Rural school districts outside of Phoenix can’t find enough qualified teachers, especially in math and science, to double their 13 classes, some with 70+ students. Some of these classes have teaching her assistants, while others rely on her one teacher.
“It’s very chaotic,” said Brady. “I wish I could clone myself because I can’t reach every child who needs help.”
Located between Phoenix and Tucson, Casa Grande has struggled to find teachers for years and hires about 30 Filipinos each year to fill the gap. But that alarming trend has reached a more dire point. District spokesperson Jennifer Colsen says she’s never seen a shortage like this in her 29 years here.
“It’s really sad to start the school year with so many empty seats,” Kotzen said. “We posted it, went to job fairs, but no teachers so far.”
After enduring two years of pandemic-induced health concerns, learning losses, and intense public scrutiny, teacher burnout is on the rise across the country.
Jennifer Zanardi quit her high school teaching job in Palm Beach, Florida to become a corporate recruiter. She says her relatively low salary was a big factor, but political pressure and the state’s so-called “don’t say gay” bill were the tipping points. I found myself walking on egg shells.
“The public was actually saying that teachers were trying to indoctrinate their students,” Zanardi said. “It had a huge impact on my mental health and my stress.”
Enrollment in teacher education programs has also plummeted, dropping 33% from 2010 to 2020, according to the American Association of Teacher Training Colleges.
Schools are competing for a shrinking pool of teachers, with wealthier suburbs beating out schools with fewer resources, especially those in rural areas and those that support lower-income families and students of color. .
“(Teachers) don’t go to the most disadvantaged schools,” said Chad Aldeman, policy director for Georgetown University’s Pedagogical Institute. “The same schools that struggled in 2019 are doing even worse in 2022.”
In Prince George’s County, Maryland, where the poorest are concentrated, at least 8% of teacher slots in public school districts are vacant, according to the teachers’ union, more than double last year.
Dr. Donna Christy, president of the Prince George’s County Educators Association, is vying to fill this gap.
“It definitely feels like there was an Exodus,” Christie said. , where they feel they have more support or hear there is more support.”
Geva Hickman-Johnson, an English teacher at a Prince George County high school, found she needed to prepare lessons for a new substitute teacher in her department. She also expects her class size to increase.
“That means my students may not get the best teachers this year,” Hickman-Johnson said. , you may not be at your best because you can’t really focus on the student standing in front of you every day…it’s hard…”
In addition to the loss of learning during the pandemic, many teachers across the country are also noticing deterioration in student behavior. When many students need more attention, Christy fears they will get less.
“They had fallen through the cracks before,” she said.
Like many school districts, Prince George County public schools are now scrambling to fill these empty classrooms, moving staff, increasing subsidies, and consolidating classes as needed.
Some plans have been controversial, but the state is getting creative to fill vacancies. I’m looking for
“It was a slap in the face,” said Jennifer Zanardi. “Your education doesn’t matter, just like it doesn’t matter what you do. Anyone can do what you do. And that’s not quite true. We are professionals.”
The Casa Grande Elementary School District is one of many schools that have moved to a four-day week to keep staff. This strategy allowed us to maintain multiple teachers.
High school districts are considering hiring teachers from abroad.In some classrooms, para-educators with no expertise in the topic teach lessons prepared by certified teachers like Stacey Brady. .
“I’m thinking of myself,” said Brady. “I was struggling with math. If I was sitting in that classroom, I needed help, I had a question, and I needed someone to break it down in a different way.) Shut it down. Many I think the students of the school might shut down as well.”
Brady expects to lead a class of 70+ students, if not for the full year. She worries that Casa Her Grande’s lack of teachers will get worse.
“I think my biggest fear is having a child who is emotionally or physically hurt in some way. “There are so many students in the room that I can’t see it.”