With Schools Reopening and the Pandemic Winding Down, It Can Mean Only Two Things: Union Resurgence and Teacher Shortage Stories!


There’s a piece in The Nation that Randi Weingarten thought highly of.

“The fight over reopening school buildings may appear specific to a historic pandemic, but it has had reverberations that teachers hope will last,” the article says, referencing the possibility of a teacher strike in Philadelphia this fall.

But that’s nothing compared to the bombardment of teacher shortage stories from around the country, all of which seem to be supported only by surveys asking about teachers’ plans.

In February, the Colorado Education Association released the results of its survey, showing “almost 40% of Colorado’s educators are considering leaving the profession in the near future.”

Of course this led to headlines in the Denver Post and media outlets across the state, which cited “safety concerns, ballooning workloads during COVID-19 and low pay among their reasons.”

Few people noticed that Colorado had 652 more teachers in 2020 than in 2019, and that they had a lower turnover rate than all other public school employees.

Similar surveys were released to the public in Michigan, Maine and Nebraska. You have to work your way to the ninth paragraph in the Nebraska story to learn that retirement numbers in the Omaha public schools “are actually below average.”

Education Week posted a report with its own survey results and the headline “MORE THAN HALF OF TEACHERS CONSIDERING LEAVING THE CLASSROOM.”

Keep scrolling before you get to the qualification: “It’s important to remember, though, that many teachers who say they’re considering leaving won’t actually do so.”

The monthly Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics continues to show remarkably fewer quits and retirements than the previous year.

In March 2020, BLS reported 121,000 state and local education employees across the nation quit their jobs, and another 36,000 separated, most of which would be retirements.

In March 2021, those same categories showed 79,000 quits and 21,000 separations, reductions of 35% and 42%, respectively.

My good friends at The 74 have posted an important piece by Dan Goldhaber about the teacher labor market, with two teacher attrition and mobility charts.

Don’t bother trying to play “spot the difference.” There isn’t any.

Don’t worry about the future, either. With tens of billions of dollars headed to school district coffers, we already have indications of how it will be spent.


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