This piece from Chalkbeat describes education policy challenges in Indiana, but it could just as easily have been written about what has been and is happening here in Tennessee.
The story is based on a survey of school superintendents in Indiana. The school leaders are asked to talk about the challenges of finding and retaining teaching talent.
Here’s some of what they had to say:
Indiana’s war on teachers is winning
“Pay teachers more and offer better benefits. Respect the profession.”
“Overworked. Little or no pay raises in the past and none expected in the future.”
“The burnout rate increases because teachers are covering higher caseloads because of the shortage. Even when provided with an annual increase, overall morale of teachers in the state is low.”
The demands on teachers due to testing accountability makes it not worth teaching — takes the love and passion out of education.
“There is absolutely no incentive to stay in teaching or for that matter to pursue a degree in education. The pay is ridiculous. The demands are excessive. Teachers don’t really teach anymore, just test and retest. All the data-driven requirements are not successful in helping a student learn. Yes, we should have some testing but the sheer amount is ridiculous. I think we should go back to letting teachers teach. Let them be the professionals they were hired to be. ”
“There is a disconnect between what the state requires and what pre-service teachers are taught.”
If any of this sounds familiar, it should. Tennessee has been facing a growing teacher shortage for years now. As early as 2014, it was noted:
Since 2009, Tennessee has identified shortages in the overall numbers of K-12 teachers needed for public schools as well as teachers for specific subjects. There is a critical need in the state for STEM teachers, as well as shortages in high school English, social studies, world languages, Pre-K through high school special education, and English as a second language
In other words, state policymakers have been predicting a teacher shortage for a decade now and instead of adopting policies to address it, have adopted policies that in the words of some are “driving teachers crazy.”
We have a testing system that simply doesn’t work.
We offer salaries that don’t compare favorably to the private sector.
Our state’s schools are poorly resourced and the state funding formula is broken.
Ignoring the problem doesn’t make it go away. Ask Nashville, a district that has seen a rise in virtual classrooms as it struggles to fill teaching positions.
It’s no wonder some teachers are considering a strike as an option to get the attention of lawmakers who so far have ignored their pleas.
For more on education politics and policy in Tennessee, follow @TNEdReport
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