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America's teacher shortage is 'a matter of teacher respect,' says education secretary

The coronavirus pandemic has increased pressure on teachers. Many teachers have had to teach remotely or live in fear of catching her COVID-19 while teaching in person.

As a result, some educators have chosen to quit teaching altogether. In a recent episode of “Influencers and Andy Sarwer,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona attributed the recent shortage of teachers in the United States to relatively low wages and a lack of respect for the profession.

“I think the lack of teachers is an issue of respect for teachers,” Cardona told Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief. “A time when a teacher has two jobs or three jobs for a teacher to make ends meet — unacceptable. We have to challenge it. But it still happens.”

Schools across the country report an inadequate number of teachers. A national survey released this week by the National Education Association found that 53% of public schools reported being understaffed at the beginning of his 2022-23 school year, and 60% had suffered understaffing since the start of the pandemic. says.

Another National Education Association survey, released in January, found that 55% of educators said they were leaving school early. This compares with 37% in his previous August.

“When schools close, communities close.”

Two years ago, when COVID-19 closed many schools across the country, parents struggled to care for their children while holding down jobs. Some healthcare workers were staying home with their children when COVID was already draining resources, straining the healthcare system.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona meets with U.S. college leaders in the Vice President’s Ceremony Room at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, U.S.A. following the Supreme Court’s decision to end constitutional abortion rights nationwide. Discussing challenges faced by students. August 8, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

“The pandemic has really given us an opportunity to think about the importance of teachers and the importance of schools, because when schools are closed, so are communities,” Cardona said.

Both lack of wages and perceived lack of respect contribute to teacher shortages. For example, a survey released last month by the Charles Butt Foundation found that of 1,291 public school teachers, about 75% of Texas teachers have considered quitting their jobs because of a lack of respect and support. says there is.

According to a recent report from the Economic Policy Institute, teachers’ salaries also remain low compared to other occupations. The teacher’s wage, adjusted for inflation, has remained roughly flat since 1996 and has risen from $1,319 to $1,348 in 2021, according to the report. Meanwhile, the weekly inflation-adjusted wages of other college graduates rose from $1,564 to $2,009 during the same period.

“We need to do better. So for me, lifting the profession and respecting the profession means giving teachers agency. We need to give them better working conditions. give.”

Evidence suggests that improving teacher conditions ultimately improves student performance. For example, her 2019 study published in Education Next, a journal of education policy research, found that higher teacher salaries were closely associated with better student performance. .

“We need to make sure that educators are rewarded for the work they do and the support they provide to their students. If we take care of our educators, they will do better for our students.” I’ll take care of it,” said Cardona. .

The U.S. Senate confirmed Cardona as U.S. Secretary of Education in March 2021. Previously, from 2019 he served on the Connecticut Department of Education Commissioner until 2021. fourth grade teacher.

Dylan Croll is a reporter and researcher at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter. @CrollonPatrol.

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