According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an estimated 600,000 public school teachers quit their jobs between January 2020 and March 2022. More worryingly, teachers are choosing holidays before the end of the school year. In the state of Texas alone, there has been a 60% increase in teachers leaving the classroom in the middle of the 2021-2022 school year. There are some mistakes in government education, and teachers need help. Some districts, however, think that intimidating teachers into staying in their classrooms is a reasonable solution.
Leave the classroom, lose your license
It is never ideal for teachers to leave their classrooms in the middle of the school year. As a result, teacher contracts often include fines for abandoning their contracts. Although in previous years, almost as many teachers did not resign in the middle of the year. And when they did, many districts chose not to take disciplinary action. But as more teachers are unable or unwilling to wait until summer to leave their positions, some districts have begun to take a more difficult line. In Texas, for example, the State Board of Education certification has suspended the licenses of more than 300 teachers due to “resignation”. The threat of losing the ability to teach for a year or two is enough to make many educators think twice about leaving. Teachers in South Carolina and several other states have also lost their teaching licenses in the middle of the year. But what message is it sending to teachers?
Failed to read in the room
While many teachers who need their jobs to survive will be out of fear, this strategy may not be successful for long. Paul Tap, an attorney for the Association of Texas Professional Educators, has been advising teachers for more than 25 years who are considering leaving their positions in the middle of the year. In an interview, he shared that this current increase in resignations is unprecedented. “What we see now, what we haven’t seen before,” he said, “is what the teacher said, ‘OK, I understand I’m being approved, and I’m not paying attention.'” So what will the districts do with the threat of suspending their education licenses?
Put a band-aid on a broken bone
Symptoms already indicate that this type of negative reinforcement will not last long. In February, after several months of meetings and discussions with the Texas American Federation of Teachers, the Texas State Board of Education agreed to amend the wording of the agreement. Previously, a teacher could suspend their license if they resigned in the middle of the year without good reason or mitigation situation. But “good reason” and “mitigating the situation” were poorly defined and open to different interpretations. The new language provides a little more context for these terms. Now, a Texas teacher would not face potential fines if one of three situations exists:
- Teachers move to a new teaching position which requires a different certification.
- An academic resigns due to work conditions that reasonably meet the “immediate threat of significant physical harm.”
- Academics experience a reduction in base pay compared to the last year of their education.
Texas AFT deserves this victory. We should never force teachers to choose between their livelihood and their safety. However, many teachers still have concerns. What about teachers Emotional, Not physical, health is at risk of immediate significant damage? What if job expectations and work stress are not sustainable? For example, Texas K-3 grade teachers recently learned that they must complete a 60-to-120-hour course if they want to return to their jobs in 2023. Resolve such situations by fleeing the teaching profession and preventing young people from joining it?
Support, not suspension
Although more teachers than ever before have suspended their teaching licenses, not all districts think this is the right way to keep teachers in their classrooms. Districts that are struggling to find teachers are trying to attract sign-on bonuses to attract teachers to apply. The districts of New Jersey, Oklahoma and South Carolina are offering signing bonuses ranging from $ 1,000 to $ 4,000. Guilford County School Hall in North Carolina Offering a 20,000 signing bonus New teachers who agree to work in one of the district’s lowest performing schools and meet certain other requirements. In Colorado, the West Grand School District began offering free child care as an incentive to tempt teachers in their schools.
What we really, really want
Bonuses and benefits are nice, but not what teachers really want. Many teachers are becoming vocal advocates for true, sustainable change. Teachers want to hear. They want their experience and professionalism to be recognized and respected. And they want to fully support and fully fund their students and school. Teachers have reached a tipping point. And if serious changes are not implemented, the threat of suspension of teaching licenses will not be enough to keep teachers in their classrooms.