Last Thursday, we discussed how the liberal and progressive instigated COVID school mitigations led to a national record level of chronic truancy during the 2021-2022 school year. If that trend is allowed to continue, the term “lost generation” is going to take on an entirely new meaning.
But while progressives are doing their best to destroy our major metropolitan school districts through a series of bizarrely ironic attempts to “save” them, the persistent right-wing attacks on educators and our schools was driving teachers away long before the pandemic turned the profession into a nightmare. And when you add that standing rancor to the current post-COVID apocalyptical educational landscape, the flow of exiting educators has jumped from a steady stream to an outright deluge.
And those teacher shortage numbers are just as scary as our chronically absent student data. For the states that report this information, here are some of the worst scenarios:
- Florida: 3,911 vacant teaching spots with 16,585 unqualified “educators”
- Georgia: 3112 vacancies and 5220 unqualified
- Mississippi: 3,306 and 1,521
- Alabama: 3,000 and 5,046
- Wisconsin: 2,565 and 1,346
- Illinois: 1,700 and 337
- California: Unknown and 24,029 (Yikes!)
- North Carolina: 1,698 and 14,822
By “unqualified” I mean not qualified to teach by their own state standards.
In Florida, where common sense goes to die, you can legally teach young students if you’re a veteran. I certainly appreciate their service, but I’m not quite sure how the Florida legislature decided the military skillset translates into being a good teacher. Put more simply, the nearly 17,000 uncertified “educators” in those classrooms does NOT bode well for the future of Florida’s children.
Teaching is not the kind of job you can just walk into and succeed from day one, either. Parents and administrators are incredibly demanding, today’s children require an inordinate amount of patience, and you really need to love the job to be effective.
Then they have to deal with state legislatures that, if they’re not too busy thrusting unfunded mandates upon them, they’re failing to fund essential district services. And the fallout from those lapses, like the recent transportation meltdown in Louisville, Kentucky, can be as just as deleterious as perpetually absent students and a lack of qualified teachers.
I’m betting you’ve already heard about how the understaffed Jefferson County district transportation system completely broke down on August 9, the first day of school, with some children never getting picked up and others failing to arrive home until 10 p.m. – their clothes reeking of dried urine.
How did this disaster happen? According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Kentucky’s determinedly red legislature applied some legal trickery to do an end run around THEIR OWN Constitutional mandate to fully fund those busses to the tune of just 55 percent of what’s required. So, not only is the Louisville school district dealing with a dire driver shortage, but they couldn’t pay the bus drivers they had to practice their routes.
If you’ve taken the briefest of morning strolls in Kane County over the last two weeks, you inevitably observed the district bus drivers rehearsing their pickup and drop off plans.
It amazes me how those Republican states seem to believe that people can’t wait to drive the yellow bus. Because as difficult as teaching can be, who in their right mind would want to take on a low-paying, part-time, seasonal job chauffeuring overly entitled and COVID addled children to and from school? And if they dare stand up to one of the misbehaving little darlings, it’s the driver’s butt that typically ends up in a sling.
Considering those “perks” and how Jefferson County can’t compete with what surrounding districts’ pay their drivers, is anybody really surprised there’s Louisville can’t hire enough bus divers?.
To avoid a reprise of their disastrous first day, Louisville elementary and middle schools were forced to close while they reorganized the bus routes, reopening a week laker on August 18, pushing their school year back six full days.
And I would be willing to bet my bottom dollar that there are more than a few Democratic and Republican Kentucky parents out for state legislator blood. Imagine if your child was five hours late getting home and nobody could tell you where they were. That had to be a fun day.
If you can’t effectively get your students to and from school, isn’t that only going to make the chronic truancy problem that much worse?
Any one of the three issues we’ve discussed in this two-part series can have a critical effect on a child’s education, but when our school districts have to contend with chronic truancy, an increasingly terrifying teacher shortage, and the failure of state legislatures to fully fund their districts – all at the same time – it puts our larger school systems on the brink of the abyss, and if they do topple over the edge, the damage may be irreversible.
It’s in that very solution-oriented vein that I want to reiterate my invitation for U-46 school board president Sue Kerr and superintendent Suzanne Johnson to come on WRMN radio with Mark Bialek and myself to address the COVID mitigation fallout and how U-46 plans on helping teachers and students recover from these frightening consequences. A 40 percent chronic truancy rate is a very serious problem.
If we don’t evaluate the pros and cons of our major decisions, we’ll make the very same mistakes next time, and wer have to arrest this accelerating decline in our largest school districts, now!