Education Secretary Blames Teacher Shortage On Lack Of Respect

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona blamed the national teacher shortage on a lack of respect for educators.

By Erika Hanson | Published

National Teacher Unions Have Lost 200,000 Members

Miguel Cardona

Anyone with access to the news is sure to have seen at least one headline discussing the national teacher shortage. Some fear this is a serious situation foreshadowing a major fallout in America’s education system. Others say reports are being overblown. The nation’s Education Secretary, Miguel Cardona, is one such person that believes the issue is a major concern. He has discussed it in the past and is once again talking about the matter, saying a lack of respect for educators is leading the mass exodus. 

Miguel Cardona sat down for an interview with Chuck Todd on NBC’s Meet The Press this past Sunday. Speaking on various educational matters heading into a new school year, he talked about pressing matters such as the looming announcement from President Biden on student loan forgiveness, and the heavily reported teacher shortage. The TV journalist asked the education official what kind of “damage” the teacher shortage will have on students. Getting right into the thick of the situation, Cardona responded by saying, “Well, if you’ve heard my interviews, you’ve heard me say this teacher shortage issue is a symptom of what I call a teacher respect issue. ”

The secretary of education went on to address the current state of education, discussing how teachers are viewed with little regard by many groups of activists, lawmakers, and individuals across the nation. Adding to missing respect for the profession, he noted how little educators make in the career field when compared to other college-educated jobs. Miguel Cardona states that teachers have made a mere $29 salary increase over the last few decades when adjusted for inflation. 

What’s more, Miguel Cardona discussed the lack of respect and pay being displayed by the countless teachers that take on second jobs just to make ends meet. The 47-year-old said that many school teachers drive Ubers, pick up restaurant shifts, and other various part-time positions to stay afloat. One poll estimated that more than half of teachers nationwide take on second jobs.

During the brief interview, Miguel Cardona claimed that respect is something educators have been fighting to achieve for decades. However, many feel that the last few years have exacerbated the rate at which teachers are being ousted and ridiculed for the way they run classrooms. Popular social media accounts such as Libs Of TikTok have grown masses of followers because of their showcase of teachers that bring controversial LGBTQ+ discussions into school settings.

Libs of TikTok, which now has more than 1.3 million followers, has gained a massive following from far-right parents and similar individuals that vehemently oppose discussions of gender identity and sexuality in schools. The account scours the internet for videos of alleged educators and exposes them for discussing matters that involve these topics. Oftentimes, teachers are labeled groomers and pedophiles for supporting the LGBTQ+ community. Sticking with Miguel Cardona’s leading notion on the teacher shortage, multiple teachers have left the profession this year because of death threats and extensive ridicule in their communities. 

Despite a lack of respect, Miguel Cardona remains stoic on the grave situation with a positive outlook heading into the new school year. “This is going to be a great year,” he said. The education secretary also made note that states are ramping up efforts to address the teacher shortage. Some have passed legislation giving educators their biggest pay raises in decades. Additionally, he said that states are utilizing COVID relief funds to create apprenticeship programs to make the path to teaching more attainable. However, if America keeps heading in the direction it is projected to in regards to the teaching profession, more respect, among plenty of other things, will all need to be addressed in order to turn the situation around.