Starting in 2023, there has been a fundamental problem being reported in education for the United States. Just today, California State University saw its largest faculty walkout. The New York Times notes that thousands of professors at California State University have joined this strike for multiple reasons. This strike echoes a larger problem in American education for the past few years. Teachers everywhere in the country are feeling burned out from the low salaries to the lack of support from administration at work. Let’s take a deeper look into these problems and what will need to change for a better future for educators and students.
While many problems contribute to the teacher shortage, it’s important to see where it started. The “National Center for Education Statistics” reported that, “As of October 2022, 4 percent of all public-school teaching positions were vacant. The average public school had two vacant teaching positions. Eighteen percent of public schools had one teaching vacancy and 26 percent had multiple teaching vacancies” (NCES). Given this statistic, there is already a noticeable rise in teaching vacancies by October of 2022. This would show that the problem has only been growing since then. Problems from rising prices to lower salaries have affected the teaching shortage. The article also points to another problem that has been on the rise in education.
Moriah Balingit for The Washington Post found that, “In response to the pandemic, many states lowered job requirements, and schools increasingly relied on instructors with fewer qualifications. The data set has information about how many teachers are considered underqualified. They range from credentialed educators who are teaching out of their area of expertise to people with no credentials and, in some cases, no college education” (Balingit). Balingit points to another problem in American education currently. Not only are teachers leaving at a higher rate, but in their place, underqualified educators are taking their place. What makes this a problem is that there are not only current teachers who are teaching classes that they didn’t focus on in university.
Many educators are people who have never taught professionally and some even have no college degree in the field of education. This might all be adding up to something. The number of teaching vacancies has risen within the past two years. Teachers in America are fighting rising prices and low salaries. This is not to mention the stress from low wages and a rising economy. It’s becoming clearer that the pressures of teaching are becoming too much for former educators who genuinely love teaching. The addition of a lack of support from school administration causes educators to leave and find jobs with better support.
One website that agrees is called, “Elevate K-12”, a website for live teaching used to help support schools during a teacher shortage. A recent post on the website notes that, “the average annual salary for American elementary and high school teachers for 2021–22 was $69,480. This is significantly lower than the average annual salaries of other professions requiring a bachelor’s degree, such as accountants ($78,000) and registered nurses ($81,220)” (Elevate K-12). While this is not the entire issue, it shows a severe problem for educators in the United States. With the rising cost of living in the U.S, teachers can’t afford to be underpaid while also adding more responsibilities to them.
When all of these problems add up, it’s easy to see why teachers are starting to leave their jobs. For many educators, it seems that the students are rarely the biggest problem. What does seem to hurt more is that teachers are doing more for the job and getting paid less. Schools are trying to get by rising costs and low funding. When we look at all of the factors, it’s no surprise that the professors at California State University are striking to be paid more for doing more. Time can only tell whether school administrations can, or even will, decide to change the rise in teacher burnout. If not, it could create a dangerous future into the quality of education in the U.S. from teachers who are underpaid and overly stressed.
Action, E. I. (2023, December 15). What caused the teacher shortage?: Elevate K-12. Elevate K12. https://www.elevatek12.com/blog/elevate-in-action/why-is-there-a-teacher-shortage/
Balingit, M. (2023). Teacher shortages have gotten worse. here’s how schools are coping. The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/education/2023/08/24/teacher-shortages-pipeline-college-licenses/
Delarosa, J., & Robelen, E. (2023). Most public schools face challenges in hiring teachers and other personnel entering the 2023-24 academic year. Press Release - Most Public Schools Face Challenges in Hiring Teachers and Other Personnel Entering the 2023-24 Academic Year - October 17, 2023. https://nces.ed.gov/whatsnew/press_releases/10_17_2023.asp
Karlamangla, S. (2024, January 22). Cal State faculty begin largest U.S. strike of University Professors. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2024/01/22/us/csu-california-faculty-strike.html
Shipp, M. (2014). Teacher’s Pet. Flickr. Matthew Shipp. Retrieved 2024, from https://www.flickr.com/photos/mshipp/11900538294.
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