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Low pay, stress and burnout: U.S. schools face severe teacher shortage

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Kindergarten teacher Natalie Tran is excited to be back in her Oakland, California, classroom with her 25 4-year-olds. But she’s not surprised that many other teachers across the country didn’t return for the upcoming school year. 

“We need higher pay,” she told CBS News. “We need more respect for the teaching profession because it’s extremely difficult, and we really need to have manageable class sizes.”

Nationwide, there are at least 280,000 fewer public school teachers than there were before the pandemic, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 

Florida is scrambling to fill 8,000 openings. In Illinois, 88% of school districts surveyed are battling a shortage. Arizona is approaching the new school year with more than 2,200 teacher vacancies. 

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Laura Francisco, associate superintendent of human resources for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, is busy trying to hire 373 teachers before school starts at the end of the month. 

“It’s a huge responsibility,” she said. 

To meet that goal, the district is offering extra cash to teachers. 

“Particularly in our special needs area and secondary math and science,” Francisco said. “And that’s a sign on incentive as well as additional monthly pay for as long as they remain in that position.”

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They aren’t the only ones sweetening the deal. Dallas, Texas, is offering as much as $3,500 to recruit and retain teachers. In California, a school district is providing below market-rate apartments to teachers. 

Still, three out of four educators surveyed would not recommend the job to others, according to the American Federation of Teachers, the nation’s second largest education union. 

“Teachers are twice as much, have twice as much stress as other workers in the workplace,” Randi Weingarten, president of the union, told CBS News. “So, yeah, teachers are burnt out.”

But the data shows schools have been struggling to hang onto teachers for decades, with under-resourced areas impacted the most. 

When asked which schools suffer the most, Dan Goldhaber, vice president of American Institutes for Research, said it’s “typically schools serving high poverty students and schools that are rural and relatively far away from teacher education programs.” 

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