The Left’s Plan to Drive a Huge Shortage of K-12 Teachers

Becky Pringle, NEA President

by James C. Sherlock

The left has designed Critical Race Theory (CRT) and Socio-Emotional Learning (SEL) in no small part to drive current K-12 teachers with traditional values out of the profession.

Leftists hope to have set in motion a five-step process:

  1. It will be clear in a couple of years that the plan has worked. With Virginia already facing a teacher shortage, VDOE continues to push CRT, SEL and other progressive ideals such as the colossal overreach of a transgender child policy that converts appropriate accommodations into recruitment.
  2. Working conditions will continue to worsen for those:
    • who want to teach kids reading, writing, mathematics, science and the other academic disciplines without being forced into service in loco parentis to train social justice warriors in violation of their personal standards and those of most parents;
    • who wish to protect their personal values and dignity in their chosen profession.
  3. The state will be shocked — shocked —  that there are not nearly enough teachers to staff the schools.
  4. Virginia will continue its ongoing reductions in the qualifications for licensure. (Example:  For the Middle School Science Praxis test, the Educational Testing Service, after exhaustive research, recommended a cut score of 152 corresponding to a raw score of 61 out of 100. The Virginia Board of Education recently authorized a cut score of 147, corresponding to a raw score of 57 out of 100.)
  5. Nothing will stem the tide. President Biden will be asked to declare a national emergency and ask for a trillion dollars to increase the numbers of teachers without, this time, looking for root causes.

This is an easy assessment of what the left wants, not the least because they admit it. Most radical progressives are not stupid, just wrong. Those five steps are exactly what they seek.

They prioritize driving away the teachers of whom they disapprove over the needs of anyone’s children.

Eggs and omelettes. Viva la revolución.

The National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT) in Virginia

Becky Pringle and Randi Weingarten lead America’s two largest teachers unions. They presumably want more teachers and their dues.

But that is not their first priority. From the NEA website:

NEA president Becky Pringle is a fierce social justice warrior, defender of educator rights, an unrelenting advocate for all students and communities of color, and a valued and respected voice in the education arena.

Read the rest of Ms Pringle’s philosophy and background on that same web page. Not a single word about the working conditions of teachers.

Not one.

Randi Weingarten of the American Federation of Teachers has worked for years to position herself proudly and loudly to the left of the NEA. That has become increasingly difficult to do.

The NEA is the parent organization of the VEA. The AFT is investing heavily in organizing more teachers, especially in Northern Virginia, in order to be their contracting agent if those jurisdictions authorize union negotiations with local governments.

Teacher shortages

A pre-COVID (2019) report showed accelerating retirements of other departures from the profession before the rapidly increasing pressure on teacher supply by  VDOE and the academic left.

The teacher shortage was supply-driven at the front end:

“From the 2008–2009 to 2015–2016 school years, a 15.4 percent drop in the number of education degrees awarded and a 27.4 percent drop in the number of people who completed a teacher preparation program.”

The NEA saw the same trends:

“The annual loss of effective public school teachers is devastating to the U.S. economy and exacerbates the achievement gap. The statistics for turnover among new teachers are startling. Some 30 percent of all
new hires leave the classroom within three years. In urban districts, the numbers are worse; close to 50 percent of newcomers flee the profession during their first five years of teaching.”

Causes — NEA version

The NEA, of course, conjured a unique and self-serving assessment of the causes:

“1) a lack of clarity or standards around defining teacher leadership and related skills, knowledge, and practices;

2) flat career continuums that offer accomplished teachers little opportunity for growth in skill, responsibility, and compensation;

3) systems that do not offer new roles and increased compensation to those who have voluntarily taken steps to improve their practice and leadership skills;

4) a single career pathway that does not consider the varying interests and abilities of educators, and;

5) school systems that do not offer teachers opportunities to be successful, collaborate with colleagues, take formal leadership roles, or contribute in the decision-making process at school and district levels.”

It is not at all clear what they mean in anything on that list except the request for more money. That is always clear.

The NEA never specifies which school systems they find without clarity or standards, with flat career continuums and/or denying teachers opportunities for growth in skill and opportunities to be successful.

Because there aren’t any. Name one.

They simply assert those failures and list them as causes of the teacher shortage.

Rapidly increasing pressures on teacher supply from the left

The NEA says nothing about the increasingly incessant progressive demands of teachers, left-wing changes to curricula and teacher evaluations, assaults on the personal values and dignity of many or an increasing lack of classroom discipline driven by a search for “equity” in sanctions on bad behavior.

The NEA discourages the use of School Research Officers (SROs) in schools.  Richmond Public Schools (RPS) appears headed to exclude them. Perhaps both the NEA and RPS should poll the teachers of schools with SROs.

Progressives can approve of the policies, but they cannot deny that they bring additional pressure on the supply of teachers.

That is, after all, the intent.

The NEA on national control of ed school accreditations

The NEA prescribes, of course, national control of education programs.

NEA believes that teacher preparation programs must be approved at two levels: at the state level through an agency such as a professional standards board and at the national level through a national accreditation body.

The left wants to use progressive education school accreditation standards to shut down schools of education like that at Liberty University, a Christian University that produces far more teachers than any other undergraduate education program in Virginia.

Yet more pressure on supply.

The NEA’s stance(s) on career and technical education

With Olympic flexibility, the NEA sets as standards and curriculum goals, listed consecutively:

`State developed a policy that requires alignment between curricular content and rigorous standards that address the needs of students of all abilities, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds in all academic subjects.

“100 percent of high school seniors complete the entire range of college-preparatory courses in
math and science… College Preparatory courses are algebra 1, algebra 2, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, biology, chemistry, and physics.”

Elsewhere on their website,

NEA is committed to strengthening career and technical education (CTE) programs.

So the NEA thus has a firm stance on CTE and the “needs of students of all abilities, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds”:

College prep for all and CTE for many.

What will be the effect on the supply of CTE instructors of their clear second class status in the teachers union hierarchy?

Bottom line, courtesy of the U.S. Department of Education

Finally, the core of the matter of teacher shortages is explained by the U.S. Department of Education. It projects annually the future supply of elementary and secondary teachers but cautions:

“The projections do not take into account possible changes in the number of teachers due to the effects of government policies.”

Good call.

You might reasonably ask:  How could progressives press ahead with what they are doing and not understand that more teachers will leave when teachers are already in short supply?

If we are waiting for them to answer that for attribution, we will wait forever.

But if a reader thinks that they don’t understand what they are doing, it is he who contends they are stupid.

I disagree.