Schools are starting this school year with too few teachers to adequately do the job. I got a call asking if there was any way I could come back to work, even as a substitute teacher. But it just isn’t possible. I am still alive, but far short of well enough to teach for even a single day. And I have spent the entire week watching teachers on YouTube telling the world why they have quit. It’s complicated. I have watched teachers tell angry stories. I have watched teachers cry. I have watched teachers make jokes to keep from crying. And this isn’t just the same old thing about low pay for an extremely difficult job. Chuck Todd says the problem is a 280,000 teacher shortage nationwide.
Kids’ behavior is surly, rude, and out of control, but nobody explaining why they quit as a veteran teacher named this as the reason for leaving . They still love the kids. Nobody who becomes a teacher and lasts for more than five years does the job without at least secretly loving their students more than money, fame, and peace of mind. Realistically, if the kids don’t eat a teacher alive by the time five school years have passed, they secretly love that teacher too.
The biggest roadblock to veteran teachers in red States is interference from the radical MAGA governor who wants to burn some of their school library books and edit what words come out of the teacher’s mouth over things they have basically made up like, “Critical Race Theory,” “Don’f Say Gay ,” or “Sex is something that exists.” And this comes with additional threats at school board meetings, school assemblies, or sometimes even surrounding the teacher’s or administrator’s home with torches, signs, and AR-15s because MAGA parents don’t just get angry, they do something about it.
Another huge factor comes from the way that schools are funded… or not funded as is increasingly the case. Back when Rick (I’m smarter with glasses on) Perry was Emperor… err… Governor of Texas, he had a multi-billion-dollar rainy day fund at the same time when school districts in Texas were all suffering from a lack of funds. Rainy day, right? Not according to the Emperor… err… Governor. While he fiddled with presidential-run preparations, he let schools cut arts programs and lay off teachers and increase class sizes. Teachers were encouraged to pay for classroom supplies out of their own pockets. Teachers were required to do more with less.
And then there was the pandemic. My time as a substitute teacher came to an end as teaching became potentially a death sentence for me. My wife got the opportunity to teach kids by Zoom calls, and then teach both in the classroom and by Zoom calls at the same time… for which no additional pay was offered, though the added requirements for the teacher’s efforts were all mandatory.
So, education in America is in extreme crisis. You can go be a teacher if you have some college hours in any subject area. and you can be a substitute if you are still alive. I don’t know if they would accept a zombie or not.
And it looks like everybody is soon going to get everything they deserve… except teachers, of course.