By the end of the school year, my colleagues and I were exhausted and demoralized. And while for a time it seemed that school employees were recognized as frontline workers soldiering on through the pandemic, we were christened lazy when we pushed back against the return to in-person learning without adequate safety measures.
It is 2023 now, and the teaching profession is crumbling under the weight of fabricated culture wars, severe underfunding, excessive standardized testing, and safety concerns. In the Charles Butt Foundation’s 2022 Texas Teacher Poll, it was reported that over 77% of educators considered leaving the profession in 2021. Out of that number, 93% of educators took at least one step to secure other means of employment. This could have looked like initiating a job search, preparing resumes and recommendation letters, or interviewing for other positions. I’d be remiss if I didn’t include myself in this group.
In mid-February, I traveled to Austin with a group of educators for Raise Your Hand Texas’s South Texas Teacher Advocacy Day. We met with state legislators to discuss our experiences in the classroom and share our priorities for the 88th legislative session. I listened to stories that felt all too familiar: working multiple jobs to get by, paying out of pocket for classroom resources, and struggling to tend to students’ mental health needs. By the end of the day, the resounding consensus from my colleagues was clear: we cannot have a quality public education system without adequate funding.