Solving the teacher retention crisis: Give teachers the respect they deserve

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When the Texas American Federation of Teachers (AFT) surveyed its members in November, an astounding 66% of teachers and school staff who responded said they were considering leaving their profession. And that was before the Omicron COVID surge in January and before the devastating attack on the elementary school in Uvalde, Texas. 

Yes, low pay and overwork were the two most significant pressures pushing them to leave at that point. Most other states are experiencing the same challenges in retaining teachers. We’ve known that even before the chaos and instability of the pandemic, educators were suffering from overwork and low wages. But the pandemic exacerbated the problem and brought us to the crises we face now for teacher retention.

Other layers causing stress also contribute to teachers questioning their profession. You have the excessive test prep and punitive standardized testing system. There are the constant attacks from some elected officials branding teachers as pedophiles, groomers, indoctrinators, or librarians as purveyors of pornography. And now, tragically, there’s fear—the fear that inaction from our leaders will make their schools targets for mass shootings. 

Using data starting in 2010, Texas AFT and Every Texan evaluated how salaries kept

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