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The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The Student News Site of Colorado State University

The Rocky Mountain Collegian

Meltzner: America desperately needs to fix its education system

A+professor+teaches+in+a+large+classroom+with+clearly+marked+seats+for+students+to+ensure+social+distancing+Sept.+1%2C+2020.

Collegian | Pratyoosh Kashyap

A professor teaches in a large classroom with clearly marked seats for students to ensure social distancing Sept. 1, 2020.

JD Meltzner, Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

When the world began to reopen following the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in late 2020, there was a need in many industries and sectors for support systems — both in the aspects of finance and general operations — to help these industries reemerge from the worldwide closures amid the pandemic.

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Many industries, like business, entertainment and service, received ample support plans from the government and other industry-specific associations to help jump-start their individual economies. However, one industry in America has been woefully under-supported during the past two years of restimulation: the education sector.

Perhaps it is because it is not really an industry at all and thus cannot stimulate the economy like the business and service sectors. Education initiatives routinely receive little financial support and have been undervalued by the American government during the pandemic.

Attempting to teach the youth of the nation is already a very daunting task, and the pandemic has only increased its difficulty by forcing teachers to completely revamp their style of teaching, their lesson plans and almost every other aspect of their jobs to conform with online classes and other pandemic caused restrictions.

“There is a newly emerging trend in America that is seeing a mass of public school educators quitting their jobs to seek employment in the private sector.”

One would think that because of both the difficulty of the job and the huge impact COVID-19 has had on teachers in particular, there would be a push to establish support systems that are directly involved in making life easier for teachers and ensuring that America’s education system doesn’t fall by the wayside due to COVID-19. However, it is sadly the opposite, and according to NBC News, “55% of public school teachers, administrators and other staff said they were planning to leave the field sooner than they’d planned because of the crushing additional stresses brought on by the pandemic.” 

It isn’t teachers alone who are recognizing the government’s lack of attention to the education sector, as the United States Secretary of Education Miguel A. Cardona even wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Education imploring that changes be made to the education system on the ground level by asking for increases in educator salary, more support for substitute teachers, better working conditions and a drive to financially invest in the education sector to stimulate its growth. 

It seems, though, that these suggested changes are taking too long to implement — or they should have been implemented before the pandemic even started because there is a newly emerging trend in America that is seeing a mass of public school educators quitting their jobs to seek employment in the private sector.

This is seemingly due to both increased stresses brought on by the pandemic as well as the historically underpaid and undervalued nature of the job. The worst part is that the teachers who are staying behind are reporting increasing levels of dissatisfaction with their jobs.

“We have reached a point where we can either continue in this downward spiral of the education system and remain in an inert state of mediocrity, or we can take this moment as a sign of what it truly is: an institutionalized lack of care given to education that not only has brought the nation’s educational standards down but also seeps into the culture, positing education as a nonessential or unnecessary aspect of life.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, RTA, an Arizona software company, is reporting that “30% of the resumes (they have) received in recent months come from teachers,” as educators are flocking to the private sector to promises of higher salaries, more support and better hours. 

That same article reports that “more than 900,000 people … quit jobs in state and local education last year,” while “resignations from private education … neared 600,000.” These teachers are often taking jobs in training positions, offering them the chance to still educate others while receiving the support and pay they deserve.

This new trend of teachers leaving the education sector to go work for businesses that actually value their abilities may be caused by the pandemic at first glance, but it is indicative of a trend in American society to disregard the importance of education and teaching future generations in favor of more economically weighty industries.

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We’re talking about an education system with a long record of income disparity and racial inequality along with just simply being historically undervalued and pushed aside. 

The point of the matter is this: This trend of teachers leaving their jobs to find better work is not just a flash in the pan or a post-COVID-19 side effect. It is, rather, that we have reached a tipping point in our society with concerns about education.

We have reached a point where we can either continue in this downward spiral of the education system and remain in an inert state of mediocrity, or we can take this moment as a sign of what it truly is: an institutionalized lack of care given to education that not only has brought the nation’s educational standards down but also seeps into the culture, positing education as a nonessential or unnecessary aspect of life.

It’s time to change our education system, America. Please — wake up and smell the roses before it’s too late. 

Reach JD Meltzner at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @jd_meltzner.

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