INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (NETWORK INDIANA): The National Education Association reports that teacher shortages continue to pose a challenge as we enter the new school year. According to NEA President Becky Pringle, the pandemic exacerbated these shortages.
“As we transition out of the pandemic, we know from the survey that NEA did, we found that 55% of educators were planning on leaving the profession,” she said. “When we dug into those numbers and looked at our teachers of color, particularly our Black teachers, it went over 60%, and that’s going in the wrong direction.”
Pringle cites respect as one of the main reasons teachers leave their profession. According to the Indiana Department of Education, as of last week, there were still more than 1,170 open teaching positions in the state and 1,300 other open positions within schools.
“For them, that meant professional pay for their work,” she said. “That meant professional respect to make teaching and learning decisions for their students. And for them, that meant everyone helping to meet the growing needs students brought to school.”
Pringle mentions that while morale amongst teachers has improved, many still feel overwhelmed by the profession’s responsibilities.
“As educators, we’ve always stood in gaps, whatever that is,” she said. “If they were hungry, we were feeding them; if they didn’t have a backpack, we were buying them ourselves and filling them with supplies; that’s what we’ve done forever, but because of the pandemic and all of the crises that it’s spawned, it just made those gaps so much bigger.”
Pringle stated that children are often used as political pawns in cultural wars and book banning.
“People who haven’t taught a day in a classroom are telling us as professionals what is best for our students, and making teaching and learning decisions without our professional input has weighed heavily on educators,” she added.
Pringle said that the NEA is building a movement with parents nationwide that children receive the best education possible.