As teacher shortages loom ahead of the new school year, union leaders are calling for more financial resources.
In a recent interview with ABC News, National Education Association President Rebecca Pringle estimated that the United States lacks 300,000 teachers and support staff — the fruition of a “crisis in the number of students who are going into the teaching profession and the number of teachers who are leaving it.” Likewise, 55% of teachers reportedly consider exiting the profession earlier than they had expected.
The shortage comes as COVID and the lockdown-induced recession prompted millions of Americans to retire or otherwise exempt themselves from the job market. The labor force participation rate has dropped from 66% in 2008 to 62% in 2022, falling 3% between February 2020 and April 2020 alone, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In response to the shortage, Pringle recommended that citizens ask that “all of our schools are funded, so all of our students have what they need and they deserve.” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, meanwhile, pointed to “inadequate support and resources” and “subpar compensation” in a July press release discussing the teacher shortage.
Despite claims of poor funding, there is by no means a lack of taxpayer dollars flowing toward government schools. A report from the National Center for Education Statistics indicated that the inflation-adjusted yearly expenditure per American pupil rose from $4,060 to $15,424 between 1960 and 2017 — a 280% increase. Another study from the Department of Education revealed that schools increased the number of non-teaching staff by 702% between 1950 to 2009 and hired 252% more teachers over the same period.
The state of Virginia, for example, “would have had an extra $29,007 to spend per teacher if it had limited the growth of administrators and other non-teaching staff” from 1992 to 2009, according to the study.
As Robert Bortins — the CEO of Christian homeschool curriculum provider Classical Conversations — explained to The Daily Wire, the bloated funding occurs even as the United States remains in a mediocre position on many international education metrics.
“If the New York Yankees, who routinely have the highest payroll in the MLB, missed the playoffs almost 100% of the time, the front office would be fired, not given more money,” Bortins noted. “Giving our current government education system — a group of individuals who can’t even properly identify man versus woman — more money is not the solution to providing our children a better education.”
Indeed, unions themselves likely play a role in the educator shortage, according to Bortins. “Teacher unions have helped create this broken system through decades of legislative reform that are designed to give themselves power, rather than empowering families to give their children a great education,” he continued. “Teacher unions support legislation that puts unneeded and unnecessary licensing burdens on new teachers, keeping qualified individuals out of the profession due to being improperly credentialed.”
Jeremy Tate — the founder of the Classic Learning Test, a standardized exam geared toward students with Christian and classical educations — told The Daily Wire that “the motivating force” behind teachers unions is “not serving students, but protecting teachers.”
“Nothing discourages young people from entering the teaching profession more than teachers unions and the policies they push. Teaching is inherently a heroic calling, but the unions put an ugly stain on the beauty and dignity of this great profession,” he said. “Pouring your life into the next generation is a high and beautiful calling for young people and they get excited about it. But having to join the ranks of an organization that clearly doesn’t want the best for students kills this excitement.”