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Education Secretary Miguel Cardona argued Sunday that the nationwide teacher shortage is the symptom of an overall lack of respect for public school teachers that started during the COVID-19 lockdowns.
“Let’s face it, this teacher shortage is a symptom of something that’s been going on for longer than the pandemic and that’s a teacher respect issue,” he said on CBS News’ “Face the Nation.” “Unless we’re serious about providing competitive salaries for our educators, better working conditions so that they can continue to grow.”
“Is it really just about salaries?” CBS News host Margaret Brennan asked Cardona.
“It’s definitely not just about salaries,” Cardona replied. “But let’s think back the last couple years, you know, our educators have bent over backwards. We went from totally in-person learning to remote learning overnight, yet the pandemic really pushed many of these educators out of the profession because in many cases, you know, educators were not being respected when schools had to close. It created some tensions in our schools.”
“We need to make sure we’re supporting our educators, giving them the working conditions where they feel connected to the community and feel supported in the work that they’re doing,” he added.
School districts across the country have been struggling with an exodus of teachers since the pandemic. A survey conducted earlier this year by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 44% of public schools report having full-time or part-time teacher vacancies.
About 300,000 public school teachers and staff have left the field between February 2020 and May 2022, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. A survey from the National Education Association in February found that 55% of teachers reported that they were thinking about leaving the profession, and 79% of teachers reported dissatisfaction with their careers, according to a July American Federation of Teachers survey.
Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report.