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Teacher world gets the short end of the staff stick

MON. | 03-21-22 | OPINION

     Rose has recently experienced a faculty shortage from many teachers retiring, but this isn't just a local issue.  According to PBS News, 32% of teachers across the country have turned towards retirement earlier than they originally planned due to the stress of COVID-19 and several other problems with the profession.

     Currently at Rose, we have around nine unfilled positions, and all but one of those teachers has been replaced with a long-term substitute. Having a long-term substitute as opposed to a teacher makes it difficult for students to ask questions and understand the material they are being assigned. This tends to be a trend across the country. According to PBS News, "more than 2,100 K-12 employees retired after the 2019-20 school year, increasing to 2,686 a year later." 

     While COVID-19 has not been the

Teacher shortage.HEIC

Photo by Jack Albritton

only factor in this teacher shortage, it has played a predominant role. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers and school staff have had to work much harder. COVID-19-related absences have caused teachers to have to keep track of their students’ ability to learn the material outside of school and access the assignments remotely so they can progress in the curriculum. Unfortunately, many of those students who are working online end up not logging in at all, which forces teachers to have to catch them up in class on the topic they are learning. In addition, teachers who have worked hard to create a lesson plan have had to alter their classroom management in order to suit the spontaneously changing policies of the school board. Many of these retiring teachers have understandably opted for higher paying and less stressful jobs. 

     Compensation for education employees in the U.S. has been up for debate for decades, as teachers are severely underpaid for the amount of work they do. According to Glass Door and Ziprecruiter, teachers in Pitt County make approximately 40,000 dollars a year, while the average salary in Pitt County is 53,655 dollars. It's completely unreasonable that teachers are making approximately 14,000 dollars a year less than the majority of people in the county.

     Having fewer teachers in a school system can also put extra stress on school administrators and department leaders. School administrators are constantly looking for teachers they can hire to fill the empty classes, in addition to compensating substitutes while these classes are without an educator. Department chairs also have to provide the long-term substitutes in their section with material to give to the students and help any struggling students with the topics they are learning, adding an unfair level of stress to the teachers.

     Teachers are not only a key part in a functioning school system, they play a pivotal role in society. Without a proper education, no one would be able to succeed in the real world. In order to prevent teachers from retiring, we need to fix the long-standing issues with the way the profession is managed and funded. Having a long-term substitute just simply isn’t good enough if we want students to thrive in an educational environment.

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