There is an epidemic happening around the country, maybe around the world. Teachers, educators, are losing their jobs by the 100’s. My guess is that there are many reasons contributing to this deadly education disease. Budgets seem to be the most popular excuse provided when pink slips are given. Some teachers are fortunate enough to work in districts that have retirees leaving which, in turn, preserves jobs for the time being.
I just heard an interesting statistic related to the district I live in and work for. In just over a decade, a severe fissure has developed in our teacher-student ratio. Our student population has decreased and, in comparison, our teacher population has remained nearly stagnant. This results in having 12 more teachers, comparatively, when using the same ratio from a decade ago.
UPDATE: This may be a correction, but not to confuse anyone, I have to relate what I learned after I wrote and published this post. The teacher-student ratio rationale I mentioned above may be somewhat inaccurate. Over the course of the last decade, roughly, our student population district wide has remained relevantly the same. Our staff, meaning teachers and aids, district-wide has increased by 12 in that same period of time. The implication, as mentioned above, still holds true.
In order keep jobs safe and avoid laying off teachers in our district it is apparent that over the course of the next few years we have to whittle down the number of teachers to accommodate the number of students in our district. Essentially, the magic number is 12. Our district has decided, in a hopeful mindset, to settle this number through attrition. I guess if they offered early retirement at age 40 I could help out. However, I know that will not be the case.
Our High School English department was recently informed that there are 10 more spots on the schedule than we need teachers. The solution is to move one of us to the middle school, which has an opening for a full time Reading/Language Arts position due to attrition. Change is difficult for everyone, however the good news is none of us are being given a pink slip…yet.
Our High School English department has nine members. One of those members is not certified to teach English but is certified in Special Ed. The majority of students on this teacher’s roster have IEPs. As long as the majority of students this teacher has have an IEP this teacher will continue to teach reading to academically challenged students. Another one of our members exclusively works with at risk students who may become credit deficient. That leaves seven members of the High School English department as a pool for our administrators to choose to make a move. Right now we are asked to ‘think about it’; we are given the opportunity to volunteer for this opportunity.
In recent years, as I have watched school districts all around us cut staff, the budget crunch has never hit me personally. That honeymoon is over. It is here and it is real!! I hear people discuss the reasons as to why we can’t get better teachers in our classrooms. I train student-teachers, I have colleagues training student-teachers who tend to struggle in the preparation, management, confidence, creativity, and work load of an English teacher. Is this because the elite students are going in other directions, pursuing other professions due to the gravity of education?
My question is, why are student populations decreasing? Is it simply demographics? Is it bigger than that? What about the influx of virtual schools and home schooling, is this causing a decrease in student population? Is it socio-economic? The greater significance for teachers in my age group (25-45) seems to be what is going to happen 10 years from now? What about rookie teachers or those students at the University hoping to become teachers? I am not sure I would advise my children to follow in their father’s footsteps. Where is education headed? I am thankful that I work for a forward thinking administrator and a progressive, supportive school board that recognize the significance of work ethic and gainful employment.
My dad has been a plumber his entire adult life and so has my only brother David. My dad always told me that plumbers will always be needed. I have sort of felt that way about teachers and education, but now I am beginning to wonder if this is really true.