Why on Earth Would Anyone Want to Be a Teacher?

Writing for 'NYT,' Jessica Grose cites 'culture war madness,' school shootings
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 15, 2023 1:33 PM CDT
Why on Earth Would Anyone Want to Be a Teacher?
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/Wavebreakmedia)

Teaching has never been an easy profession, but the "culture war madness" of the past few years has helped create a climate that's causing teachers to flee from their jobs, and for "teacher" to drop further down the list of desirable careers for high school and college students. So writes Jessica Grose in an op-ed for the New York Times, which details the firings, resignations, and overall wariness about the profession among today's educators and future educators. "Can you blame them?" Grose asks of teachers' skeptical attitude, noting the "demoralization" and "vitriol" that's infiltrating the current teaching pool and discouraging others from entering it. Grose writes that things started to ramp up during the pandemic, when teachers were suddenly tasked with handling classrooms under unprecedented circumstances.

After the worst of that challenge died down, teachers then started facing harassment and even threats, including against those who tried to foster a more inclusive, supportive environment for vulnerable communities. Add to that the specter of school shootings, and it becomes easier to see why teachers are defecting. "The current state of the teaching profession is at or near its lowest levels in 50 years," notes a working paper out of Brown University cited by Grose. She thinks that improvements can be made to help keep the teaching industry thriving, including by lowering the cost of getting one's teaching degree and making sure pay is adequate to sustain a middle-class lifestyle. "But perhaps just as important is that as a society we need to give teachers more respect," Grose writes. "If we want to attract and retain teachers, we're going to need to do better." Read the full piece. (More teachers stories.)

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