The American Federation of Teacher’s National Teacher and School Staff Shortage Task Force has released a report describing solutions to better support educators.
The report, Here Today, Gone Tomorrow?, discusses increasing salaries and benefits, diversifying the educator workforce, lowering class sizes, limiting the nation's obsession with standardized testing, and reducing endless paperwork.
“Teachers and school staff have been struggling for years with a lack of professional respect; inadequate support and resources; subpar compensation; untenable student loan debt; endless paperwork; and a culture of blame that weaponizes standardized tests to attack public schools and public school teachers,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “And then came COVID. The pandemic, combined with the political culture wars, made the last two years the toughest in modern times for educators. On top of all of that, the unthinkable happened again, when gun violence took the lives of 19 students and two teachers in Uvalde, Texas.”
Even before the pandemic, nearly 300,000 teachers were leaving the profession each year, and schools were also facing persistent shortages among school support staff.
“We don’t know exactly how many of those considering leaving education actually will leave,” said Weingarten. “But we do know that when asked, ‘Would you recommend the profession to a prospective new teacher?’—74 percent of teachers would most likely not recommend it. We need to reverse these numbers and address the root causes that are driving so many talented staff and educators away from this profession when they have never been needed more. That’s why the AFT convened this task force—what’s probably the most important task force in our history—because no one knows better where the problems lie, and how to fix them, than the people who work in schools every day. They can guide us to solutions—if policymakers will listen.”