Teacher shares reasons for resigning amid statewide shortage

Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 5:49 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Districts across the state are in dire need of more teachers. We’ve been in touch with several districts both large and small regarding teacher retention.

Springville had 4 teachers resign, that’s actually down from the year prior when that district saw 6 resignations. Lisbon had 7 resignations. Meanwhile the Dubuque Community School District, which is larger, saw 49 resignations and 13 retirements. The Cedar Rapids Community School District had 105 teachers resign and 26 retirements, and Iowa City Schools saw 55 resignations and 15 retirements.

Jessica Camacho taught 15 years in the Cedar Rapids Community School District, even earning teacher of the year in 2019. She says she’ll miss the kids, but the increasing responsibilities put on teachers combined with a lack of support became too much.

”I would knock of the door of my administration or call the district offices and I felt like they were more annoyed that I was asking for help,” Camacho explained.

She says there was a lack of breaks, supplies, and support from both the district and the local union.

”From my first year to my last year I lost about 75 minutes of prep time,” Camacho said.

Districts across the state are seeing teachers quit. It’s something the Iowa State Education Association is noticing. That’s the teachers union representing 50,000 contracts across Iowa.

”We are seeing folks who are mid-career who typically have been very dedicated and committed to a lifelong career of educating children, they’re leaving. And then folks who are on the other end, who are near retirement are taking retirement earlier,” said Mike Beranek, President of the ISEA.

He says there are several factors involved. Those include a lack of support and a negative narrative toward educators which is hurting moral. Teachers are also losing prep time to fill in as substitutes for other classes and are often stretched thin.

”I would purposely dehydrate myself so I couldn’t didn’t leave the classroom and I mean that wasn’t healthy. There’s lots of unhealthy things happening,” said Camacho.

Most districts we spoke with say the number of resignations they’re seeing isn’t unusual compared to previous years. But there are fewer people entering the field to fill openings.

The Iowa City Community School District believes measures taken last year, are helping them start this year in a comfortable position.

”Some of the things we did early on with the ESSER funding in regards to reducing class sizes last year, so we brought on a larger teacher class than we typically would last year and that’s really helped us this year as well,” Nick Proud said, Human Resource Officer at ICCSD.

The ISEA says districts are having to make adjustments to fill openings, and when it comes to retention teachers need to feel supported.

”I’m asking folks in their communities to help support our schools and allow the professionals that work in these positions to do their jobs that they were trained to do,” said Beranek.

The Cedar Rapids Community School District sent us a statement regarding retention and recruitment.

“There is a nationwide staff shortage within just about every school district. CRCSD, as the second largest school district in Iowa, is also facing challenging staff shortages. As of July 28, 2022, CRCSD has 30 teaching positions open. In these challenging times, our building administrators and teachers step up to determine how to best serve our students and community. Additionally, we have several support positions like transportation, food and nutrition, and para educators that are open. CRCSD is implementing several short and long term strategies to close the staffing shortage gap. These include conducting extensive recruiting, offering extra incentives, building substitute pools, asking retired teachers to return, and combining classes if needed. A long-term strategy is our partnership with the LIFE program at the University of Dubuque. This program helps current employees become certified teachers within CRCSD,” said Linda Noggle, Executive Director of Talent Management.

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