New poll suggests there could be a shortage of educators next school year.
A new poll suggests even if schools resume their normal in-person activities, one in five teachers are unlikely to return. While most of the U.S. will go back to a ‘normal’ academic setting come fall, the online structure has led many educators to second-guess traditional classroom instruction.
The same poll found that teachers are working harder than usual to keep up with the new learning environment and “nearly two-thirds say they haven’t been able to properly do their jobs.” This has led to vast frustration that could mean a huge wave of resignations in the near future.
A second poll issued to parents with at least one child in grades K-12 found that “6 in 10 say they would be likely to pursue at-home learning options” instead of having their children to return to the classroom, and almost thirty-percent indicated they are “very likely” to make that transition.
Of course, if parents are interested in pursuing to at-home learning in the fall, this means teachers have to be on board, too, in order to meet demand. Since they’ve already indicated they’re second-guessing their chosen path because of the amount of work they’ve had to do amid the coronavirus, this could lead to long-term issues.
“The whole thing is overwhelming,” said Dan Weisberg, the head of the nonprofit TNTP, formerly known as The New Teacher Project, which helps districts recruit and hire more effective teachers. “This is where federal dollars could help. This is where state guidance could help. This is where galvanizing people behind the idea on how to plan for next year could help.” He added, “There is going to be attrition of teachers. And whatever challenges exist are going to be way worse if you’re not fully staffed.”
Some considerations districts are making include whether they should allow students to return full- or part-time and whether budgets allow for the technology needed to continue an at-home structure. Many districts have sent home surveys to parents asking if they would be willing to commit to the current environment long-term or if they would be able to support at-home learning at least part of the time.
There are, of course, challenges that would arise from maintaining the COVID-19 stay home structure come fall. For one, many parents need to work in order to continue supporting their children. Even as employers are embracing work-from-home flexibility, this is difficult to do when it’s expected that parents must also be educators. Another issue is that children’s socialization would be grossly limited, and this is a key component of development schools offer. Even with social media and other online options for students to interact, it’s not the same as it would be face-to-face. There are also many families who have limited or no access to technology, children with special needs, or rely on free lunches their schools have traditionally provided.
Katie Wilson, CEO of the Urban School Food Alliance, says the dozen large school districts in her association are collectively losing $38.9 million a week by serving food to their students during school closures without the revenue they generate from students who pay for meals.
“Without a federal bailout, school food programs will be forced to make cuts, meaning there may be fewer cafeteria workers to prepare meals,” Wilson said. “Schools will also have to figure out how to prepare and serve foods in buildings while adhering to social distancing measures.”
There are many pros and cons being considered when it comes to how education will look in the fall, but the bottom line is – the system needs a sufficient number of teachers to prepare future generations.