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Education

Lawmakers Must Address Teacher Shortage

As the beginning of the school year rapidly approaches in West Virginia, school districts are facing a problem. There are not enough teachers to get the job done.

West Virginia Education Association President Dale Lee told WV MetroNews he projects there will be more than 1,500 vacancies statewide. That is up from 1,106 in 2021.

“Before we used to hear it’s only math and science. No. It’s first grade classes, kindergarten, social studies, phys ed, health. Every discipline across the curriculum we’re having shortages,” Lee told MetroNews.

That is doing nothing for our abysmal efforts to measure up to other states’ ability to provide a quality education for our children. But teachers’ reasons for leaving the profession — or not wanting to work in West Virginia — include increases to and changes in the workload, safety worries and low pay.

Many teachers will tell you the number of roles they are asked to fulfill for some of the children in the classroom go so far beyond in loco parentis that they simply cannot keep up. And they are asked to take on those ever-increasing responsibilities for the wellbeing of our kids while facing constant meddling from lawmakers, terrifying incidents in schools across the country, and pay low enough that jobs in our five border states become more appealing.

“When you can make anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 more by simply driving 30 minutes across the border, we’re going to have those problems,” Lee told MetroNews.

A change on that front is not going to take place before districts finish their mad scramble to the start of the school year. In fact, some have taken matters into their own hands.

Here in Wood County, new teachers are being offered a $3,000 signing bonus for special education posts, for example.

Officials are trying, with programs such as scholarships for those pursuing teaching degrees who agree to stay in West Virginia, but it is not enough.

Lawmakers will have to turn away from focusing on censorship and keeping our kids in the dark about the whole of our history, and instead work a little harder to make sure our public school teachers and schools have what they need to feel safe and supported as they do their best to provide a good education for ALL West Virginia students.

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