- Teachers who are part of the Chicago Teachers Union will go on strike Thursday, calling for the public school system to create smaller classes and increase their pay.
- Job creation for public teachers nationwide has not kept up with growing student enrollment, resulting in a shortfall of 307,000 teaching jobs, according to the Economic Policy Institute.
- The data sheds light on the ongoing teacher shortage: teaching jobs increased at the same pace as student enrollment until 2008, when 60,000 jobs were lost after the Great Recession.
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Chicago teachers are going on strike – but they aren’t the only educators feeling frustrated.
On Thursday, Chicago public schools – part of the third largest school system in the country – are closing classes to prepare for a citywide teacher’s strike. Members of the Chicago Teachers Union are calling for the mayor and school system to decrease class sizes and increase pay.
The CTU is demanding the city provide them with a 15% raise over three years, while Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot told reporters she offered to raise pay by 16% over five years.
“They have been signalling to us for a long time that they intended to strike. It’s not a surprise that this day has come,” Lightfoot told Wall Street Journal reporter Tawnell D. Hobbs.
This will be Chicago teachers’ third strike in seven years, according to think tank Illinois Policy. While some data suggests Chicago teachers earn more than the national average, teachers are still paid less than other positions that require a bachelor’s degree.
Plus, unionized teachers in Chicago say they are providing for too many students at once – a sentiment educators around the country feel. Earlier this week, teachers in Park County, Colorado, went on strike for higher wages.
Data suggests the country needs more teachers
The student population is growing – and not enough teaching jobs are available to keep up.
A new report found that since the Great Recession of 2008, the country lost 60,000 jobs in education. Not only that, but 247,000 more teaching jobs should have been created to keep up with growing student enrollment as the population increases.
This has resulted in a shortfall of 307,000 teaching jobs – meaning there are over 300,000 educators currently needed right now.
The data sheds light on an ongoing national teacher shortage. Back in 2008, teaching jobs increased at the same pace as student enrollment. Since the Great Recession, or after 60,000 jobs were lost, job creation in education never kept pace with the growing student enrollment.
Other data centres have similarly staggering estimates of the teacher shortage crisis. The independent research group Learning Policy Institute estimated a 112,000 teacher shortage in 2018.
The study uses data from the Bureau of Labour Statistics analysed by the liberal think-tank Economic Policy Institute. Educator jobs include mostly K-12 public school teachers, but also administrators, guidance counselors, and paraeducator.
America’s teachers say they’re underpaid and overworked – and they’re fighting back.
Elise Gould, senior economist at EPI and author of the report, attributed the shortfall to dwindling wages and decreased funding for public education.
Teachers are paid an average of $US60,000, though the rate varies depending on which state they work or the type of school. For context, that’s the average salary of a personal trainer or event planner, as Business Insider’s Melanie Weir points out.
“I think that when we think about any jobs that you want to fill, I think you need to pay more to get the qualified teachers that you want,” Elise Gould, senior economist at EPI and author of the report, told Business Insider. “That means dedicating more money into school budgets to make sure students are getting the teachers that they need.”
But the barrier to entry for teachers is pricey, as all states require they have at least a bachelor’s degree. While the cost of college soars (as does student loan debt), school teachers earn nearly 21% less on average than other professions that require a college degree. Thirty years ago, the pay gap was just 2% less.
Many teachers work multiple jobs to make ends meet, according to the Pew Research Centre. Over two dozen teacher revealed to Business Insider that they spend as much as $US1,000 of their own money on school supplies that should be provided by administration.
Government public school funding has also declined: 29 states provided overall less state funding for students in 2015 than they did in 2008, according to the Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Some states have responded to the shortage by hiring more substitute teachers, but these positions require much less training than full-time educators. Some states just require they be over 18 with a high school degree. Other schools are turning to international teachers to fill the gaps,CNN reported.
Teachers had gotten so fed up with the low wages and insufficient funding that they went on a nationwide strike in 2018, resulting in some wage growth and increased funding for individual states.
If you are a teacher with a story to tell, email [email protected]
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