Report from Louisiana: Teacher Shortage

Posted: September 5, 2022 by Pat Austin in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Besides the LSU one-point loss to Florida State last night, the other big headline in the papers this morning is the national teacher shortage.

At this point, when education officials and politicians lament about teacher shortages I just shake my head and move on. I might roll my eyes, too. I mean, why is anybody surprised that there is a teacher shortage?

I’ve beat this drum in this space before: I retired at 25-years from my teaching position. I could not do thirty years. I wanted to because I loved my students and I loved teaching. But when Louisiana public education officials pushed out the canned curriculum with script, pre-made, dull PowerPoint slides with scripted questions, which we were expected to “read with fidelity,” I was done.

Not to mention that the pay is terrible. The voters refused multiple attempts at a pay raise because we “knew the pay when we went into teaching,” and for multiple other reasons like inflated bureaucracy at the school board office. Top heavy administration. Created jobs for nepotism reasons.

No, instead of being paid like other professionals, we are given free donuts and soft drink coupons on teacher appreciation week. The local Sonic might donate some breakfast burritos for workshop day. That should do it.

Teachers are leaving not just because of low pay. They are leaving because they aren’t really allowed to teach.

They are leaving because their planning period has never been actually for lesson planning. (You don’t need to plan for lessons that are already prepared for you and your script written). No, planning periods are for meetings, “professional development,” and for covering other classes.

Teachers are leaving because classroom management is more challenging these days than ever before. Cell phones and air pods have changed the face of classroom management. 

Teachers are leaving because few people actually respect a teacher; they are thankful for you, sometimes. But they don’t really respect you.

Teachers are leaving because they have to create Amazon Wish Lists for basic classroom materials like paper, pencils, and markers. If you want a stapler on your desk, buy it yourself. If you need dry erase markers for your board, that’s on you, too.

Teachers are leaving because along with teaching you are also expected to support kids by being a class sponsor or a yearbook sponsor or a cheer sponsor or a club sponsor….all on your own time, after school hours, without extra pay. You are expected to do these things to prove that you love the kids and your school. I did them, and I loved my kids whether or not I was yearbook sponsor. But sometimes I was at school until midnight working on the yearbook. Without extra pay.

Teachers are leaving because the government has tied the hands of administrators is dealing out discipline. When a throw-down-girl-fight breaks out in your classroom over something that happened earlier in the day at lunch, and teenage girls are pulling hair and banging heads against the floor, furniture flying, endangering other students in the way, and those girls are hauled down to the office by the School Resource Officer, and the next day they are back in the classroom?  Who is really in control here? And by the way, you better beef up your classroom management because your administrator will tell you that if your classroom management was up to par a fight wouldn’t have happened. It’s your fault.

So, color me NOT surprised when you talk about a teacher shortage. I don’t regret my time in the classroom at all. There were times, with my students, that teaching felt like the best job in the world. But there were other times that teaching left you beat down and in tears at the end of the day.

It made the decision to retire at twenty-five years with an $500 per month pay cut in my pension easier. If I could have made to thirty-years I’d have gotten a better pension, but I absolutely could not do it. I was done.

And now, in the face of this teacher shortage, I never even consider going back.

Comments are closed.