ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – Some are calling it a crisis: teachers at the end of their rope, quitting in the middle of the year. In many cases, their students are left with long-term substitutes. Teachers gave KRQE News 13 some insight into the harsh realities of working in a classroom these days. While they’re hopeful the governor and legislature will bring relief, many just can’t take it anymore. “Workload is a huge issue,” said Tanya Kuhnee, an English teacher at Eldorado High School. “We’re in buildings that are literally crumbling,” said Sean Thomas, a government and psychology teacher at Eldorado High. New Mexico teachers are not afraid to talk about the difficulties they face every day. “If you ask people in general, what do you think about teachers? The overall feedback tends to be very negative, and that gets hard to hear,” said Kuhnee. Now, many teachers, are giving up “We lose 50 percent of teachers within the first three years that they enter the job,” said Thomas. According to Albuquerque Public Schools (APS), the biggest district in the state, 560 teachers have left since August. Of those, 83 have retired. A good number of those – 41 – left just three months into the school year. Both Rio Rancho and Santa Fe school districts have lost about 40 teachers since school started. While APS says the numbers are typical, the union says it highlights a growing problem. “I’ve seen a lot of really capable teachers who still have a lot of years ahead of them just say, that’s it, I quit,” said Ellen Bernstein, President of the Albuquerque Teachers Federation. Bernstein says it’s at a crisis level. “There are thousands of kids throughout the state who are being taught by subs,” said Bernstein. One of the biggest issues, teachers say, is lack of respect. Other big issues include pay, workload, the high stakes testing, and educational resources. “How do you teach government when the last president was 15 years ago in the book?” said Kuhnee. According to a study done by New Mexico State College of Education, teacher attractiveness in New Mexico is rated a “2” on a scale of 1 to 5. However, educators who have stuck it out say with the new leadership in Santa Fe, they’re optimistic. “I have hope for the future, I think things are going to get better,” said Kuhnee. The Teachers Union is working to identify new ways of attracting teachers. They’ve created the “Educators Rising” mentorship program, encouraging high school students to pursue careers in public education. Atrisco Heritage, Eldorado High, and Manzano High School have similar programs. In her State of the State address, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced she wants to see a 10 percent pay increase for educators, a $12 minimum wage for educational assistants, and $5 million for classroom supplies this legislative session.
Hundreds of New Mexico teachers quitting mid-year
PLEASE READ AND UNDERSTAND OUR EDUCATIONAL SYSTEM IS IN CRISIS:
Halfway through the school year, Florida’s public schools need to hire 2,217 teachers to fill open jobs in classrooms across the state, a sign of Florida’s growing teacher shortage, according to the statewide teacher’s union.
State schools had 700 more teacher vacancies this month than at the same time last year, with openings in nearly all subjects, from high school math to middle school civics to every elementary school grade, said Cathy Boehme, a legislative specialist with the Florida Education Association, the statewide teachers union.
“All students deserve well-prepared, skilled teachers,” she told the State Board of Education, meeting Wednesday in Pensacola. “We’re falling farther and farther behind.”
In Central Florida, school district websites currently list dozens and dozens of open teacher jobs, including about 35 in Orange County. Those openings include a spot for a physics teacher at Oak Ridge High School, a math teacher at Blankner K-8 School and a fourth-grade teacher at Millennia Elementary School.
Boehme said “there are open positions all over the state” and urged the board to push legislative leaders to provide more money that can be used for teacher pay. “If we want our field to be competitive, we have to address funding,” she said.
Her comments echoed those of Malcolm Thomas, superintendent of Escambia County schools. “There’s not enough teachers on the bench, and the bench we have is not deep enough to meet our needs,” he told the board. “We’re going to have to work together to find solutions to those problems.”
Some board members agreed. Michael Olenick said tackling the issue, and offering suggestions to the Florida Legislature, was one of his top priorities. “How do we attract and retain highly qualified teachers?”
Florida schools have been wrestling with a teacher shortage for the past several years,when they began noting an alarming shortage of elementary school teachers. Florida’s universities used to graduate all the new elementary school instructors they needed but enrollment in education colleges has dropped and that is no longer true.
The search for instructors for traditionally hard-to-fill jobs — math teachers and those who work with children with disabilities, among others — has gotten tougher, too.
Many educators say Florida’s problem is relatively low pay. Its usually in the bottom 10 when the states are ranked by average teacher pay. Low pay coupled with the state’s controversial 2011 teacher merit-pay law, which tied teacher evaluations to student test scores, have soured many people’s views of the teaching profession — and led some teachers to leave long before retirement.
Boehme also spoke to the state board in August, telling members Florida public schools had more than 4,000 openings in the two weeks before school started, 1,000 more than the prior year.
Wednesday, she told members schools are also scrambling to hire enough teacher’s aides who help out in classrooms, with low pay an issue there, too. “Please address the funding issue,” she said.
The teacher disparity in pay teeters on the tip of the iceberg. How American culture treats teachers, through entitled parents, social media and lack of support from administrators, is the deplorable underbelly of this glacial mass.
I was pleased to read the article from the Wall Street Journal “Teachers Quit Jobs at Highest Rate on Record.” Not pleased by the statistics, but instead appreciative someone finally understands the downward spiral of our educational system begins with the absence of dedicated and skilled educators. The article stated “puny pay raises, frustration about school budgets and improving prospects elsewhere — thanks to the tighter labor market — as key reasons for their departures.” I beg to differ!
Truth: educators do not commit their passion to teach believing untold wealth awaits them. The purposely concealed story: our nation’s teacher shortage is due to a dominating hostile work environment, created by the very people educators serve. The teacher disparity in pay teeters on the tip of the iceberg. How American culture treats teachers, through self-indulging students, entitled parents, social media and lack of support from ill-prepared administrators, is the deplorable underbelly of this glacial mass. Who better to elevate the conversation for positive change than a 46 year veteran teacher who taught in three states,15 schools, 23 classrooms,17 grade levels and educated over 6000 students? So You Think You Wanna Teach! is the title of my memoir, which will be published this year. Through decades of both heart wrenching and heart inspiring experiences, I propose real solutions to halt teacher degradation.
from The Wall Street Journal
This is a great article but one element is missing: the hostile work environment educators face everyday! I wrote back to the WSJ in hopes they may like to print the real story. Stay tuned! -Paula Baack
By Michelle Hackman and
Dec. 28, 2018 5:30 a.m. ET
Teachers and other public education employees, such as community-college faculty, school psychologists and janitors, are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record, government data shows.
A tight labor market with historically low unemployment has encouraged Americans in a variety of occupations to quit their jobs at elevated rates, with the expectation they can find something better. But quitting among public educators stands out because the field is one where stability is viewed as a key perk and longevity often rewarded.
The educators may be finding new jobs at other schools, or leaving education altogether: The departures come alongside protests this year in six states where teachers in some cases shut down schools over tight budgets, small raises and poor conditions.
In the first 10 months of 2018, public educators quit at an average rate of 83 per 10,000 a month, according to the Labor Department. While that is still well below the rate for American workers overall—231 voluntary departures per 10,000 workers in 2018—it is the highest rate for public educators since such records began in 2001.
Sara Jorve, 43 years old, protested alongside other Oklahoma teachers last spring for better pay and classroom conditions. But the fifth-grade math and science instructor in Oklahoma quit in May after a dozen years in the profession. Ms. Jorve, a single mother, said her pay was so meager she was forced to rely on her parents for financial assistance.
In the summer, she returned to school to become a cardiovascular ultrasound technician.
“I had to quit for my sanity,” she said.
The rising number of departures among public education workers is in contrast with 2009, when the economy was first emerging from a deep recession. Then, the rate was just 48 per 10,000 public education workers, a record low.
“During the recession, education was a safe place to be,” said Julia Pollak, labor economist at ZipRecruiter.
That year, the unemployment rate touched 10%, the highest since the 1980s. This year, the jobless rate fell to 3.7%, the lowest reading since 1969. That has created very different incentives for teachers and their public education colleagues.
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“It’s a more boring place now, and they see their friends finding exciting opportunities,” Ms. Pollak said.
School districts have reported since at least 2015 having trouble finding enough qualified teachers to fill open slots, leading more states to open up temporary teaching jobs to people with no official training, according to the Learning Policy Institute, a nonpartisan education-policy research group. The rate at which qualified teachers are leaving the profession is likely to exacerbate that trend.
In the 12 months ended in October, one million workers quit public-education positions, according to the most recent Labor Department data. More than 10 million Americans work in the field.
While the private-sector labor market largely shook off the recession years ago, teachers and other school workers are still feeling the effects. Funding for public education in several states hasn’t yet recovered from cuts during the downturn.
In at least 12 states, public education budgets are down at least 7% from 2009 levels, adjusted for inflation, according to an analysis of census data by the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Teacher pay across the country, adjusted for inflation, is now 5% lower than it was in 2009, according to data from the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teachers union.
Wages and salaries for public-education workers rose 2.2% in the third quarter from a year earlier, not adjusting for inflation. That matched the largest annual raise in nearly a decade, but was still well below the 3.1% annual increase in pay private-sector workers received in the third quarter, according to the Labor Department.
Tensions over inadequate pay and per-pupil funding levels came to a head in 2018 during statewide protests, in some cases shutting classrooms for as many as nine school days. The strikes produced modest gains in the states where they occurred—teachers in Arizona, West Virginia and Oklahoma all received raises—but they also popularized images of dilapidated textbooks and school rooms and portraits of teachers who took on odd jobs to make ends meet.
Some lawmakers pushed back against larger pay increases for teachers because it would have required raising taxes or diverting funds from other state priorities, such as roads or law enforcement.
Education-policy analysts say the pressures the protests brought to light also drove many more educators to quit.
“Part of it was compensation,” said Alice Cain, executive vice president of Teach Plus, a policy organization working with a network of 26,000 teachers. “But part of this was that their students weren’t valued, and that the public education system in our country isn’t a priority in so many places.”
Write to Michelle Hackman at Michelle.Hackman@wsj.com and Eric Morath at email@example.com