Teachers Are Leaving D.C. Schools

10% of DC teachers resigned during the 2021-2022 school year alone setting the stage for a foreboding school year in the nation's capital.

By Jessica Marie Baumgartner | Published

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DC teachers

Nearly 10% of Washington DC area teachers resigned during the last school year. Added stress and teacher burnout has highly contributed to this phenomenon. As districts across the nation struggle to keep teachers and fill vacant teaching positions, the capital city is displaying the obvious issues plaguing American schools which must be addressed and remedied for the public school system to thrive. 

Before the pandemic, the US was experiencing a teacher shortage. In 2015 less than 10% of students wished to obtain a teaching degree, and by 2018 the media was warning that the teacher shortage would only get worse. At the start of the 2019-2020 school year, schools were already so desperate for teachers that they were seeking applicants from other countries. Then during the pandemic, politicians and powerful teachers unions and school boards colluded to lockdown schools and mask children long after it was determined that COVID-19 wasn’t harmful to children, or as deadly to the general public as predicted. Plus, the myth that children spread the virus and make it more deadly to adults has been debunked by numerous studies. Now DC teachers are experiencing the long-term effects of isolating children and it’s impairing their ability to remain in the profession. 

The effects of isolation are well known and were increasingly reported on during the pandemic. Loneliness and social isolation increase the physical risks of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and even death. While many officials didn’t take this into consideration when closing schools, as children are less likely to suffer from these health problems, the psychological issues caused by isolation are much more concerning — especially for children. Students who were closed off from the world and then masked are more likely to experience anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, and suicidal thoughts. Now that students have returned to class, teachers are not only having to take on more work due to staffing shortages, but they are dealing with psychologically unwell students who are distracted, and sometimes even turn violent. This has been reported by DC area teachers as they walk away from the situation. 

Although many educators enter the profession hoping to mold young minds and create a brighter future, the country is currently in the midst of a national emergency in youth mental health. During the pandemic, youth suicide attempts rose by just over 50% and students are struggling with mental and behavioral issues now more than ever. School violence is increasing and understaffed schools are not offering teachers the proper support needed to help their students because no amount of pay raises and bonuses has drawn in applicants to fill vacant positions. During the 2021-2022 school year alone 284 DC teachers resigned. That is out of around 3,000 teachers in the district. 

DC teachers

When nearly 10% of teachers are quitting, schools cannot properly meet students’ needs. The teacher shortage has been an issue for years but now that the full effects of excessive pandemic protocols have added additional stress in the classroom, the country is facing a teaching crisis in addition to a crisis in childhood mental health. As teachers quit, students continue to suffer. The public education system is imploding, and families are seeking alternative options at record rates. DC teachers are just one example of the hardship districts are facing, and until sound long-term changes are made this isn’t likely to change.