Empty Classrooms, Abandoned Kids: Inside America’s Great Teacher Resignation


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Empty Classrooms, Abandoned Kids: Inside America’s Great Teacher Resignation

Nov. 18, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET
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Video by Agnes Walton and Nic Pollock

Ms. Walton is a producer with Opinion Video. Mr. Pollock is a producer and editor.

A survey of National Education Association members at the beginning of the year revealed an unsettling truth: More than half of the respondents said they were looking for a way out. That’s an astounding number of unhappy teachers. If they all quit, it would leave millions of students in the lurch.

But were these just empty threats? At the start of this school year, we spoke to over 50 educators in almost 20 states to find out. The picture they painted was far bleaker than we could have imagined: Empty classrooms, kids in crisis, and teachers who can’t survive another day on the job — that’s the reality of American education today.

In the Opinion Video above, six educators explain why they, and the American education system, are at breaking point.

Across the country, teachers are walking out en masse. Empty slots for jobs from teacher to bus driver and custodian aren’t being filled, and schools are scrambling to find substitutes.

Those who stay are sacrificing preparation time to cover classes, taking on extra students and extra tasks. We heard of vice principals doing yard work, counselors on lunch duty, teachers mopping floors. It’s an exhausting and destructive spiral. As people burn out and leave, conditions worsen for those who stay.

In this video, we argue that the nation’s politicians, who’ve neglected and underfunded education for years, and scored cheap political points vilifying teachers, have condemned a generation of young Americans to disrupted learning and empty classrooms, and left them with the feeling that nobody really cares.

Agnes Walton (@AgnesBridge) is a producer with Opinion Video. Nic Pollock (@nicpollock) is a documentary producer and editor.

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