Black and Hispanic teachers across the U.S. are leaving schools due to “pandemic-era burnout,” “low pay” and high-stress working environments, according to the Associated Press. The exodus is negatively impacting schools located in high-poverty neighborhoods, where there are “higher numbers of teachers of color.”
Teachers of color are also disproportionately impacted by layoffs. The report notes that the growing issue could be attributed to Black and Hispanic teachers having “less seniority” in schools. The glaring disparity varies from state to state.
Between 2021 and 2022, Black teachers in Pennsylvania “were more than twice as likely to leave the profession as white teachers.” Ed Fuller, a professor at Penn State, who analyzed the data, added that Hispanic and multiracial teachers were also around twice as likely to ditch their teaching positions.
Black and Hispanic teachers have a difficult time becoming certified. Fuller believes that this may be driving teachers of color to leave the classroom. “They’re in more precarious teaching positions, meaning you’re in a position with less resources and worse working conditions, so you’re more likely to quit no matter who you are,” Fuller added.
In Philadelphia, Black teachers appear to be dwindling in the classroom. According to the report, in the fall of 2022, the percentage of Black educators dropped below 23%.
Rhonda Hicks, a soon-to-be-retired public school teacher, said she loved her job and students, but her role became “a little stressful” when administrators began monitoring everything she did in the classroom.
“Sometimes the kids can be difficult. But it’s the higher-ups: ‘Do it this way or don’t do it at all,’” Hicks, 59, told the Associated Press.
She also claimed that she and other teachers of color were expected to “give more of themselves” on the job.“A lot of times when you see teachers that are saving Black and brown kids on TV, it’s always the white ones,” Hicks added. “There are Black teachers and Hispanic teachers out there that do the same thing in real life, all the time.”
According to a research study by Rand Corp, teachers reported higher rates of burnout between 2021 and 2022. Stress, disappointment with the job, salary, and number of working hours were the top reasons teachers quit their jobs.
Salary is also a factor.
Black and Brown teachers are also leaving the classroom due to low salaries. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary of a teacher in the U.S. is just over $61,000.
Now, some members of Congress are working hard to address the issue. In March, Sen. Bernie Sanders introduced the Pay Teachers Act, which would require states to establish a minimum salary of $60,000 for teachers.
In 2022, New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman joined forces with Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida to introduce the American Teacher Act. The bill would bring teachers’ pay up to a minimum of $60,000 using grant money from the Department of Education.
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