The Minister of Education outlined his vision for reforming the teaching profession, first of all raising the wages of all educators and providing incentives for staff in difficulties.
Education Minister Miguel Cardona said that Americans should not be surprised by the damage caused by the shortage of teachers in K-12 schools and the emerging labor market crisis, because educators are rarely supported by other professions to recruit and retain employees.
In a speech at the Bank Street School of Education in New York City, Cardona asked, “Do we support them? Do we give them competitive wages?”. “This is the question we need to ask ourselves today. We should not close the school. The crisis we see is that there are not enough teachers to understand and appreciate their contributions.”
“When we talk about the shortage of teachers, we should not be surprised,” he said. “We have seen the factors that lead to this problem. Are we willing to solve this problem as a country?
In a 20-minute speech, the secretary outlined his vision of reforming the teaching profession from top to bottom. First of all, raise the wages of all educators to provide impetus for previously difficult positions, Include special education and bilingual teachers, and improve the teacher education plan, including more mentors, practical experience and concerted efforts to attract more students of color to enter the industry.
This speech was at a critical moment in the country’s public school system, which was pushed to the edge by the coronavirus pandemic, full of learning losses and mental health challenges, and full of controversial political debates. Similarly, including whether to arm teachers in schools. The latest mass shooting took place in a primary school in Uwald, Texas.
Of course, the problem of supply and demand in the workforce of educators is not new. Over the past few decades, the decline in the enrolment rate of teacher preparation programs has caused continuous and increasing vacancies in schools. Compared with other professions requiring similar education level, the wage growth of teaching profession is relatively stable, mainly due to the increase of pension and medical benefits.
However, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many tensions in the K-12 region, forcing school districts to transfer central office staff to classrooms. New retired teachers are required to return home and parents are included in the rotation calendar to support children’s classes. At least two states – New Mexico and Massachusetts – mobilized their National Guard to participate in teaching, drive buses and provide meals.
The National Teachers Association has sounded the alarm bell for what they call “unprecedented personnel crisis in all kinds of work”. The National Association of Education, which has 3 million members, released a public opinion survey in February and found that 55% of educators said they were ready to leave the industry.
After a series of strikes against teachers with low starting salaries, most of Cardona’s speeches focused on wages.
“We are very concerned about the starting salary of teachers, which is very important,” Cardona said.
“But in order to improve our career and attract and retain excellent teachers, we must focus on ensuring that teachers get competitive salaries and enough life.”
According to the Institute of Learning Policy, the average starting salary of American public school teachers is $41163, although the average starting salary is much lower in 32 states, including Missouri and Montana, where the salary is less than $33000. The income of teachers is only 67% of that of other professionals with college education.
Cardona said: “In terms of supporting teachers, we can say everything we want to say. During the Teachers’ Thanksgiving Week in May, we can bring coffee and doughnuts.”. “But we show that we value them with our wallets.”
He continued: “In too many states in the United States, teachers are eligible for government assistance through wages. “Can you imagine? Name another occupation. Name another normalized occupation. Use your personal coin to do more things and spend less personal time. Name another occupation. We must prevent this situation, and we must stop normal work Go to hell.”
In addition, Cardona called for teacher preparation programmes, especially those of colleges and universities with black history and other institutions serving ethnic minorities, to invest more resources in recruiting colored students to become educators. He also said that high schools should try to provide professional career paths for students who want to become teachers, just as some people have done in different technical and vocational education departments.
The Secretary of State acknowledged that the federal government has little influence in this regard, because the federal dollar accounts for up to 10% of the school budget, but urged state and local officials to give priority to this issue and make use of federal resources, such as funds from the United States rescue plan.
According to an analysis by FutureEd of Georgetown University, about 23.5% of the $50 billion received by the school district through the US rescue plan will be used to solve human resources problems, of which only 4.3% will be used to recruit and retain employees.
Since almost all federal aid has been accounted for – or disbursed or allocated for future use – it is not clear how states and counties that do not choose to use funds to meet the challenges of the education worker pipeline can implement any key fulcrum. Do it now.
It is worth noting that according to Allovue’s data, US $200 billion is included in the three separate federal aid plans received by the states and counties from March 2020, and will continue to be received until September 2024. In four and a half years, the fund for each student is only US $3850.
An educational financial institution that helps school districts budget, allocate and manage funds. This amount is less than 6% of the money that most school districts spend on students in any year, because a large amount of money has been used to alleviate the crisis at a very early age – such as broadband and Wi-Fi devices for distance learning and ventilation upgrades. The inspections needed to reopen schools and maintain direct guidance – most of the money was spent.
However, some states give priority to K-12 expenditure in the state budget.
California’s state budget for 2021-2022 includes $350 million in teacher housing plans to address areas of serious shortage. New Mexico passed a legislation earlier this month to provide $15.5 million for teacher accommodation assistance, including a minimum allowance of $35000 for residents, $2000 for tutors and principals, and $50000 for coordinating the programs of the Institute of Education.
Thursday’s speech was not the first time that Cardona urged state and local officials to do better for educators. In March this year, the Minister called on the states and school districts to, Colleges and universities give priority to the federal assistance of the United States rescue plan to prevent school layoffs and attract students and other young workers into the teaching industry to solve the supply and demand problems.
With the school year coming to an end, the school leaders are worried about the number of staff in the coming school year. In some places, the school year will start in less than two months. The secretary further stressed this issue.
“At present, leaders are trying to fill vacancies – especially in schools and regions with the highest demand – and they are trying to increase the diversity of our teaching staff,” Cardona said. “Our schools and students need qualified teachers, and our teachers should receive living wages.”