Oct 26, 2019

America's massive teacher shortage is stunting student learning

Chicago public school teachers and their supporters picket on Oct. 17. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

There's a shortfall in education across the U.S., with more than 300,000 unfilled public teaching jobs needed to keep up with enrollment, according to an analysis from the Economic Policy Institute.

Driving the news: 25,000 Chicago Public School teachers have been on strike for more than a week, asking for capped class sizes, higher salaries and more hiring capacity for teachers' assistants and nurses. The number of teachers picketing hit a 7-year high, according to BLS data.

The big picture: State and local governments cut education budgets during the recession, which forced many educators to take part-time jobs, organize walkouts for better conditions or leave the field altogether, the EPI report shows.

  • Last year, teachers quit at the fastest rate ever recorded due to unsatisfactory wages, leaving school districts to cope with surging student enrollment.

Why it matters: The lack of teachers is stunting student learning, as growing class sizes are becoming unmanageable learning environments, and teacher aides are in short supply. Meanwhile, educators are strapped for time and resources to create more individualized lesson plans and volunteer for extracurricular activities.

What to watch: Several 2020 Democratic candidates have announced support for raising teachers' wages and better classroom resources.

  • Sens. Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders want to give teachers a base pay increase.
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden offered up a plan to compensate teachers for extra work completed outside the classroom, such as mentoring or coaching. He also wants to double the number of school psychologists, guidance counselors, nurses, social workers and other health care professionals.
  • Separately, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.) introduced legislation that would put $603 million into teacher salaries to boost the minimum pay to $47,500, the Tampa Bay Times reports. If approved, Florida's teacher pay will be one of the highest in the U.S., the governor's office said.

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Updates: George Floyd protests enter 12th day

Protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 6. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Tens of thousands of demonstrators are rallying in cities across the U.S. and around the world to protest the killing of George Floyd. Huge crowds have assembled in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Chicago for full-day events.

Why it matters: Twelve days of nationwide protest in the U.S. has built pressure for states to make new changes on what kind of force law enforcement can use on civilians and prompted officials to review police conduct.

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In photos: People around the world rally against racism

Despite a ban on large gatherings implemented in response to the coronavirus pandemic, protesters rally against racism in front of the American Embassy in Paris on June 6. Photo: Julien Mattia/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Tens of thousands of people have continued to rally in cities across the world against racism and show their support this week for U.S. demonstrators protesting the death in police custody of George Floyd.

Why it matters: The tense situation in the U.S. has brought the discussion of racism and discrimination onto the global stage at a time when most of the world is consumed by the novel coronavirus.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 6,852,810 — Total deaths: 398,211 — Total recoveries — 3,071,142Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7:30 p.m. ET: 1,917,080 — Total deaths: 109,702 — Total recoveries: 500,849 — Total tested: 19,778,873Map.
  3. Public health: Why the pandemic is hitting minorities harder — Coronavirus curve rises in FloridaHow racism threatens the response to the pandemic Some people are drinking and inhaling cleaning products in attempt to fight the virus.
  4. Tech: The pandemic is accelerating next-generation disease diagnostics — Robotics looks to copy software-as-a-service model.
  5. Business: Budgets busted by coronavirus make it harder for cities to address inequality Sports, film production in California to resume June 12 after 3-month hiatus.
  6. Education: Students and teachers flunked remote learning.