Burned out: Tackling the teacher shortage crisis
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The U.S. teachers shortage could be getting worse.

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A recent from the National Education Association (NEA) showed that more than half of teachers (55%) intend to leave the profession earlier than they planned. The Defender asked teachers why they were leaving, or contemplating leaving, the job they once loved.  

I just got out…like July 5th. I just didn’t love it any longer. I loved my ‘nieces and nephews’ in high school, but they gave me 4 different courses, which is A LOT, and I’d never taught 3 of them. That’s stressful and they thought it was ok. It wasn’t. The last person in my department they gave 4 different class subjects to retired. And that’s what I told them when I left…those courses were not divided equitably even though you had more than 2 teachers able to teach those courses.

Bridgette Wilkins

I left due to Covid-19. I was in a high contact class, self-contained special education class and in the fall of 2020, HISD had published no satisfactory room plan and I had asked all summer from campus to district level supervisor. I became personally ill 3 days prior to return to campus and I resigned because my significant other had long haul Covid-19. HISD tried to have my teaching certificate revoked by TEA due to a late resignation. The investigator called and I sent my documentation and TEA called me back and said, ‘You’re good be safe’.”

HrH Gold

There are two things that no educator wants to experience: A child DYING and a child LYING. I had to constantly endure horrific lies told by a student because she was really covering up for what was happening at home and crying out for help. No educator wants to be put in a situation where it is your word against a student. I had lost so much working in this field because of crooked and dishonest admin. After the Uvalde TX incident where those teachers and students were killed, that was when I realized that that the only thing left to take was my life.

That finally did it for me. I am writing this in tears because I love teaching. But teaching stopped being fun. Now it’s work. Dreadful, stressful, grueling work.

Davinia Gordon

After teaching exceptional education for 37 years, I decided that it was time to leave. The amount of paperwork was increasing, too many behavior issues with students and parents, people that were not in the classroom telling me how to teach. I even went to the principal my last year and asked her if I was being ‘punked’ the school year. I just got too tired to fight anymore. However, I returned the following school year as a substitute/tutor. It is now 9 years later and I am still a substitute/tutor only because I don’t have to deal with all the other stuff! I can go home and relax each day!

– Stephanie Heard

The pay doesn’t match the trauma these teachers endure from these disrespectful unruly kids … & the parents don’t make it better. They are right there with their kid. The behavior starts in Kinder & doesn’t end. It’s not worth it to these teachers anymore. Then you gotta add all the regulations, what you can & can’t do. NOT WORTH THE STRESS AND DEPRESSION.

Sarai Phoenix Rose

Start with the under-qualified amount of administration. John got promoted to the board, pulled his wife in to take his principal position he just left although she had been a guidance counselor. She turns around and pulled in her bestie although she had been a cafeteria worker, she’s now vice principal. Then the students have a sense of entitlement they brought from home, but don’t discipline them because mama will come to the school to fight. A pandemic happens: teachers pack up and teach from home, no, come back but still teach from your laptop but wait, do both virtual and in school. I was 23 years in, time to live my best life.

Candy Jackson

18 years in, planning to leave as soon as possible. The community expects the schools to do everything and the parents to do nothing. We are clothing them, feeding them, providing mental health, social skills etc. It’s hard to be good at one thing (education)when there are 500 things on our plate. There’s no accountability for anyone but the schools. None for the parents, kids, community, social services/CPS, church, court system etc. We are underpaid and under appreciated and it’s physically and mentally draining. It’s actually starting to affect my health and I’m over it

Overton DeNae

Teaching has become a holding place. Students are not being held to academic standards. We are forced to pass and push these unprepared babies up and out. The only concern is presentation. The board dictates unrealistic expectations, Admin wants ratings, Parents want silent sitters, and sports, scholarships, and students want to act grown with child-like consequences. We are definitely missing education holistically and it’s sad

Robin Minniefield

After 13 years, a doctorate, and countless certificates I got tired of arguing with people about what was best for children. I got tired of being passed over for promotions in favor of “yes men”. I had seven years of admin experience and four in the classroom. My principal had two years of classroom experience and they told me 8 was not qualified. I got tired of being belittled for knowing that having 25 pre-k students, 10 of whom have obvious behavioral issues with no aide is a problem. I got tired of spending my own money to buy basic things like pencils, markers, folders, and decorations for my class. If it weren’t for my friends who have donated shoes, coats, clothing, books, dictionaries, I wouldn’t have been able to do it. I got tired of being told that I could not fail children who did NO work. I got tired of being evaluated by people who had never looked at a child development chart. I could write a whole dissertation. I absolutely loved education, loved coaching and developing teachers, loved bringing out the best in kids, but I got tired of fighting a system that is not designed to teach our children to do anything other than be mediocre.

DrIrileria Muhammad

Taught for 15 years. Now in school district HR. Recruiting is terrifying. Candidates walk in the door and we are circling like sharks. One of our larger long-term universities only had 2 students join the education program last year. There will have to be some major changes or restructuring to keep this ship from sinking.

Joi Bailey Green

After 32 years, I had enough with disrespect from students, parents and the bureaucratic entities in the school system! I was assaulted, cursed out and disrespected. I knew that for my sanity, it was time to leave. Although, I had given so much of myself and my time to this profession, I realized that it was no longer about doing what was really best for the students

Pamela Sabrina Smith