Less People Are Becoming Teachers, And Current Teachers Are Quitting: Here’s Why

Less People Are Becoming Teachers, And Current Teachers Are Quitting: Here’s Why

Eva Popescu, Staff Writer

As the school year is half over and summer break is getting closer, one big issue remains. There is and has been a teacher shortage occurring throughout the country. Even though there is no national teacher shortage so to say, “nearly half (45%) of public schools have at least one vacant teaching position.” This information is based upon the latest School Pulse Panel survey done in October. This is not commonly talked about or known and many people do not have any background information on the topic. Eleanor, a student at Harrison High School, stated that she was “surprised to find out about the teacher shortage.” She believes that “it is important for many teachers to be present in schools in order for students to be able to learn better. If a teacher gets sick, for example, this should not cause a student’s education to have to come to a pause. Rather someone else should be available to take their place for the time being.” This is an excellent observation but sadly, due to the lack of staffing in some schools, it is not possible. 

So what led to this teacher shortage? Many have asked this question and the answer lies in several different places. The first reason for more teachers quitting is the low salary and heavy workloads given to them. Teachers work an average of 52 hours a week for an average salary of only $55,873. The salary can vary according to diplomas and previous studies done by said educator. Another reason for the teacher shortage are health and safety concerns. With the pandemic hitting, teachers had to deal with their own personal safety and the safety of their students, which in turn caused them to have a high level of stress. The third reason that will be mentioned in this article is the fact that the teaching profession has lost its prestige. To be doing a job that is not deemed as important as other jobs can be very demotivational. The last important reason leading to the teacher shortage is the fact that teachers are not given the right resources to properly perform their jobs. These resources can come in the form of advice, help, or just necessary materials for the classroom. All these factors put together push people away from this profession as no one wishes to be working in such conditions.


So how does this affect students?


The effects of the teacher shortage has led to many challenges for students, especially for children in high-poverty schools; something that studies and estimates sometimes fail to demonstrate. One of the challenges that arose due to the teacher shortage was the growth of class sizes. This negatively impacts students as the teacher can not give them the individualized help or attention they might seek. This leads to more behavioral problems and lower academic performances from the students. The decline in students’ academic performances and achievements is one of the most unsettling repercussions of the teacher shortage.  In a January 2022 study published by the Annenberg Institute at Brown University, “test scores of 5.4 million third to eighth graders showed changes. Both reading and math scores dropped significantly” (Heytutor). Furthermore, higher poverty schools have a 15%-20% wider gap in the reading and mathematical proficiencies of the students compared to low-poverty schools. This happens in high-poverty schools as teachers do not wish to work there, especially not qualified ones. As the number of working teachers is already low in the country, there are not a lot of them that are qualified, able, and willing to teach high-poverty schools. The last effect of the teacher shortage for students that will be discussed in this article is the diminution of specialized school programs. “The U.S. Secretary of Education has issued a call to action to address vacancies in areas like bilingual Spanish-English education; science, math, and technology programs; and career and technical tracks” (Heytutor). Special education has been revealed as having the highest number of teacher vacancies as of January 2022. This led to schools having to cut students from these programs that could greatly benefit them on a daily basis and for their future. 

The most important thing to understand and take with you from this article is that there is a teacher shortage occurring in the United States, whether we like it or not. To understand why and know more about the subject we have to look at the reasons that led to it, and how students are impacted daily. The causes of this issue mainly stem from the low salary and heavy workloads given to teachers, the health and safety concerns present in the classroom (especially after the pandemic), the teaching profession having lost its prestige, and the fact that teachers are not given the right resources to enable them to perform to the best of their abilities. This impacts students as it leads to an increase in behavioral problems, lower academic performances, and the diminution of specialized school programs. High-poverty schools are the most affected by all this and need all the help they can get. 


Photo :    Heytutor website