Laura Dinehart, Dean of FIU's School of Education and Human Development, wrote this op-ed, which was published in the Miami Herald on Friday, May 27, 2022. Below is an excerpt. The full version is available via The Miami Herald.
It is no secret that the country is experiencing a significant teacher shortage. The reasons are challenging, complicated and systemic, but the May 24 mass shooting in Uvalde, Texas reminds us, once again, why young people are opting out of teaching.
A 2019 report published by the Economic Policy Institute indicated a 27.4% decrease in the number of people who completed a teacher preparation program between 2008-2009 and 2015-2016. More recently, the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (AACTE) reported colleges and universities awarded fewer than 90,000 degrees in education by 2018-2019. Florida International University, one of the largest producers of Hispanic teachers in the country, is no different. In 2009-2010, FIU awarded 193 degrees in elementary education. In 2019-2020, we awarded 53.
Every day, our faculty members work hard to prepare future teachers to educate our children. We teach them the science of reading. We teach them how to use active learning in the classroom. And we teach them how to ensure all children have the opportunity to succeed beyond school. When they walk across the stage to get their diploma, they smile, brimming with hope that they too will impact the life of a child.
Last week, I spent a couple of hours with some of the very best teachers in our community. One of them talked about the love she has for her students. But the events of Sandy Hook, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Columbine, and now Robb Elementary, to name a few, have taken the lives of teachers, and the students they loved. The teachers that survive this tragedy, their students and the families will live with the unimaginable trauma that comes with these horrific shootings.
The script is always similar. We mourn the incredible loss of life. We grieve as a nation and then we claim that nothing happens. In reality, a lot happens. We talk about the murderer’s mental health, we look to the adults around him “who did nothing.” We bIame other teachers and school practitioners who “missed the signs.” We make them participate in more professional-development workshops on mental health, and we blame everyone who couldn’t predict this would happen at their school. ...
Read Dinehart’s op-ed in its entirety on the Miami Herald website.