Truck drivers are paid more than teachers. Why America's educators are leaving classrooms.
America is in crisis this holiday season. Why? Because we may not have enough truckers to deliver our gifts in time. To calm a stressed- out nation, President Joe Biden said this fall he might call up the National Guard (the White House quickly backed off from that idea).
Wouldn’t it be great if the federal government could help fix the supply-chain problem in our schools, too?
Yes, what the world needs now is more teachers and truckers. But while our students will likely recover just fine if all their gifts don’t make it in time for the holidays, they – and the communities they call home – will be hurt for the long term if we don’t find new ways to recruit and retain more educators.
How bad is it? Schools across the nation are being forced to close temporarily because faculty and staff are exiting the profession. There aren’t enough substitute teachers to fill in now – or in the foreseeable future – and the talent pipeline is drying up as fewer people enroll in teacher certification programs.
The most important piece in ensuring we have enough teachers is compensation, and educators have suffered under years of stagnant wage growth. Now, with the inflation rate at a 30-year high of 6.2%, modest pay increases are offset by the rising cost of living.
I applaud school districts that were able to provide special incentives and pay rate bumps, but district administrators know this isn’t enough.
According to Truck Driver Salary, Wal-Mart truck drivers now make $86,000 annually. By comparison, salary.com says teachers with college degrees average from $53,489 to $70,681 a year.