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The NEA Has Known Why There is a Teacher Shortage Since 2014

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Ridgewood NJ, If New Jersey wants more teacher candidates, maybe we should listen to what young teachers actually say about their profession. Why is there a teacher shortage? It turns out the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association (NEA), knew the answer all along: young teachers were dissatisfied with the teaching profession and made their reasons very clear to the NEA in a 2014 report. This information is highly relevant to New Jersey’s current teacher shortage. There has been a lively public debate about the causes of the shortage, and it is essential to identify the causes if there are to be effective solutions. Some blame pandemic-related factors, but the steep decline in teacher candidates long predates the pandemic. Others blame policies enacted by Governor Chris Christie, but the teacher shortage is both regional and national, so New Jersey-specific policies cannot be the main cause. The Sunlight Policy Center of New Jersey – a New Jersey-based, nonpartisan research organization – asked: Is the nature of employment in the public school system, itself, part of the problem?

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The Sunlight Policy Center discovered a 2014 study by the NJEA’s national parent, the National Education Association (NEA), in which young teachers were asked why they were disengaged from the union.  It turns out the young teachers were focused on students and instruction while the union was focused on politics.

In the report, the teachers said:

“[T]he NEA places far greater emphasis on ‘bread and butter’ issues and broader political advocacy than instructional issues.”
 
And they found the union-dominated system valued egalitarianism and seniority while they valued teaching skills and knowledge:
 
“Faced with an antiquated system that values seniority, egalitarianism … early career teachers choose to disengage rather than try and fight an uphill battle against the values largely embraced by current union structures and programs.”
 
The NJEA and NEA did not listen to their  own teachers.  The union-dominated system remains the same.  Politics and seniority rule.  Is it any surprise that the younger generation does not find teaching to be an attractive career?

2 thoughts on “The NEA Has Known Why There is a Teacher Shortage Since 2014

  1. Maybe it’s just that teachers don’t want to be forced to groom children…

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    1. Amen.

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