“We can’t invent educators out of thin air:” Teachers say staffing shortages remain high

The National Education Association (NEA) says they are still in dire need of teachers and substitutes, but they saw increase in other departments such mental health counselors.

Educators say minority teachers are leaving at higher rates compared to others and they’re starting to see new staffing trends like more mid-career teachers leaving the classroom as well. NEA says those are the mentors in schools, and often the ones who help new teachers.

“We can’t invent educators out of thin air,” Sobia sheikh, math teacher for Mukilteo School District in Washington.

>> CPSC warns parents to stop using Leachco infant loungers

From coast to coast, educators say they need help.

“Our teachers are parents, our instructional assistants are parents, they’re all feeling the stress that they’re carrying outside of our walls and within our walls and it is exhausting,” said Stacy Tayman, human resources associate for Calvert County Public Schools in Maryland.

National Education Association says the number of teachers quitting and retiring early has leveled out after spike during 2020 but they say the ratio between new hires and openings is hitting new lows.

NEA says fewer teachers, food workers and bus drivers were hired last fall when compared to pre-pandemic school years.

Teachers like Sheikh said they need more respect and better pay to stay in the classroom.

“Paying us that what we deserve because, yes, we’re here for students. Yes, we’re here for families and communities but at the end of the day, we’re also trying to make a living for our own families,” said Sheikh.

>> Area departments awarded thousands of dollars in state grants for body-warn camera programs

The organization says some states like California, Maryland and Colorado are increasing salaries and in Iowa, substitutes are getting higher wages and benefits.

But NEA’s President said teachers still need more support.

“If we don’t address the wellbeing of educators, then the wellbeing of our students will suffer, their learning their growth and development and how whether or not they will thrive,” said Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association.

NEA is also pushing for districts to provide emergency sick leave for COVID relate absences and paid family leave for all staff.