Mass Exodus: Teachers? We Hope NOT!

More stories from Cecelia Gatta

May 22, 2023

  Teachers are leaving the profession they at one time loved so much. This is a problem though all across the United States. Many teachers are extremely underpaid and Niles unfortunately is one of them. “Some 300,000 public-school teachers and staff left the field between February 2020 and May 2022, a nearly 3% drop in that workforce, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data.” So why are teachers leaving? 

  We all know, teachers put a lot of work, effort, and money into teaching. They pay for any extra tables, chairs, classroom posters, bulletin board paper, and even pencils. And when teachers are getting underpaid, it becomes hard for them to afford their classroom supplies. To add to this crisis, inflation has been going up and the cost of living. Teachers just want to benefit from raises that would cover this cost of living, and not just break even after these school expenses are included. Teachers are also so burned out after Covid. The pandemic was hard for many teachers. They had to teach remotely, deal with all this new technology, and try to teach with all the Covid safety protocols. Since Covid has decreased, teachers have more students in class, more work, more meetings to attend, and to top it all off trying to learn all this new technology. This put a lot of teachers’ on edge with the pandemic and after the pandemic. “I know that those Covid years really changed the way I teach now because of our dependency now on Chromebooks and technology. I always loved using tech and computers to type essays and such, but now it’s changed to everything online, and it’s so hard for an older teacher to transition to this methodology,” said Niles ELA teacher Mrs.Ciminero. 

This cartoon image best explains why teachers want to leave the profession. (Photo courtesy of the NEA)

  With teachers leaving the profession, we now have teachers who have more work piled onto them. Many teachers also simply feel under appreciated. Teachers do so much for their students and the school district in which they teach. Some teachers have said they feel they are blamed if students aren’t doing their best or if they are struggling. “It’s our fault if a student can’t read, says Niles science teacher Mrs. Muccio.” The struggle to read started way before they even came to my class, but I feel like it’s on my shoulders to teach reading, grammar, sentence structure, and everything else.” But one of the biggest factors again is teachers being underpaid. With all these reasons, teachers deserve a raise in payment, which became a huge issue here at the  Niles City Schools.    

  Over the past couple of years, Niles City Schools teachers have not been getting pay raises on a consistent level.  Niles is the second lowest paid district in Trumbull County, and here’s how they got to that point. Every year, teachers get a new contract. The contract has various items like class size, after school meetings, but the most important item is salary. Niles’ teachers were on a pay freeze for multiple years and this was very upsetting. For this reason, the teachers said they would strike if they didn’t get a fair pay raise. A strike is a refusal of work to protest. The teachers didn’t want to strike, but they wanted to stand up to get the payment they deserved. The teachers had three meetings to negotiate before their contract expired on August 31, 2022. Teachers, administrators, and Board Members were all involved in this process of negotiating. Many parents were getting upset, knowing their children might not be able to go to school. After being online from Covid for almost a year, students’ parents were not very happy, yet so many in the community supported our teachers. Teachers never want to see a strike. They want to be in their classroom doing what they love, and that’s teaching. After the teachers and administrators went back and forth, they did come to an agreement. The majority of the Niles Education Association voted for the new contract. Niles ELA teacher, Mrs. Ciminero, who was also on the negotiating team says, “We got a decent raise, but we can’t make up for years of zeros. But this is a good starting point for negotiations in three years. Our teachers’ union is strong.”

Teachers are frustrated with years of underpayment. (Photo courtesy of Teacher Toolkit)

  Teachers leaving their careers so soon  before retirement is a huge problem. Teachers are starting to feel they’d be suited to doing something else. The 9-5 job with no additional “homework” is appetizing to these teachers now, and some are leaving the profession to get that. According to the Wall Street Journal’s article “School’s Out for the Summer and Teachers Are Calling it Quits” many teachers are even quitting their jobs and have gone into different fields, and mostly technology. Companies that involve technology are even reaching out to teachers saying, “Hey former teachers! This is a good fit!” These teachers who once loved their jobs are sadly wanting to leave. This is a problem that may not be so big now, but will impact the education system drastically in the near future. 

  After all is said and done, The “Almost” strike in Niles just proves what most teachers around the United States are feeling. Frustration, low pay, and under appreciation sums up the reason why teachers are running for the door. Let’s hope our Niles teachers aren’t leaving and are staying for a long time!