St. Joseph’s School District offers bonuses of $ 1,000 to teachers who sign a letter of intent stating they will return next school year.
Teachers are leaving the profession en masse across the country. Some states are starting incentive programs to keep educators around. In St. Joseph, teachers will need to sign up by March 1 to demand encouragement.
School districts across the United States are facing a shortage of teachers due to the pandemic.
J. Eric Simmons, president of the National Education Association of St. Joseph, explains why educators are leaving the profession.
“There are so many different reasons a person may want to leave,” he said. “But it comes down to the fatigue our educators have felt over the last few years. And at this point we are beginning to see that education is becoming the target of various politicians and states across the country and even some here in our Missouri legislature. And so all of these factors influence the decisions of our educators to stay in the profession and stay here in St. Joe’s. ”
NEA has more than 3 million educators from across the country. According to a NEA poll from January 2022, more than 55% of members said that because of the pandemic they plan to leave education earlier than planned.
Before the pandemic, there were about 567,000 more educators in public schools than there are now.
Such statistics are because school districts encourage teachers to stay.
Simmons said he has hope that this incentive will affect teacher retention. Lori Whitham, a member of the St. Joseph Board of Education, said she agreed.
“I think it’s a great opportunity … It makes it a little easier to build directors and the need for interviews and finding a replacement,” she said. “I think it’s a plus, it’s a positive.”
Not only are many teachers leaving the profession, but fewer students are going into education. Some universities no longer provide a primary education program due to lack of enrollment.
While Simmons sees in encouraging St. Joseph a step in the right direction for education, he believes more needs to be done.
“But I would also urge our district and other districts across the state and nation to extend this to our low-paid employees, our paraprofessionals, our secretaries, and others who are literally educators themselves but do not offer these kinds of incentives.” he said. “Their work is so difficult and they are one of the lowest paid in the whole district. And so they also deserve the opportunity to show respect and support by encouraging them to stay with our district. ”