher staffing measures could ultimately hurt students.

“When you start to double classes, teachers don’t have that one-on-one with the students, that personal ability to understand what the student needs,” Etcheverry said. 

At least one school district is tackling the issue by starting with raising teachers’ salaries.

Nevada’s Clark County School District (CCSD) released a statement that reads in part:

“The new starting licensed teacher salary was increased to $50,115; the previous starting salary was $43,011. CCSD also raised the starting pay for bus drivers to $22.74. Previously, starting pay for a bus driver was $15.36. New teachers moving from out of state or moving more than 100 miles are also eligible for a $4,000 relocation bonus. Those eligible must agree to work for CCSD for three years.”

But Jeff Horn, executive director of the Clark County Association of School Administrators, told the Post, “Band-aid-wise, I think they’re doing whatever they can,” but “it’s a mess.”