I'm curious to hear more about those conversations.
What are the kinds of things that teachers are saying about their rationale for quitting?
So, for example, I spent some time with a woman in Florida who was a teacher there and loved her job, but that person is married to a woman, and there was a law that came out in Florida very recently -- it took effect over the summer -- that limits instruction on LGBTQ issues.
And this woman just felt that it had become so fraught for her.
Like, if a student asks, you know, "How is your family?" and she says, "My wife is doing well," does that count as instruction on LGBTQ issues? Can she get a parent coming to the classroom and saying, "Oh, my gosh, you broke the rules"?
She just doesn't know.
And so with that level of uncertainty, coupled with honestly things about the teaching profession that had always been trouble spots -- lack of pay, long hours, really hard work -- this woman decided to quit.
I spoke to Leslie Houston, who is a special-education teacher in Fairfax County Public Schools in Northern Virginia.
She's also president of a teacher's group, the Fairfax Education Association.
And she said that she has never before ever seen so many teachers leaving the job because they feel just a total lack of respect.
I look back and I think now, back then, you know, we were never paid what we were worth.
And then, over the last couple of years, just such disrespect and disdain for teachers, I think, is causing this teacher shortage.
You had parents get up in front of school boards nationwide and say mean, hateful, and disparaging things about teachers.
You know, there were some times that I would drive up to school-board meetings, and I wouldn't go in because I didn't want to subject myself to that.
You know, listening to that, it really strikes me that Leslie says that she was never paid what she was worth, that teachers have never been paid what they were worth.
And I find it really interesting that, even though that has been the case for such a long time, that this country has undervalued teachers, at least financially,
that something has changed in these last couple of years that that, plus this feeling of disrespect or this feeling of being at the center of a lot of different conflicts that are happening in society, that that has really put things over the edge.