American schools are not immune to the shortage of teachers. School boards across the country are trying to attract new staff with thousands of dollars, but the results are rather mixed.
Even with base salary increases and retention bonuses, school boards are struggling to attract teachers.
In the nation's fifth-largest school board, Nevada, more than 1,300 teachers are still short, three weeks into school.
It's to the sound of the song We are family< /p>
This large family, which began the school year on August 8, lacks an essential and increasingly scarce resource: teachers. Not too surprising when you discover that Nevada ranks 48th out of 50 states when it comes to funding the education system. This really does not attract new teachers.
Nine years ago Vicki Kreidel left California to teach in Nevada. At that time, it was still possible for him to buy a house in Las Vegas, in a state where there are no income taxes. Today, young teachers can no longer afford it, she notes, the cost of living has soared around Sin City, the city of sin.
Vicki Kreidel, teacher and union president NEA-SN, the National Education Association of Southern Nevada
In the halls of the school, she tells us that a teacher was almost killed by a student in a nearby school a few months ago. Because of COVID, children and some parents have lost their social skills, she drops, as if nothing had happened.
President of a teachers' union, she explains the disenchantment and departure of many of her colleagues with a long list of grievances.
“The suicide rate among teachers, a poorly managed school board, benefits that don't take into account the rising cost of living, houses that have become too expensive, etc.
— Vicki Kreidel, Teacher and President of the NEA-SN Union, the National Education Association of Southern Nevada
And the list goes on…
Jesus Jara, director of the Clark County School Board, which has more than 300,000 students and 18,000 educators, agrees teacher shortages are recurring in the Las Vegas area, but this year is the worst ever. . The conclusion is relentless: the profession no longer attracts enough young people.
The university system does not produce enough teachers. Just to replace retirements and vacancies, I need 2,000 teachers a year. Only 900 new ones come out a year.
Jesus Jara, principal of the United States Fifth School Board, agrees that it takes do more for teachers, but doesn't really have room for manoeuvre.
So, to motivate the troops, the school board not only offered $4,000 to teachers from elsewhere to move to Nevada, but also increased the basic starting salary by almost $10,000, for a total salary of 50 $000. Impossible to know, for the moment, according to the school board, the number of teachers from outside who have availed themselves of these advantages.
Vicki Kreidel denounces a bad calculation. They raised the salaries of new teachers, but they did nothing for veterans. Those who have been teaching for seven, eight or nine years have the same salary as those who start their career in the next class.
Ioana Rainaldo, mother of six-year-old Emilia, recently moved from Arizona to Las Vegas for work with her airline pilot husband. A teacher, she works as a substitute teacher in local school board schools.
This week I had three school days, but I could have worked five, because there is a shortage of substitutes. I receive emails every day with multiple replacement offers.
Ioana Rainaldo recently moved from Arizona with her husband Vincent and daughter Emilia. A teacher, she is hesitant to accept a full-time job at schools in the Las Vegas area, which are sorely understaffed.
Of course, she saw that there were many permanent positions available, but she is not thinking of making the leap, in order to have more time for her young family. And to avoid these administrative tasks which weigh more and more on the work of teachers.
“I'm a little scared to apply, because I know what it means. And knowing that there is a shortage means that you also have to take care of other classes or have extra students until the other teachers are there.
— Nevada substitute teacher Ioana Rainaldo
School board superintendent Jesus Jara admits the challenge is daunting. Nevada has the most populous classrooms in the country. It's because the funding is limited, and so it's one of the discussions we have with the unions and the elected officials for the long term.
The Clark County School Board in the Las Vegas area has over 300,000 students and 18,000 teachers and educators .
Vicki Kreidel, a teacher at Lomie G. Heard School, adds to the difficult climate of teaching in southern Nevada.
Until I lived here, I hadn't seen so many very young children who went through incredible trauma, you know, six-year-olds who watched their parents die of a drug overdose, sophomores who faced violence in their home to the point where they had depression.
I miss teaching, but not being a teacher, says Evan Scheer. This young teacher in his mid-forties has seen thousands of students pass by during the dozen years he has taught. He is one of hundreds of teachers who left the profession completely this year. Today, he is taking distance courses in data analysis.
The job isn't what it used to be, he says. And the school board, he says, hasn't understood that the biggest challenge is teacher retention. Which is the real issue in the education sector, everywhere in the United States.
Evan Scheer left teaching in the Las Vegas area this year.
Just focus on teacher recruitment, not retention, is like filling a bathtub without plugging it. All you do is let the water run and the tub won't fill.
And in a city like Las Vegas, the great temptation to change course for young people who would like to become teachers is very strong.
“It's not hard to go to Las Vegas Boulevard to have a big salary and a career that doesn't require a specific education. You can work as a waiter in a fancy restaurant and receive between 80,000 and 100,000 dollars a year.
—Evan Scheer, ex-Nevada teacher
Recently, the Clark County School Board decided to offer retention bonuses of $2,500 at the end of September and $2,500 at the end of the year.
Jesus Jara is aware that these increases and bonuses are not yet sufficient, especially for a profession he considers noble, but he does not have much leeway, since it is the State that decides budget envelopes. The school board's current budget is nearly three billion dollars.
Vicki Kreidel has a better idea for upgrading the profession. We want lawmakers to raise educator salaries by 20% statewide, support staff to get a minimum wage of $20 an hour, and a class limit of 20 students. . Wishes in which she herself does not really believe…
In the meantime, many students still hope to have a regular and qualified teacher in their class by the end of the year.