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The Effects of the Teacher Shortage in America

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The Effects of the Teacher Shortage in America

The teachers of today have a direct impact on the students that they instruct. Teachers mold students into the citizens that make up the foundation of our society. When you take into consideration the fact that teachers have a direct effect on our society, you can see the overall importance of teaching. Teaching withholds a great amount of power. It is ourteachers who carry the world on their shoulders. Our educators rarely receive the admiration that they deserve for their dedication, time, and commitment. "The future of the world is in your hands. . . . You chose to be a teacher, you mold young minds on a daily basis and those minds have got to grow up and save the world" (Gilbert 3). The responsibility of being a teacher is not a simple task for an individual to take on. Teachers must carry a deep passion within themselves in order to teach. This is due to the fact that the profession of teaching does not pay what is deserved for the efforts that are put in on a daily basis. In order to be a successful teacher, the individual must be patient, committed, structured, diverse, work well under stress, and have no desire to make a large amount of money for teaching. Successful teachers must accept the fact that they will be presented with various stressful situations while working in the profession of teaching.Teachers must be aware of the extra hours they must dedicate each day. In addition, they must also take into consideration, the effects that it may have on their home lives. The individual must develop coping mechanisms to prevent a teacher burnout. One such example is noted by author Kjersti VanSlyke-Briggs:

Ana attempts to use the problem-solving techniques throughout her narrative. She uses the resources of the principal and of Celeste (the guidance counselor) to help her assess the precipitating stress event more clearly and to seek a resolution. In this situation, Ana is able to maintain a balance with smaller and routine stress events. She uses positive coping techniques such as walking and talking with peers in order to alleviate stress. She also plans ahead to manage potential stress and forces herself to stay a bit later in the day to organize for the next day and prevent a bad morning. (48)

It is plain to see that being a teacher is a difficult task. Some individuals are not able to handle this task, and may eventually leave the profession. "Nearly one in three teachers who begin the profession leaves within the first three years" (qtd. in VanSlyke-Briggs 1). Teacher retirement, low teacher salaries, budget cuts, and the No Child Left Behind Act, are all causes of the teacher shortage in America. According to Superintendent Steven Gobble, "the Sullivan County School Board . . . adopted a $12.4 million final school budget for the 2011-12 fiscal year. Under the final budget, the school district is losing three teacher positions (Loewenstein 1). Budget cuts are now becoming more common here in the United States due to the fall of our nation's economy. Several schools are now taking drastic measures to save funds. A Brooklynn charter school had to relieve twenty of their staff members within the year. Unfortunately, this left the remaining teachers responsible for completing the janitorial work along with their own teaching tasks for the day. One teacher requested to remain anonymous and stated, "We don't have enough textbooks for all the students in the classroom. We don't have enough paper to make copies. If we want our rooms cleaned, we can borrow the vacuum cleaner" (New York Post 1). The shortage of teachers has consequently led to a variation of many negative effects for students and their education.

With a limited amount of teachers, schools have been compelled to increase the number of students in each classroom. Increasing the number of students in the classroom is done in order to directly ensure that all students will be able to receive teacher instruction for each day. Unfortunately, when classrooms are filled to the maximum capacity, there are less one-on-one interactions between the students and their teacher. Teachers' Union in Chicago actually sued the Chicago school system in June, 2010. CTU President Marilyn Stewart stated, "Besides posing a safety hazard, the shift to larger classes would jeopardize children's ability to learn" (qtd. in Education Week). As you can see, many people are highly concerned with the ability of children to learn when classroom sizes are increased. According to an article in the Dallas morning news, "Based on estimates from the state and local school districts, many hundreds more classrooms in kindergarten through fourth grade will bump over the mandate maximum of 22 students" (Weiss 1). This only gives you an idea of how many students will be affected in one state out of all forty eight states in the United States. The one-on-one student and teacher interactions are being greatly diminished. It is difficult to keep student achievement up when there are few one-on-one interactions with the teacher. We shall also keep in mind, students that require more dedicated and focused attention. There are many students who have learning disabilities as well as younger students who require special teacher interactions. "Research indicates that the effects are greater on younger students, in classrooms of less experienced teachers, and on students who come to class with greater learning challenges" (qtd. in Weiss 2). Director Grover Whitehurst mentioned that increasing classroom sizes should only be done where the effects are not as drastic (qtd. in Weiss 2). Older students would have less detrimental effects than increasing classroom size with younger students. Older students carry within themselves more maturity and the ability to rationalize. Increasing classroom size also increases the amount of effort required by the teacher to control the class. A classroom that is not under control will also have a negative impact on learning. It is important that teachers are able to keep the attention of their students in order to educate them. However, classroom size is not the only effect of our teacher shortage.

School administrators are more frequently attempting to search for replacement teachers in order to obtain balance within their schools. When a school has a teacher leave the workforce, an open billets is then created, which must be filled. According to a report by DC Voice, "D.C. Public schools has a shortage of well-trained and qualified teachers" (qtd. in Young 1). Washington is not the only state that is having these issues. There are many more cases; in which under qualified teachers are hired just because the school needs "warm bodies" to fill



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