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Veteran teachers quitting at higher rates, leading many to reconsider the future of education in America

Newsweek is reporting that veteran teachers are quitting teaching at higher rates now because of “the stress tied to remote learning, technical difficulties and COVID-19 health concerns.” And those defections have left parents scrambling for alternatives that are fueling the pro-school choice movement.

“Several teachers who recently resigned, retired or opted out of their jobs ahead of pandemic reopening efforts say leaving their kids has been hard, but remote learning has made their jobs too difficult,” says Newsweek. “One Florida teacher said she became paranoid due to the constant requirement of being live-streamed to dozens of students throughout all hours of the day. And an Arizona high school science teacher said he resigned from a job he loves after his district voted to return students to in-person classroom learning—creating a health risk he and many other teachers say they aren’t willing to take.”

The quandary is the same that most American workers have faced since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, trying to balance new ways of working with the normal pressures of life in light of nationwide lockdowns.

EduWeek published a survey of teachers in June that found that 44 percent of teachers were more likely to leave teaching since the start of the COVID pandemic.

“Teachers have described the abrupt pivot to remote learning as exhausting, and EdWeek survey data has shown that teacher morale has continued to decline over the past couple months. When school buildings do reopen, social distancing measures and safety precautions will dramatically alter the way teachers typically teach,” says the education site.

Teachers also cited health concerns from COVID making them shy away from in-person teaching.

USA Today says that as a result of the teacher shortage and closed schools there is an impetus from parents to move away from the traditional school setting, with mini-schools and private tutors as alternatives to traditional public education.

“Some, concerned about their children falling behind and wanting to be able to maintain jobs without much interruption, plan to hire child care or tutoring help,” says the newspaper.

The big problem is that while schools remain closed, funding of the schools remains in place, which means middling and poor families can’t afford to use mini-schools or tutors for their kids unless that funding goes to families instead of to schools. In addition, the families are losing benefits such as school lunches and have to hire babysitters if the schools don’t open.

The combination is having an evolutionary effect on parents’ thinking about how education should be delivered.

“In a new push for school choice, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said on Friday that it’s a ‘good thing’ that the coronavirus pandemic will force the nation’s schools to make changes that should have happened many years ago,’” reports the Washington Post.

Teachers reluctant to teach, unions adamant about keeping schools closed, parents desperate to protect their children while still educating children, means that the pandemic will more likely upend the entire public school system the longer it goes.

“School choice addresses many of the issues we’re facing during the coronavirus and provides better educational opportunities for every student—not just during the pandemic, but for generations of students to come,” concluded Kay C. James, a Black school reform advocate, and president of the Heritage Foundation.

“As fall quickly approaches, states must work toward making school choice a reality so students don’t fall even further behind. Parents and students need options, and they need them now,” she concluded.

PHOTO: Kyle Grillot/Reuters

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