DENVER — An internal survey from the Colorado Education Association (CEA) reveals nearly 40% of their members are considering leaving teaching after the 2020-2021 school year.
The top reasons given included: an unrealistic workload, potentially unsafe working conditions during the pandemic and low pay, according to the CEA, the state's largest union of educators.
A veteran teacher at Colfax Elementary in Denver, Ann Franco, told the CEA she originally planned to retire at the end of the 2021-2022 school year, but now plans to retire this year.
“I don’t feel supported in my classroom and the state and district repeatedly demand more of us without providing resources," Franco said. "The paltry pay increase I receive every year doesn’t offset the continually increasing demands placed on me. Tell me another profession that requires so much with such little respect in return.”
Amie Baca-Oehlert, high school counselor and president of the CEA, said the COVID-19 pandemic didn't create the current funding issues, but rather exacerbated problems public education has been seeing since 2009.
The CEA released their 2021 legislative agenda last month. Increasing revenue is their top priority, as well as promoting justice and equity, promoting professional growth, helping educators achieve more time and autonomy to focus on teaching and protecting health and safety.
The CEA called on legislators to help avert what they're calling a "crisis of educators leaving the profession" through three strategies:
- Increase revenue and pay down the deficit to provide critical resources for instruction, textbooks and mental health support.
- Ensure safety, particularly during the pandemic, by providing PPE, COVID tests, vaccines, cohorting and other safety measures.
- Postponing standardized testing to allow teachers to focus on a instruction and students to focus on learning and their mental health.
“When educators don’t feel supported, they leave. When educators leave, students suffer," said Baca-Oehlert. "It’s as simple as that.”