Jun 13, 2022 - News

The teachers are not alright

Illustration of a chalkboard in the shape of a battery with low power

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More than two weeks after 19 kids and two teachers were fatally shot at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas, local educators continue to grapple with the aftermath of the attack.

Why it matters: Teachers are role models and counselors for young people, yet the stress they endure is leading many to consider leaving their jobs.

  • A survey by the National Education Association released in February suggested more than half (55%) of educators were contemplating exiting the profession earlier than planned.

What they're saying: East High School social studies teacher Corey Wiggins, 32, said the frequency of mass shootings has desensitized these incidents for him to some extent, yet he called the shooting in Texas "horrifying."

  • "Teaching is so much more than just giving out content," he said.
  • He added that he's seen more teachers resign this year than ever before, which he thinks is due to a combination of stress and safety concerns.

Adriane Greene, 29, a teacher in training at Lowry Elementary School, has taught first graders the past two years. She didn't discuss the Uvalde shooting with students, but did her own processing over the incident.

  • "I think every teacher is forced to realize that it's a possibility at any school," Greene told Axios Denver.

Between the lines: Both Green and Wiggins conceded that the possibility of future violence in schools weighs on them.

  • "The response continues to be politicians doing a lot of lip service and nothing really happening," Wiggins told Axios Denver.
  • A bipartisan group of U.S. senators on Sunday revealed a package of gun safety measures, including enhancing background checks for people under age 21, Axios' Alayna Treene reports.

State of play: Two surveys of Denver teachers found feelings of burnout and distress were common, CPR News reported in March.

  • Some educators said they were on the verge of quitting. A lack of mental health support and a disconnect between school staff and central administration were cited as issues felt by many district teachers.
  • Denver Public Schools equity chief Anthony Smith told CPR he heard from teachers who said they wanted to feel valued, and "to want to know that our district cares about us, that our schools care about us. "

The big picture: Despite the stress, neither Green nor Wiggins said they want to leave their jobs.


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