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November 17, 2021

Teacher Shortage Causing School Cancellations

This labor shortage is completely out of control, and kids are the ones hurting.

In five states last week, schools had to make it a short week by canceling classes, using Veterans Day as an excuse. In truth, these cancellations occurred not because of any particular reverence for those who served in the Armed Forces but because of a lack of teachers. These unexpected days off threw parents for a loop as they scrambled to figure out childcare, giving them flashbacks to last year’s lockdowns. But parents are not the only ones who have some post-traumatic stress regarding shutdowns and quarantines. Teachers have also had a lot to cope with since the COVID regulations forced them into remote teaching. This constant cycle of survival mode has not stopped over the last year and a half, and the stain is starting to show.

Teachers have some of the highest burnout rates in the workforce, and that was before the global pandemic threw a wrench into things. There are many reasons for this. One of the biggest is that working with children and teaching them is a calling, a ministry, and a work of heart. If a teacher is in an environment where he or she is not properly supported materially, mentally, or emotionally, it makes an already challenging job unbearable. The pandemic and its constantly moving goalposts really didn’t help matters.

A lot of teachers are Type A planners. When the schedules are volatile and the rules regarding COVID keep changing, that creates a major stressor. There is only so much flexibility teachers can take, especially when their usual modus operandi is so disrupted. They cannot give their best under these conditions, particularly when online learning in rife with student cheating that undermines teaching.

Many teachers are mothers. If their child has the sniffles or some other sickness, this can keep them out of their jobs for days or even weeks due to the hyper-vigilance of the new COVID precautions. At the beginning of last school year, merely being exposed to a person infected with COVID was enough to demand two weeks worth of quarantining. This is extremely stressful on the teacher, whether it be from worrying about their own sick child, or from having to remotely plan for a substitute teacher to ensure their students don’t fall behind.

As if that weren’t enough pressure, teachers are now having to cope with differing philosophies that have slowly invaded the pedagogy. Teachers are being told to treat their students differently based on skin color and to constantly adjust the academic standards based on equity. Many teachers are speaking out against this ideology in the classroom. Some have even quit in defiance of having to teach this racist doctrine. Then there are the unisex bathrooms, LGBTQ+ books ranging from ridiculous to pornographic, and even school administrators and counselors concealing a child’s “transition.” Finally, the teachers unions are playing politics with their dues and further contributing to school closures. No wonder teachers are quitting.

This last issue has become even more important as we experience rising inflation. Teachers’ pay is, in general, not very good, especially at the elementary school level. With the government granting stimulus checks, child tax credits, and eviction moratoriums, it takes away the incentive to work. If these teachers are young mothers anyway, they are much more likely to prefer part-time work-from-home jobs than to go back to the classroom. No one goes into teaching for the fortune and fame, but when you add in all the other factors listed above, a part-time job that potentially pays just as much as a full-time teaching job is extremely appealing.

The biggest issue of all is that this labor shortage isn’t limited to teachers. Other workers such as school janitors, cafeteria workers, and bus drivers are also leaving their positions. Some for better-paying jobs, some because it simply pays better (or at least well enough) to be unemployed right now because the government supplies the paycheck. In this current dangerous economic climate, the government is torpedoing the chances at a quick recovery at every turn. This is just the latest in the butterfly effect of bad economic policy.

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