School fights, teacher shortages: US education in ‘crisis’


School classroom with blackboard (Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — School fights are so prevalent these days, there are social media accounts devoted to in-school fight videos. It serves as an incredible challenge for administrators, and it’s exacerbated by a major teacher shortage. The National Education Association is now calling it a crisis.

Video shows the latest violent symptom of the chronic teacher shortage problem for school districts across the country. In this case, sixth graders were brawling inside a middle school in Antioch, California. A parent says the teacher didn’t show up for work and no substitute was provided.

“The fact that there was no teacher there, that’s the whole problem with all of this,” the parent said. “My concern is that my child is not getting an education, not an academic education, maybe an education in how to fight.”

There has been a blitz of brawls across the nation over the past two years with students, parents and educators partly blaming the unprecedented stress of the pandemic.

Near Portland, Oregon, one district shut down for a week in December due to too much fighting. The NEA says schools are simply underfunded and understaffed.

“We need a counselor in every school, we need a nurse in every school, we need a reading specialist in every school, so our kids have an opportunity to learn from some of the things that they may have missed over the last two years and to have that additional support,” said Karen White, deputy executive director of the NEA.

The surge in behavioral problems coincides with a steady wave of teacher retirements and fewer joining the ranks. A big reason for that? Low salaries.

According to the NEA, teacher pay adjusted for inflation is at its lowest level since the great recession. The average starting annual salary last year was less than $42,000.

“When you look at the salary and you look at their ability to take care of their own families, maybe to rent an apartment or buy a car or travel to where their jobs are, they aren’t able to do that and pay their student loan debt, which is a huge problem,” White explained.

The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education reports an 11 percent drop in undergraduates going into teaching since the pandemic.

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