Teacher shortages continue as the 2022-2023 school year kicks off: 'We don't have a workforce'

video

FOX Business Flash top headlines for August 11

Check out what’s clicking on FoxBusiness.com.

A brand new school year is about to kick off in many parts of America, but one thing is missing in many districts: enough staff.  

Well ahead of the 2022-2023 school year, educators and government officials have issued concerns about the ongoing shortage of teachers and school support staff — a years-long problem that was only exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, the ever mutating coronavirus, which tested educators like never before, is far from the only struggle school officials have faced in recent years. 

Darby Hoppenftedt, the director of student support services for the Novi Community School District in Novi, Michigan, told FOX Business the country is still experiencing an "educator crisis" and that the root cause is multifaceted. 

WORKERS LEAVING JOBS FOR TRUCKING INDUSTRY, SIX-FIGURE SALARIES

Schoolgirl raising hand while classmates looking on with teacher in background (iStock / iStock)

Not only are individuals exiting the field en masse, but there is a smaller pipeline applying to take their place, Hoppenftedt said. 

Within a two-month span this summer, the district lost seven administrators including a superintendent and two assistant superintendents. 

"We have not experienced anything like this in my 19 years in the district," she said. "It’s a significant impact on a school community."

Similarly, Carol Baaki Diglio, the assistant superintendent of human resources for the Oak Park School District in Oak Park, Michigan, told FOX Business that they lost 51 staff members during the 2021-2022 school year.  

TEACHERS ARE QUITTING, AND COMPANIES ARE HOT TO HIRE THEM

Baaki Diglio retired in 2017 after decades of working in the field, however, she came back out of retirement two years later because of the shortage. 

"We don't have a workforce," Baaki Diglio said. "The very profession that takes care of children, that are responsible for making sure that their needs are met and that they are achieving at a rate that they can graduate and be productive citizens, we're losing that workforce."

People are being discouraged from entering the field and "it's terrifying to watch," she said. However, what's not being talked about enough is the impact this has on the children, she added. 

Teacher Appreciation Week runs from May 2 through May 6. (iStock / iStock)

Anthony Esposito, president of Sayreville Board of Education, in Sayreville, New Jersey, told FOX Business that their district is in better shape than others, but they are still trying to fill some positions. 

Ahead of the school year, the district posted on Twitter that it was still looking for bus drivers and part-time paraprofessionals. Esposito also noted the district is searching for substitute teachers, which "has been an issue for a few years now and it seems to be getting worse," he added.

Meanwhile, Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said his state is facing "real challenges in fully staffing teachers" and argued that it took too long to pass a budget that included a 10% raise for teachers over the next two years along with bonuses.

"It would have been really nice for the recruiting to be able to start much earlier for these spots with some certainty," Youngkin said in a statement to FOX Business. 

WITH RED-HOT INFLATION, NEW TEACHER SALARIES ARE 11% LESS THAN 30 YEARS AGO: REPORT

In particular, the state is facing "some real shortages" with special education and in math in Kindergarten through 6th grade, he said. 

"We're working right now with the whole licensure process to be able to hopefully bring back some teachers who may have retired and get their licenses renewed pretty quickly and also, and also to have licenses that can be put in place quickly for new teachers," Youngkin said.

Interior of school classroom with row of empty desks in front of whiteboard. (iStock / iStock)

According to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), nearly every state "experienced substantial losses in local public education employment" as a result of the pandemic with 16 states facing a decline of at least 5% and seven states facing a decline of at least 8%. 

Even though the toughest days of the pandemic are behind us, there is an ongoing lack of respect for educators including low pay and a reduction of benefits, according to Hoppenftedt. 

  • The average teacher salary in the United States was $66,397 for the 2021-2022 school year, according to the National Education Association.
  • New teachers earned $41,770 on average.
  • According to the NEA, educators only make 81 cents on the dollar in comparison to other professionals with similar experience and credentials.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE 

Additionally, weekly wages of education support staff such as food service workers, bus drivers, and teaching assistants in K–12 education are also "considerably lower than typical weekly wages in the economy overall," according to the EPI. 

The EPI said raising pay and using federal relief funds to invest in the education workforce are critical steps to solving staffing shortages.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS

Along with pay raises and more benefits, American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten said, in part, that there needs to be less administration paperwork, smaller classroom sizes, and a more diverse workforce. 

"Teachers and school staff have been struggling for years with a lack of professional respect; inadequate support and resources; subpar compensation; untenable student loan debt; endless paperwork," Weingarten said in a statement. 

"The pandemic, combined with the political culture wars, made the last two years the toughest in modern times for educators. On top of all of that, the unthinkable happened again, when gun violence took the lives of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas," she added.

Source: Read Full Article