EDUCATION Complex problem with finding staff

It makes sense that schools wouldn’t be immune to the hiring struggles that have plagued the private sector for the past several months.

But the shortage of everything from teachers to bus drivers is a vexxing problem for a country that has decided, after a year of pandemic-driven online learning, that it is preferable to have students in the classroom instead of on the other end of an electronic device.

Many of those students have fallen behind due to the pandemic.

Much like the workforce issues we have seen throughout society, what’s happening in schools likely has many causes. Part of the problem may be pay and benefits, particularly for those just starting out in teaching who have to work toward their masters degrees.

Speaking of the educational attainment, it’s possible some of the problem is state and federal requirements for these jobs. Requirements for certain types of degrees and licenses, drug tests and fingerprint tests all add up, and some people simply decide working for a school isn’t worth the hassle.

The atmosphere in schools could also be part of the problem. The process schools use to discipline children — in some cases hardly disciplining them at all — could be prompting people to leave the classroom early or to never enter a classroom in the first place.

It’s a complex problem that, in our view, comes down to more than just throwing more money at prospective teachers, substitutes, non-teaching positions and bus drivers. We saw last year that online learning has a ways to go before it is a viable option for many children. But it may be the only option if we can’t boost the number of people who want to work in a classroom.

It’s time to take politics out of this equation. It’s time for those who set education policy in New York state to listen to the issues bus drivers, paraprofessionals and teachers have and work with school districts to solve them.


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