Florida’s teacher shortage: A response from a retired teacher to my op-ed in TCPalm.

On Wednesday, TCPalm.com published an op-ed I wrote titled “Florida’s teacher shortage is state’s most urgent education issue”. The piece was published in the print outlets associated with TCPalm on Friday morning. I received a response from Susan Auld, who lives in Hobe Sound but previously taught in Vermont and then a few years in Florida. I thought my regular blog readers would be interested in reading what Susan had to say, so here it is.

I must add a comment related to your “teacher shortage” in the Stuart News this morning. My first career was teaching and then after I retired and came to Florida I taught for a couple of years and then substituted. Spent a few years on a regional school board in another state. Right now I have an “older ladies” perspective based on some experience and news from conversations.

News travels – behavior and tolerated behavior in the classrooms has become a problem. It is a disincentive to young people coming into the profession. Talk to them – you will hear it. Sometimes it is not about salary. It is about behavior. Example: vacationing at Yellowstone a young man was carrying my bag and I engaged him in conversation. I learned that he wanted to become a teacher. He was in Phoeniz, AZ. Evidently the teachers’ union has the job of assigning teachers to classes. So the long time teachers got the pick of the classes there by assigning the new young teacher the worst classes – behavior was terrible. He asked for at least one better behaved classes each of the three years he stayed and he received no better behaved classes. So he left teaching to start his own tech company.

The subjects you mention where there are shortages are the most rigorous – science, math – does this have anything to do with the philosophy that we must make it “easier” on kids – whether parents want the good grades and these subjects don’t lead to high grades because they are more challenging than reading current day novels?

I certainly agree that we must work to improve the situation, attract young people into the profession. When you have a choice to work in science, where would you rather be? In a disruptive classroom or at a tech or science company? And we must all work together to improve this situation.

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