Between COVID-19 and layoffs, schools may not have enough teachers to get through the year

疫情加上裁员,学校可能没有足够的教师来撑过这一年


(A sign announces that the Las Vegas Academy is closed on July 22 in Las Vegas. Clark County school trustees cited fears of spreading the coronavirus and unanimously decided to begin the 2020-2021 school year using distance education.)

(位于拉斯维加斯的一块宣布拉斯维加斯学院于7月22日关闭的标志牌。克拉克县学校的理事们担疫情会传播,一致决定2020-2021学年开始时采用远程教育。)
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In Las Vegas, where more than 1 in 6 workers are now unemployed, Fernando Valenzuela decided to quit his job this summer. He’s one of nearly 4,300 substitute teachers in the Clark County School District earning roughly $100 per day, without sick leave or health coverage.

在拉斯维加斯,现在有超过六分之一的工人失业,佛南度·瓦伦苏拉决定在今年夏天辞职。他是克拉克县学区近4300名代课教师之一,这些老师每天收入约100美元,没有病假,也没有医疗保险。

Though Valenzuela, who filled a full-time teaching vacancy at the Nevada Learning Academy, earned a bit more – $120 a day – than the Clark County average, it was still not enough for him to brave the risks of working at a school during the escalating coronavirus pandemic.

瓦伦苏拉填补了内华达教育学院的全职教师空缺,虽然他每天的收入比克拉克县的平均水平多一点——120美元,但在冠状病毒不断升级的大流行期间,这仍然不足以让他冒在学校工作(而感染病毒)的风险。

“It’s frustrating,” Valenzuela said. “It’s been almost 20 years since our last raise. … As much as I love working with these kids, it’s not worth it to me. I’m 29. I’m healthy. But there’s still people dying out there at my age.”

“这令人沮丧,”瓦伦苏拉说。“我们上次加薪已经快20年了……虽然我很喜欢和这些孩子们一起工作学习,但对我来说不值得。我29岁。我是健康的。但还是有人在我这个年纪(得肺炎)死了。”


Those patchwork solutions, however, may be in jeopardy, as the ongoing pandemic and deepening recession throw new challenges at school districts trying to stanch teacher shortages across the country.

然而,这些零零散散的解决方案可能面临危险,因为持续的流行病和不断加深的经济衰退给试图解决全国教师短缺问题的学区带来了新的挑战。


And for those teachers willing to return to the classroom – whether virtually or in person – pink slips may be coming later this year. The massive layoffs predicted at the start of the pandemic haven’t happened – yet. But experts say as the economic crisis decimates state tax revenue and forces states to slash budgets, it’s more and more likely the nation won’t have enough teachers to staff schools even once reopening is safe.

而对于那些愿意重返课堂的教师们——无论是通过网络还是亲自前往授课——解雇通知书可能会在今年晚些时候到来。在大流行开始时预测的大规模裁员还没有发生。但专家表示,由于经济危机削减了各州的税收收入,迫使各州削减预算,即使重新开学,美国也越来越有可能(因为缺钱导致)没有足够的教师来为学校提供师资。

“Without a (federal) rescue package, the layoffs are coming, even if they’re not happening right away in September,” said Dan Goldhaber, director of the Center for Education Data and Research at the University of Washington. “Across the country, school districts are wrestling with this now.”

华盛顿大学教育数据和研究中心主任丹·歌德哈伯称:“如果没有(联邦)救助计划,裁员就会到来,即使9月还不会马上发生。全国各地的学区都在努力解决这个问题。”

The state of the workforce has long been shaky. Roughly 1 in 7 teachers transfers or quits after the conclusion of each academic year, while teacher prep programs have seen a steady decline in enrollment.

劳动力的状况一直不稳定。每学年结束后,大约有七分之一的教师会转学或离职,而教师准备项目的进入人数也在稳步下降。


In Clark County – the nation’s fifth-largest school district, with about 330,000 students – classes resumed Aug. 24 with just over 400 vacant teaching positions – down from about 750 in July, according to a district spokesperson.

在克拉克县(全国第五大学区,约有33万名学生),据该学区发言人称,8月24日开学,教师空缺从7月的750名下降到400多名。

As of mid-August, 21 of the 25 largest school districts in the country, including Clark County, had decided to start the year with remote learning only, according to Education Week research. But Clark County leaders will revisit the decision every 30 days, worrying immunocompromised educators like Leslie Stevenson.

据《教育周刊》的调查,截至8月中旬,美国25个最大的学区中,有21个,包括克拉克县,已经决定在今年开始时只支持远程教学。但克拉克县的领导人每隔30天就会重新审视这个决定,这让像莱斯利·史蒂文森这样免疫系统受损的教育者感到担忧。

She’s one of many teachers in Las Vegas who filed paperwork with the district to document their existing health conditions, in hopes of claiming a permanent remote assignment when students return to school in person. For Stevenson, the death to COVID-19 of Nick Cordero, a 41-year-old Broadway actor, made the disease feel like more of a threat.

她是拉斯维加斯许多向学区提交了书面文件,记录自己目前的健康状况,希望在学生们亲自返校时获得永久的远程教育分配岗位的教师中的一位。对史蒂文森来说,41岁的百老汇演员尼克·科德罗死于新冠肺炎的消息,让这种疾病更像是一种威胁了。

“He was a healthy, relatively young Caucasian male with money. I’m none of those things,” she said. “If he perished, why should I feel safe?”

“他是一个健康、相对年轻、有钱的白人男性。我不是那种人,”她说。“如果他都死了,我凭什么会觉得安全?”

A risk of losing more ground

有丢失更多阵地的风险

In many places hit hardest by the pandemic, teacher shortages were already critical. In Mississippi, where some public health experts have warned that it’s too soon to return, almost two-thirds of the state’s school districts don’t have enough fully certified teachers or have so many at retirement age that they might not have enough in the near future, according to the state.

在受疫情影响最严重的许多地方,教师短缺问题已经十分严重。在密西西比州,一些公共卫生专家警告说,现在返校还为时过早,该州近三分之二的学区没有足够的合格教师,或者有太多达到退休年龄的教师,根据该州的说法,他们在不久的将来可能会人手不足。



If Wright is unable to hire enough special education teachers before school starts in September, he could reassign some general-education teachers to inclusion classrooms, or, as a “last-ditch effort,” find educators on a temporary license.

如果赖特不能在9月开学前雇佣到足够多的特殊教育教师,他可以重新安排一些普通教育教师到新班级,或者,作为“最后的努力”,找一些持有临时执照的教育工作者。

Hiring educators with temporary licenses, which usually means they haven’t gone through a teacher training program, is already common in Mississippi and throughout the South. The school systems Wright oversees have some of the highest percentages of provisionally licensed educators in the state.

在密西西比州和整个南部地区,聘用持有临时执照的教育工作者已经很普遍。临时执照通常意味着这些人没有接受过教师培训。赖特所监管的学校系统拥有全州最高比例的临时执照教育者。

“We run the risk of our students losing more ground than gaining, if we don’t do this the right way,” Wright said.

“如果我们不采取正确的措施,我们的学生可能会失去更多,而不是获得更多,”赖特说。

Risking lives for ‘near-poverty wages’

为了“接近贫困标准的工资”而冒生命危险

Substitute teachers have long been a Band-Aid in school districts desperate for teachers, but relying on subs can be bad for student achievement and now could add unexpected headaches.

在急需教师的学区,代课教师长期以来都是一种权宜之计,但依赖代课教师可能不利于学生的成绩,现在还可能带来意想不到的麻烦。


“We’re being asked to double if not triple the size of our talent pool just so the openings can be covered,” Soares said.

苏亚雷斯说:“我们被要求将人才库的规模扩大一倍,如果不是两倍的话,这样才能填补空缺。”


Substitute teachers tend to have less training. In Nevada, substitutes need only 60 hours of college credit – not necessarily in education or the subject they’re teaching – to take the reins of a classroom. Also, because they also don’t receive paid sick days in many districts, they are often reluctant to stay home if they feel ill. And substitutes who move from school to school to cover for absent teachers could spread the coronavirus between buildings.

代课教师往往接受的培训较少。在内华达州,代课老师只需要60个小时的大学学分——不一定是教育或他们所教的科目——就有可以掌控整个教室了。此外,由于在许多地区他们也没有带薪病假,所以如果他们生病了,往往不愿意呆在家里。而代课教师从一所学校到另一所学校去顶替缺席的老师,可能会在教学楼之间传播冠状病毒。



A threat of massive job losses

大量失业的威胁

Just how many students will start the new school year without a fully licensed teacher remains unclear. Before the pandemic, education experts and civil rights activists had long expressed outrage that the kids most at risk of falling behind are more likely to be taught by inexperienced or untrained teachers.

目前还不清楚有多少学生将在没有正式教师的情况下开始新学年。在大流行之前,教育专家和民权活动人士一直对最有可能落后的孩子更有可能由经验不足或未经培训的教师来授课表示愤怒。



Some schools of education in Mississippi saw an uptick in enrollment last spring after the state waived and then eliminated the Praxis Core, an exam measuring content knowledge in reading, writing and math, and ended the requirement that prospective teachers earn a score of at least a 21 on the ACT. More than 100 members of a summer alternate-route teachers prep program at the state’s largest historically Black college, Jackson State University, have already signed contracts to teach this semester, administrators reported.

密西西比州的一些教育学校在去年春天放弃并取消了实践核心课程(一项测试阅读、写作和数学知识的考试),并取消了未来教师在大学入学考试中至少得21分的要求后,入学人数出现了上升。管理人员称,该州最大的黑人大学——杰克逊州立大学的一个夏季替代教师预备项目的100多名学员已经签署了本学期的教学合同。



But Marguerite Roza, director of the Edunomics Lab, said teacher layoffs may dominate headlines over the next several months as districts spend down their cash reserves and states start axing their budgets.

但经济学实验室主任玛格丽特·罗扎表示,教师裁员可能会成为未来几个月的头条新闻,因为各学区会削减现金储备,各州也会开始削减预算。

“I actually think it could be as early as late fall – depending on when we get some clarity on federal money,” Roza said.

罗扎说:“实际上,我认为最早可能会在秋天晚些时候,这取决于我们什么时候能弄清楚联邦资金的用途。”

During the last recession, between 2008 and 2010, public schools shed more than 120,000 teaching positions, according to school finance expert Michael Griffith of the Learning Policy Institute. It would have been worse if the federal government had not extended nearly $100 billion in aid to schools: An additional 275,000 education jobs could have been lost.

学习政策研究所的学校财务专家迈克尔·格里菲斯表示,在上次的2008年至2010年经济衰退期间,公立学校裁减了超过12万个教师职位。如果此次联邦政府不向学校提供近1000亿美元的援助,情况可能会更糟:教育行业可能会失去27.5万个工作岗位。

Griffith notes that K-12 budgets reached their lowest point in 2010, two years after the recession began. This time, he said, the reduction in state education budgets could be much deeper. “Without the intervention of the federal government, hundreds of thousands of teachers could lose their jobs,” he wrote.

格里菲斯指出,“12年教育”预算在经济衰退开始两年后的2010年达到了最低点。这一次,他说,国家教育预算的削减幅度可能会更大。“如果没有联邦政府的干预,成千上万的教师可能会失去工作,”他写道。

In Washington, D.C., talks over another federal relief package and how much money to include for schools remain mired in partisan debate. Senate Republicans have pitched $70 billion for K-12 public and private schools, with much of it tied to conditions that they physically reopen. Democrats in the House of Representatives, meanwhile, included $58 billion for schools in the HEROES Act they passed in May. (Later, in June, Senate Democrats unveiled a separate proposal with $175 billion to help stabilize K-12 schools.)

在华盛顿特区,关于另一项联邦救助计划以及为学校提供多少资金的讨论仍然陷入党派之争的泥潭中。参议院共和党人已经为“12年教育”公立和私立学校拨款700亿美元,其中大部分与实际开学条件有关。与此同时,众议院的民主党人在五月份通过的《英雄法案》中为学校拨款580亿美元。(后来,在6月,参议院民主党人公布了一项单独的提案,用1750亿美元帮助稳定“12年教育”学校。)

“I would like to think we could somehow find a way to avoid teacher layoffs … especially in the context of needing more adults to help with the major needs that kids will have when they come back,” said Katharine Strunk, a professor of education policy at Michigan State University. But, she added, “unless there’s a huge federal infusion of money – which there should be – districts will have to think about layoffs.”

密歇根州立大学教育政策教授凯瑟琳·斯特伦克说:“我认为我们可以找到一种方法来避免教师下岗……尤其是在孩子们返校后需要更多成年人帮助解决他们的主要需求的情况下。”但是,她补充说,“除非有巨额的联邦资金注入——这也是应该注入的——否则各地区将不得不考虑裁员。”