In 2020, there was a toilet paper shortage. People were buying all of the toilet paper possible, with some selling them on Amazon for high prices. Now, in 2022, we are experiencing a national teacher shortage, with many leaving the profession early during the school year.
Teachers help guide students through their educational careers and set them up for a successful next chapter of life.
Teachers aren’t just leaving Godwin High School – this is a problem across the nation. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatch, 55 percent of teachers across the nation are leaving.
There are organizations that are trying to help teachers and encourage them not to leave. Among those in Virginia are the Henrico Education Association (HEA), the Virginia Education Association (VEA), and the National Education Association (NEA).
These organizations, particularly VEA, are unions of “educators working for the betterment of public education in the Commonwealth of VA,” said Jennifer P. Andrews, an Exceptional Education Teacher at Godwin. She is a current member of all of these organizations.
“This is my fifth year on the VA Department of Education Advisory Board on Teacher Education and Licensure [ABTEL]. We talk about challenges to becoming a teacher and how to encourage more people to enter the teaching profession at every meeting,” said Andrews.
One trend leading to the teacher shortage is that many teacher education programs are not appealing. Adding to that, the number of teachers going into the profession does not make up for those leaving.
“It’s difficult to juggle all of the demands made upon educators, and many new educators have no idea of the demands upon their time and energy,” said Andrews.
That idea may scare some possible teachers, but HEA, VEA, and NEA work to combat that, as well as help present teachers who are struggling.
“We advocate for public education and defend and protect members from unfair regulations, working conditions, and professional liabilities,” said Andrews.
Another trend found in the nation is some teachers feel overwhelmed by the workload.
An NEA Article stated that some teachers are “fighting to just make it through the day.”
These are just two reasons – there are plenty more to add on top.
“Some teachers leave for personal reasons like family commitment or moving to another area… some teachers are tired of disrespect by sectors of the population. Some teachers are not able to live on the pay from the school division and have multiple part-time jobs to make ends meet,” said Andrews.
As Andrews said, teacher pay is another factor. VA ranks 28 in teacher pay, and teachers earn around 40,000 dollars annually, which is under the national average of 66,400 dollars.
Inflation has also caused a decrease in teacher pay, which has lowered by 3.9 percent over the last 10 years.
Some argue that the pay should be raised and that would be a sufficient solution, but that is not the case. Organizations like NEA, VEA, and HEA are trying to find more appropriate and long-lasting solutions.
“The VEA nominates members to serve on the state education committees/boards so the voice[s] of educators can be heard. The Association works to elect officeholders who support public education…” said Andrews.
The rumor that teachers get a summer vacation is false. Most teachers during the summer are going through professional development programs, research and planning, and preparation for class and school activities.
“I have several friends who resigned their teaching job during the school year due to pressures and challenges that only increased as time went by…seeing experienced teachers leave the education profession is sad, but not as sad as the statistic that many educators leave within the first three years of employment,” said Andrews.
Many new educators become overwhelmed by all of the tasks they have and have a hard time managing to complete all of their tasks without having a long to-do list.
“This is a five-alarm crisis,” said NEA President Becky Pringle. “If we’re serious about getting every child the support they need to thrive, our elected leaders across the nation need to address this crisis now.”