Midterm Elections 2022 – Royal Examiner

Governor Glenn Youngkin has adopted a new strategy in trying to contain thousands of teaching vacancies across Virginia. He wants to hire more educators for the state’s 1.25 million students in public schools from K-12, and the government has bet that lowering the licensing bar will reduce the shortfall. to win.

He should reevaluate that bet.

Youngkin signed an executive directive last month allowing the Superintendent of Public Instruction to issue licenses to teachers certified in other states. The recruitment and retention bonus grants will target divisions with high and persistent teacher vacancy rates.

The administration has also just launched an advertising and social media campaign to encourage people to “become a teacher”.

A pre-pandemic Oct. 1, 2019 “snapshot” of school staff found 1,063 vacant teaching positions in Virginia, a Department of Education spokesperson told me via email. This compares to October 1, 2021, a total of 2,563 – the most recent data available. States across the country face similar teacher shortages.

The government, however, should have consulted more with critics of the proposals it announced last month. It does not attack the problem at its root. Plus, he risks lowering the standards just to get more body in front of the classroom.

One of his first initiatives, a teacher whistleblower line – the euphemism is “whistleblower line” – has also had a chilling effect. More on that later.

Critics rightly say his proposals don’t address the underlying reasons why educator recruitment and retention is such a tough sell here. Low wages, a chronic problem in Virginia, are likely the main reason.

Virtually all teacher salaries are the No. 1 factor in leaving the profession, James J. Fedderman, president of the 40,000-member Virginia Education Association, told me this week. He noted that the state also ranks near the bottom in most teacher compensation surveys.

The Virginia Mercury previously cited a 2019 analysis by the Economic Policy Institute that ranked Virginia last in the nation in terms of “teacher pay penalty,” referring to the weekly wage gap between teachers and others. college-educated professionals. Business.org ranked Virginia 49th this year (behind Arizona and Washington, DC) when comparing the average teacher salary to the average salary for all jobs in the state.

Charles Pyle, the state’s DOE spokesman, noted that Youngkin had signed a budget with a 5% salary supplement beginning August 1 and another 5% supplement beginning July 1, 2023. The budget also includes a $1,000 bonus for each teaching and support position.

It’s a start, but there’s a lot of catching up to do for teachers here. It should be noted that federal pandemic money will pay for the increases. Could the state have done it on its own?

The spending priorities are particularly infuriating considering how wealthy Virginia is compared to other states. For example, Virginia is one of the top 10 states for household income, but ranks 41st for state funding per student.

Another issue is preparation. Some career changers who enter education do not have the experience of being in front of the classroom.

This could mean they are more likely to quit after a few years. A recent Gallup poll found that K-12 workers have the highest levels of burnout of any industry in the country.

Kim McKnight directs the Center for Teacher Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University and runs an extension of VCU’s teacher residency program called RTR. Students are paid for a year to partner with experienced educators in hard-to-staff schools. They therefore receive practical training and funding.

“You learn alongside an expert,” McKnight told me on Wednesday. “It’s not just about getting them here, it’s about keeping them here.”

Fedderman noted that teachers face a lack of respect from officials. “Teachers don’t have the autonomy to teach the truth in the classroom,” he said.

It looks like a swipe at Youngkin’s exposure of critical race theory, which he used to help win the 2021 gubernatorial election. His first executive order banned CRT, even though schools K-12 don’t teach it in Virginia.

Back to the snitch line. Earlier this year, Youngkin, a Republican, announced the launch of an email address to report violations of parental rights and “inherently divisive practices in schools.” Educators, state Democrats and celebrities have criticized the tactic. The news media sued the administration’s refusal to release recordings about it.

The move evoked decades-old tactics in communist countries, where neighbors spied on neighbors in places like East Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin. It is deplorable.

Fedderman told me he was not aware of any teacher firings or resignations because of the whistleblower line. Instead, he noted, “People saw it for what it is: a divisive tactic to pit parents against teachers.

“We should be a collaborative and cohesive unit” so that the children become the best they can be, the union leader added.

In effect. Youngkin’s directive on hiring teachers might help boost the numbers, but he will have to do a lot more to keep teachers in the classroom.

Ending the snitch line should be part of the package, comrade.

by Roger Chesley, Virginia Mercury

Virginia Mercury is part of States Newsroom, a grant-supported network of news outlets and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Virginia Mercury maintains editorial independence. Contact editor Sarah Vogelsong with any questions: info@virginiamercury.com. Follow Virginia Mercury on Facebook and Twitter.

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