The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

The official student news site of Algonquin Regional High School in Northborough, MA

THE ALGONQUIN HARBINGER

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The United States is in a teaching crisis: teachers are overworked, underpaid

As+the+new+school+year+begins%2C+Opinion+Editor+Jeffrey+Dratch+writes+about+the+struggles+teachers+face.
Ela Or
As the new school year begins, Opinion Editor Jeffrey Dratch writes about the struggles teachers face.

The United States is in the midst of a teaching crisis. Due to low wages and long hours, teachers are joining the workforce at a rate lower than ever before, and for understandable reasons. With teachers losing motivation and becoming increasingly tired, students and the educational system as a whole are being affected.

The teacher shortage is a growing issue, and there will be significant long term effects if ignored. In the Northeast, 48% of school district leaders have reported a staff shortage. Teachers across the country are leaving the education system in order to pursue jobs with higher flexibility and pay, and fewer people than ever are pursuing a teaching career.

It wasn’t always this way; for decades, teaching was a stable career for those looking to have an impact on others. However, the cost of living is rising while teacher pay is staying relatively the same. The average salary of a teacher in the Northborough-Southborough Regional School District in the 2020-2021 school year was $93,677, with the state average being at $87,071. The average salary for public school teachers in the United States was $61,820 during the same year. However, the median household income in Northborough is $148,010, making it difficult for teachers to be able to afford to live in the communities they work in. 

These may seem like respectable and livable salaries; however, all teachers are required to hold a bachelor’s degree with many holding a masters or doctorate degree, resulting in an average student loan debt among teachers in the United States at $55,800, according to a study from the National Education Foundation in 2021. In Massachusetts, this is heightened as teachers are required to have or begin pursuing a masters degree within five years of being hired in order to obtain a full teaching license. Many teachers are forced to live in years of student loan debt because of this, leading to further financial and emotional burnout. 

A lack of resources is another factor causing teacher overexertion. The lack of funding for many US schools can result in packed classrooms, antiquated equipment and a lack of instructional supplies, especially in underfunded districts. Teachers might be required to make their own supply purchases, deal with resource constraints and manage disruptive behavior from kids who might not have access to proper support. This will increase the pressure and strain teachers already deal with on a daily basis. 

In addition, few people are joining the profession, with a 2022 Pew Research study finding that there has been a 51.7% decrease from 1970 to 2020 in the amount of graduates with a bachelor’s degree in education. This causes more pressure on teachers already working, as they may have to teach more classes, including new ones they haven’t had to teach before. With new electives added to the curriculum at Algonquin every year, teachers are forced to teach classes that they might not have time for, or have a proper understanding of the subject.

The COVID-19 pandemic increased stress instructors already feel. Teachers have had to adjust to new teaching techniques and technologies while also dealing with the obstacles of instructing pupils who may not have access to dependable internet or computers. Educators had to manage virtual classrooms in years past as it was necessary in order to protect students and faculty from contracting COVID-19. Educators had to figure out how to engage students from a distance. While remote learning is no longer present, there are still after effects of managing increased technology use in the classroom, leading to a lack of engagement, along with finding ways to make up for potential learning loss in students. All of these factors combined with low wages would cause anyone to feel exhausted.

The US educational system is facing many problems due to teacher overwork, stress and attrition, leading to a significant teacher shortage. It is important to support your teachers as a student, and understand that they may be experiencing frustration with their job already. School districts must place a high priority on giving teachers the support and tools they need to perform their jobs well in order to solve this issue. By doing this, we can ensure that all students have access to a top-notch education and that teachers are successful in their teaching positions.

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Contributed
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A donation of $40 or more includes a subscription to the 2023-24 print issues of The Harbinger. We will mail a copy of our fall, winter, spring and graduation issues to the recipient of your choice. Your donation supports the student journalists of Algonquin Regional High School and allows our extracurricular publication to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

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About the Contributors
Jeffrey Dratch
Jeffrey Dratch, Opinion Editor
Jeffrey started writing for The Harbinger during freshman year after taking journalism class. After writing his first article in class, Jeffrey loved the process of crafting an article from start to finish, and is currently an Opinion Editor. Jeffrey loves Opinion because he gets to shed light to topics that don’t normally get discussed across the school community. Outside of The Harbinger, Jeffrey loves to ski, go to Trader Joe’s and listen to Lana Del Rey.
Ela Or
Ela Or, Graphic Artist
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