US must work to combat teacher shortage

Alayna Pellegrin

For decades educators have been leaving the profession, but it wasn’t until recently that the U.S. noticed it is suffering from a nationwide teacher shortage. 

According to an article by Think Impact, public schools employed 3,808,920 teachers in 2020 and 3,214,673 teachers in 2021. That is a decline of roughly half a million teachers. 

Disruptions to education during the pandemic have turned people away from pursuing the career, which was already struggling to maintain recruits. 

Teacher burnout, low pay and added restrictions have also been substantial reasons for this shortage. 

It is time to hold administrators accountable for the working conditions of their employees and for governors and education commissioners to lead the pack in ending the U.S. teacher shortage.

Teachers struggle to help students recover from the pandemic while also juggling the overwhelming stress of trying to keep classes running. This pressure is counterproductive and can lead to burnout. 

Burnt-out teachers tend to be less committed to their job, which can negatively affect their students. 

Increasing teacher preparation will help to limit the effects of burnout. Just as students who study for exams tend to score higher, teachers who know how to prepare for class also teach better. 

According to the National Center of Education Statistics, the average salary for a public school teacher in the United States in 2021 was $65,090, and the average starting salary is under $45,000. 

With such low pay, teachers will be less likely to have a strong work ethic. Increasing compensation for teachers will not only attract more people to the field of education but also help current educators.

A constant influx of new policies and laws restrict what teachers can teach. 

For example, Texas passed a bill in 2021 limiting the extent of what can be taught about race, gender and the discrimination different groups have faced in the U.S.

Educators today must follow a script when they teach. They can no longer actively teach their lessons in a way that motivates them and their students. 

Instead, teachers must focus on whether what they say will get them in trouble with board members, the district or even the state.

The pandemic and changing politics have left teachers feeling overworked and undervalued. 

The U.S. needs to battle this shortage by improving teacher preparation, increasing compensation, strengthening hiring practices and improving teachers’ working conditions.