How to address the teacher shortage

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In CTA’s recent survey of more than 4,600 educators statewide, these were the top four words teachers and other classroom educators chose to best describe what it’s like to teach in this moment.

I can feel those words. Those of you who have been teachers can feel these words. We also remember some of the conditions that produced these feelings.

The survey, “Voices in the Classroom: Teaching in the Golden State” (conducted in partnership with UCLA’s Center for the Transformation of Schools and Hart Research Associates, focused on retention and recruitment issues for teachers as the state grapples with severe teacher shortages.

While teachers find their jobs rewarding, many are in dire need of more resources, pay, support and respect. Working conditions are a major factor in teachers leaving the profession – workloads continue to rise and class sizes continue to grow, contributing to additional stress and higher burnout .

As always, educators know what needs fixing and how to fix it. Survey respondents were clear about what state and local policymakers should prioritize now to attract and retain teachers. Nearly 90% said better pay is the biggest driver of teacher retention. This is followed by better staffing and more manageable workloads; reduce class size; and stronger disciplinary policies and more student support programs, which included access to counselors and mental health professionals.

Our survey also aimed to understand the role of diversity and inclusion in teacher retention and recruitment. The findings among teachers of color were significant and discouraging, and we cannot ignore them. We also looked at barriers to entry into the profession, especially for aspiring teachers of color. Financial stress, student loans, excessive testing and bureaucracy add to the burden on student teachers.

The shortage of teachers is a crisis for our students and for all of us. We must come together to address this at all levels of our system, from the legislature to the classroom. The four priorities identified by educators in our survey are clear and achievable.

With these questions in mind, the November election is fast approaching and more than ever, it is important to elect candidates who are running to support public education.

“The four priorities identified by educators in our survey are clear and achievable.”

We need to re-elect Tony Thurmond as Superintendent of Public Instruction. Thurmond has a solid record of accomplishments, including substantial efforts to address the shortage of educators. With Proposition 28, we have the opportunity to invest nearly $1 billion in new funding for arts and music programs, which have been neglected for far too long and to the detriment of all California students. In our Election section, you can find all CTA voting recommendations, as well as approved CTA members running for local school boards.

This is my last year as President of CTA. I remain excited for the future of public education and the incredible work we can do together. That’s why we’ve launched a new statewide organizing plan to help strengthen local CTA chapters. CTA’s organizing plan includes new tools and resources to support organizing chapters and school sites, as we all stand for the quality public education our students deserve and the respect and support every educator needs to do his job well. Rest assured that CTA will work tirelessly to provide you with the support and solutions you need to do your job and be satisfied doing it.

E. Toby Boyd
CTO PRESIDENT
@etobyboyd

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