San Francisco — One of California’s desperate school districts sends leaflets to parents in students’ lunch boxes saying they are “currently hiring”. Elsewhere, the principal fills in as a security guard, teachers are offered a signing bonus, and the school is returning to online learning.
Now that schools have welcomed students back into the classroom, they face new challenges. It is the shortage of teachers and staff that some districts have never seen.
Public schools have long struggled with teacher shortages, especially in the fields of math, science, special education and language. However, the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated the problem. Educational stress in the COVID-19 era has led to a surge in retirements and resignations. Schools also need to hire staff such as tutors and special assistants to make up for the lost learning, and more teachers to run online schools for those who are not ready to return home. needed.
In Tennessee, New Jersey and South Dakota, teacher shortages and vacancies have been reported as difficult to fill, and one district began its school year with a vacancy of 120 teachers. Across Texas, major districts such as Houston and Waco reported hundreds of education vacancies earlier this year.
Some schools across the country had to close their classes due to a shortage of teachers.
Eastpoint Community School in Michigan abruptly returned junior high school to distance learning this week due to a shortage of teachers. The small district north of Detroit has 43 vacant seats. This is a quarter of the faculty. When some junior high school teachers resigned without notice last week, the district moved to online classes to avoid sending unqualified agents, spokeswoman Kate Linkinitz said.
“We need a teacher in front of our kids, not just adults who can pass background checks,” Kienitz says. “It’s obviously not ideal, but we can be sure they’re getting each subject area from a certified teacher to teach it.”
According to a June survey of 2,690 members of the National Education Association, 32% said they planned to quit their jobs earlier than expected because of the pandemic. According to another study by Rand Corp., the pandemic increased teacher exhaustion, irritation and stress. Teachers were almost twice as likely to experience persistent work-related stress and depression compared to other hired adults.
The lack of teachers is “really a national issue and certainly a statewide issue,” said Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the California Board of Education.
The school district in West Contra Costa County, Calif., is considering hiring an out-of-state math teacher to teach online, but agents are monitoring students directly.
“This is the most severe labor shortage we’ve ever experienced,” Deputy Director Tony Wald said. “This year, 50 (or 5 zero) teachers have opened, meaning students will go to 50 classes without a full-time teacher.”
According to Wald, there are 100 more recruits for key staff such as unqualified but important educational assistants to assist English learners and students with special needs.
Los Angeles Unified, California’s largest district, has 600,000 student and more than 500 teacher vacancies, five times more than last year, spokeswoman Shannon Harbor said.
Schools try to replenish options, but they are also in short supply. Nikki Henry, a spokeswoman for the Central California area with 70,000 students and 12,000 employees, said only a quarter of the pool of 1,000 qualified agents would work at Fresno Unified. He said he was ready.
At Berkeley High School, due to a shortage of agents, teachers are required to fill in during the preparatory period, causing fatigue and irritation that is not usually felt at the beginning of the school year.
“We are absolutely nervous. It was a very stressful start to the year,” said 9th grade teacher Hasmig Minasian. Loss.
“I don’t think there are enough adults on these campuses to really keep the kids safe. I think we are as goofy as before,” she said. “Do you know the opening video of a nurse crying in the car? I am waiting for your teacher, ”he said.
According to Board of Education Darling Hammond, California’s shortfalls range from catastrophic to less severe where to plan ahead and win the competition, but they are in the minority.
With a new twist, money is not the main issue. Thanks to billions of federal and state pandemic relief funds, the school district has the funds to hire additional staff. There are no people to apply.
“We’re all competing for a shrinking pie,” said the assistant superintendent of the Mojave Desert’s Unified School District, which has more than 200 openings for special education assistants, patrons, cafeteria workers and more. One Mike Gelber said. “I don’t know if everyone is taken away or if they don’t want to teach in the post-COVID era, but the wells are exhausted.”
The district with 8,000 students has advertisements in newspapers, radio and social media. Teachers pack “currently rented” leaflets in their children’s lunch boxes, which contain a long list of openings to help disseminate information to families. During this everyone is taking part.
“The principal and manager are more than security guards. Because of the lack of supervisors, the secretary is driving the traffic,” Gerber said.
According to Darling Hammond, the shortage raises concerns that schools will hire unqualified teachers. This is especially true in low-income communities where jobs are already difficult to fill.
The number of people in the class is also increasing.
With 28,000 students east of San Francisco, the Unified School District of Mount Diablo needed to fill several elementary school classrooms that could seat 32 students. This isn’t ideal for social distancing, but it frees up teachers for online schools.
About 150 children enrolled in distance learning at first, but the highly contagious Delta variant caused a spike in infections, which rose to 600 when school resumed. The same thing happened in Fresno, where distance registration increased from 450 to 3,800.
Adam Clark said the Mount Diablo District has awarded contracts of $5,000 for linguistic pathologists and $1,500 for para-teachers to help students with their learning needs.
The San Francisco Unified School District offers a similar start-up bonus for the work of 100 para-educators. Nearby West Contra Costa County Unified has earmarked a $6,000 contract for teachers, with one-third being paid after the first month and the rest as teachers enter their third year.
Districts such as Oklahoma, North Carolina and New Jersey offer a variety of cash incentives for new teachers, especially in low-income, poorly performing schools.
Only one in 12 employees interviewed in the California area said they were not facing shortages.
Long Beach Unified, the state’s fourth-largest district with more than 70,000 students, predicted last spring it would need to employ about 400 people.
“We are absolutely aggressive,” said assistant superintendent David Zaid, which includes bolstering talent for a 24-hour turnaround of contract offers.
The Virtual Interview team worked during the summer. The recruitment program gathered hundreds of applicants, and when human resources staff met the recruitment criteria, they were rewarded with breakfast caterers and ice cream trucks.
“We probably experienced the same shortcomings as others, but we became a lot more aggressive and as a result we are not in the same position.”
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