AACTE President and CEO Lynn M. Gangone and Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association, authored this article that originally appeared in the District Administration and is reprinted with permission.
Our nation’s education ecosystem is complex and multifaceted. When one component of the ecosystem is impacted, it creates a ripple effect that is felt throughout the entire system. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic created a tidal wave of uncertainties, resulting in budget cuts, teacher shortages, and remote learning challenges.
An ongoing concern for school districts, teacher shortages have now become more severe. Teachers are leaving the profession at an accelerated rate, due primarily to health concerns and budget furloughs, and forcing superintendents to close schools not because of infection, but due to a lack of personnel to keep them open. The shortage also expands beyond teachers. It includes bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians, and essential support staff. Such reductions, caused by budget cuts resulting from the pandemic, are having a crippling effect upon school districts, and increased operational costs are eroding critical funds necessary to hire the staff desperately needed for in-school instruction.