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The broken school system: ‘We’re failing our students miserably’

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…It’s fueled a teacher shortage in which many like Wolfe have left to pursue other jobs where they feel more valued. Between the 2021-2022 school year and this year, turnover was the highest it has been in five years, according to nonprofit education news group Chalkbeat’s analysis of eight states. Researchers from Kansas State University estimate that there are at least 55,000 teacher vacancies as of August 2023—and that the shortage is worsening in several states.

“I feel like the profession of teaching is no longer a profession—it’s like something people do after college for a couple of years to figure out what they really want to do,” Wolfe says, explaining that they eventually leave because of a lack of respect, poor conditions, and paltry wages. “So we lose all that talent and our students lose.”

By the time she left teaching, Wolfe was earning $74,000 annually, which she calls “pretty good.” It was the poor conditions that ultimately made her quit, which she traces back to the way schools are run. She describes an environment that lacked safety and resources for students, teachers, and administrative staff alike.

“I was unable to spend quality time with my family and take care of my own needs due to the load of unpaid labor that had to be completed,” she says. “I could no longer participate in a system that is failing students and teachers to such a degree.”

‘We’re not making a product’

Part of the problem, if you ask Wolfe, is that schools are being treated like companies in an increasingly corporate world. That kind of system doesn’t take into account the socio-emotional needs of children, since there’s a focus on teaching children pre-professional skills meant for white-collar jobs, per the National Education Policy Center: “Corporate influence is expanding well into the earliest years of schooling, turning public schools into agents of surveillance capitalism rather than protected spaces for unfettered learning and personal and intellectual development.”

With school districts running schools on a business model, Wolfe says, funding meant to be invested in teachers and students often isn’t allocated toward children. “They’re sitting on all this capital, and they’re not doing anything with it,” she says. Much of the federal funding schools received during the pandemic is “earmarked for very specific things” she says, like improving buildings or air conditioning systems…

Are we failing at educating our children? How will this affect them when they become college age?

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A veteran teacher opens up about why the broken school system made her quit her ‘soul crushing’ job: ‘We’re failing our students miserably’ (

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