The Jetstream Journal

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We Don’t Have Enough Teachers!

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Sure, Air Academy High School might have its fair share of teachers, but the U.S. is facing a nationwide crisis. Qualified, passionate, good teachers are in short supply, and the demand for them is only growing. But why are we running out?

Because teachers aren’t happy, and they’re not getting any happier. “One 2013 poll found that teacher satisfaction had declined 23 percentage points since 2008, from 62 percent to 39 percent very satisfied, the lowest level in 25 years.”

This teacher dissatisfaction is due to several factors: low wages (an average starting annual salary for teachers is barely over $36,000, startlingly low considering the average U.S. wage for high school graduates without a diploma, over $37,000) versus  wages in other jobs involving their field, especially pursuits in science and math; lack of respect from students, especially for younger teachers and those instructing high school students; and the alarming (and unjustified) trend of teachers being held responsible and blamed by parents for problems with other students or the school.

In addition, curriculum is often so strict and inflexible that teachers feel powerless; for people who go into teaching to share their knowledge with a new generation, being forced to spit out a pre-written speech on a boring topic no one in the room cares about can crush his or her enthusiasm. Many classrooms are also often under-equipped, forcing already-struggling teachers to put their own resources into buying simple supplies, like pencils and paper, or to fund projects themselves.

“I always have to spend my own money [on school supplies],” said Ms. Lyttle, performing arts teacher.

These stresses have forced many would-be instructors out of their professions; nearly half of all teachers transfer out of their current school or quit within five years.

But of course, this isn’t a distant problem. Colorado’s teaching attractiveness rating is an embarrassingly low 2 out of 10. The starting wage is lower, too, at around $32,000 a year. There are more teachers compared to students (one of my classes has nearly 60 for two teachers; even if they split the class size, that’s still 30 students each!) than other states, more teachers concerned about job security due to testing, more inexperienced teachers–and, startlingly, nearly 10% more unqualified teachers than the national average. And, of course, this has significant negative effects on the education students receive.

Where’s the solution, then? How can we fix this?

First off is the issue of money. Surprisingly enough, teachers’ reasons for leaving their jobs often have little to do with pay; however, unless districts allocate more funding to classroom resources, teachers will be forced to either buy things they shouldn’t have to struggle to afford, or neglect kids who need supplies. Putting more money into both schools and teachers’ pockets will help negate this issue.

Secondly is the issue of respect, both from parents and their children. In this day and age, parents find themselves with no way to communicate with their districts and get involved with their kids’ educations, so when their kids suffer from flaws in the education system, they have no one else to blame but the teachers. That isn’t fair! Teachers by and large do the best they can with what they’re given. And students . . . Our teachers spend hours grading papers and preparing lessons outside of school. The least we can do is try to listen when they teach us in school, even if it’s boring.

In fact, teachers can often find themselves as bored with the curriculum as we are. This is an issue that can bother teachers, regardless of subject taught. The district, the state, and even the federal government all have their hands in classrooms, telling instructors what to do, what to teach, and how to do it. With all the control taken out of their hands, teachers can end up feeling frustrated with the material they’re forced to copy and paste from distant documents they never agreed to. Giving them a say in the curriculum and bringing in real teachers to formulate standardized lesson plans puts the power back in their hands and gives them the freedom they deserve and need to give students the best and most thorough education possible.

Teachers don’t just drill information into our heads. Oftentimes, they’re the people who help us grow: they believe in us, even if no one else does. Without them, how will we get high-quality educations? How will we learn to be adults? We’re running out of them, and fast.

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1 Comment

One Response to “We Don’t Have Enough Teachers!”

  1. Brad Boyle on March 15th, 2018 5:33 pm

    Insightful points in this article.

    [Reply]

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We Don’t Have Enough Teachers!