TAMPA, FL (FloridaToday.news) — A National Education Association survey shows that minority teachers leave the profession disproportionately, and educators believe that minority students are suffering as a result.
In the course of the survey, NEA interviewed 3,621 teachers in the United States. The main conclusions of the study are; Educator burnout is a top issue facing educators, black and Hispanic educators are leaving at a disproportionate rate, educators want higher salaries and more mental health resources, and more.
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The study found that 62% of black educators want to leave the profession, and 59% of Hispanic/Hispanic educators want to do the same. Hillsborough County teacher Liz Valdez agreed that burnout is a serious problem.
“Number of students enrolled in the English for Speakers of Other Languages” course [ESOL] The department should serve one teacher, one or two professional assistants, which is probably 30-40% of the school population,” Valdez said. “The more Hispanics helping and teaching, it not only helps the students, but also encourages them to want to become teachers.”
Valdes has been a teacher for 28 years. She currently teaches second grade at Pizzo Elementary School. While Valdes agrees with burnout, she also said minority teachers face even more challenges.
“As a minority teacher, we have to provide for our families,” Valdez said. “Many of us are intimidated by our language, our culture. What I feared most was whether I sounded right. Do I speak English correctly?”
In Hillsborough County, 32% of students are white, 38% of students are Hispanic/Latino, 21% are black, 4% are Asian or Asian Pacific Islander, and 4.9% are of two or more races. Valdez estimates that almost 60% of the district is made up of black or Hispanic students, the more minority faculty leave, the more minority students will be affected.
“There is a feeling that no one cares about them,” Valdez said. “There is a feeling that they are not important. There is a feeling that they will be stuffed into the classroom like sardines and have 29 or 30 children and not get the attention they deserve. It’s a domino effect. When you get pushed aside because of a language barrier, it seeps in over the years. What happens is that you translate that insecurity into feeling like I don’t care, go ahead and you end up dropping out of school.”
Valdez said that every student should have the same and equal opportunity, and as an educator she doesn’t want to get in the way of that.
“Change starts with administrators,” Valdez said. “We must have a strong administration. We also need to have parents. They are our community. We need to have parents who are involved, caring and part of the process.”
As of June, HCPS has 12,924 certified teachers. The FloridaToday.news is awaiting an answer on how many have left at the end of the 2022-23 school year.