Point taken: Your voicemails on America’s teacher shortage

Listener voices drive on point. We get many voicemails, emails and social media messages with your thoughts, concerns and questions. Today, as a web exclusive we share some of your voicemails about America’s teacher shortage.

Here’s a few of your stories:

Lisa from Palm Beach County, Florida

I’m a retired schoolteacher of 40 years. And … in Florida, we tried hiring people from the private sector to get licenses by teaching and being assigned mentors. It was a very difficult situation for a lot of them. … Most of them left the teaching profession after a year, maybe two years. They decided it was a lot harder than they thought that it would be.

Also, it’s very difficult, especially in states like Florida, where the state legislature is tying the hands of teachers, as to what they can teach. And teachers are afraid that they will be sued by parents if they say something in the classroom that parents might find objectionable. It’s a difficult thing to do these days to teach.

Constance from Spokane, Washington

I am a substitute in the Spokane School district, and my mind is on the problems we are having with teachers… the shortage of teachers in our schools. What I’m seeing as a new substitute, I was a college professor for years, and now I’m substituting at the elementary and secondary level. What I’m seeing is although I have little interaction with teachers, when I do, they all talk about who’s leaving. And many of them tell me that they themselves are thinking about leaving.

And what I’m seeing with students, particularly in the elementary grades, is that since COVID, they are really struggling. They’ve not only fallen behind education-wise, but they’ve missed a lot of the social skills and the social learning that they would have gotten in those two years. So I think there are three things we desperately need. One, teachers need to be better paid. Because they’re working even harder than they were before. Two, we need more counselors in the schools because these kids really need a lot more attention, particularly in the next two years.

And three, we need school boards and administrators to support our teachers. Teachers feel like they’re out there standing alone, and we really need to, in some cases with the concern about critical race theory in the classroom, in some cases, they are out there alone. We need to see our administrators and our school boards step up for them.

Martin from Ukiah, California

I am very happy as a teacher. I feel reinvigorated by opening up after the pandemic. I’m probably happier as a teacher than I’ve ever been. I think the reason is because I didn’t really realize how important what we do is to the children’s social emotional development. It’s been a real eye opener for me. Academically, I’ve always felt like I held high standards. And I feel much more appreciated by the teachers. But I also feel appreciated by the parents. But I also feel much more appreciated by the students.

My students have told me after each vacation this year that they’re happy to be back at school. That they’d rather be at school with their friends, having recess, talking and working than staying at home and playing video games. That’s not 100% of the kids, but it really is a lot of the kids. So I’m not really one of those teachers that is ready to leave the profession. I don’t think it’s terrible. I feel like I’m back to teaching the way I did before, with the exception of I’m wearing a mask and some of the kids are wearing a mask.

Got a comment, question or thought? Call our voicemail line at 617-353-0683. We look forward to hearing from you!

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