And that decline has been steady since the recession began in 2007, causing some state legislators to pay new attention to their education budgets.
“In 2010, in the middle of a massive economic recession, all state governments were deep in the red,” said John Ahlquist, a University of California San Diego professor who specializes in labor movements. “Cuts were going to be made. The question was: Who was going to absorb the cuts?”
Times have changed, Ahlquist said, and the country is now close to full employment. However, expectations of public sector employees have stayed the same and they have seen no wage increases to compensate them. State education budgets throughout the country have steadily decreased since 2008, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
That leaves teachers to continue to suffer financially and professionally. Meanwhile, experts add that state oversight of schools is growing and teachers say their pay is increasingly tied to state testing performance.
“We’re seeing teachers reaching the end of their rope,” said Ben Yoder, a music educator in Indiana, where teacher pay has seen the steepest decline since 2000. “When you cut off and starve public education, make it difficult for teachers to do their job and make it a demoralizing, de-professionalized career, you start to see teachers at state capitols.”
Teachers across the country cited accountability pressures, a lack of administrative support, and a dissatisfaction with the career and working conditions to be the reason many of them have decided to quit.
And prospective teachers have taken notice, as the number of new teachers continues to dwindle.
“It’s hard to become a teacher because there’s no money to help you get through school so you’ll have to take on loans, you’re going to earn less and — if you come in without the training — you’re not likely to survive,” said Darling-Hammond.
That might be one reason why the number of people pursuing the teaching profession has plummeted. Enrollment in teacher preparation programs nationwide dropped 39 percent between 2010 and 2014 — from more than 680,000 people for the 2010-11 academic year to fewer than 420,000 for the 2014-15 academic year.
Interest in Teach for America dwindled in recent years as well, as their application pool fell from 57,000 in 2013 to 37,000 in 2016. That then caused the program to shrink overall, dropping from 5,800 Teach for America educators in 2014 to 3,500 in 2017.
“It’s not a lifestyle a professional would want,” said Geraldine Bender, the president of the Mississippi chapter of American Federation of Teachers. “A lot of teachers will get a second job because they have children they have to take care of. On this salary, you can’t get ahead, you can’t make financial plans.”
There’s a critical teacher shortage in the Mississippi Delta, one of the poorest regions in the nation, but education leaders say that the entire state faces high turnover and low retention, as well as shrinking recruiting classes.
The Mississippi Department of Education found that more than a quarter of its school districts suffer from a critical teacher shortage. To try to rectify the situation, the state has attempted to circumvent teacher licensing or lower standards.
A recent proposal in the statehouse would have allowed teaching candidates who only scored an 18 on the ACT, which has a max score of 36, and earned a 2.75 GPA in the subject area they want to teach. That bill died in committee.
Some states’ unwillingness to pay for an academically proven workforce has their teachers running for the border.
“If we had better teacher pay, we would have a better chance of keeping teachers in Mississippi,” said Joyce Helmick, president of the Mississippi Education Association. “Right now, they can go across the state line, they can teach in Tennessee and get paid $5,000 to $10,000 more. In Arkansas, Louisiana, Alabama, they get paid more.”
“Mississippi is not that big across, so you can live in the center and drive a distance to get paid more money,” she added.
And there’s data to support the idea that the prospect of a pay increase helps keep teachers in classrooms. According to the Learning Policy Institute study, districts where teachers could expect to one day earn around $78,000 had a turnover rate that was 31 percent lower than those districts where salaries maxed out at less than $60,000.
Dr. Laura Hamack serves as the superintendent of Brown County Schools in Indiana, a district where she started her teaching career 22 years ago. She said that the supportive culture surrounding education that buoyed her as a young educator has largely disappeared and left teachers “really beat up.”
Ten years ago, she said, her rural school district in Indiana would receive more than 200 applications for an open position. Now teaching posts at her schools remain empty indefinitely as people leave the career field and young people aren’t inspired by the job prospects.
“It sounds cliché, but [teachers are] fundamentally helping the next generation learn to read,” Hamack said. “Their responsibility is huge, so I do really worry that they will become so disconnected from their mission that they walk away from the profession. I’m really quite concerned about that.”
St Vincent volcano: Around 16,000 people flee communities after eruption of La Soufriere | World News
About 16,000 people have had to flee their ash-covered communities after a volcano erupted on the Caribbean island of St Vincent.
The eruption of La Soufriere on Friday has transformed the island’s usual lush towns and villages into a gloomy, grey landscape.
It was the 4,000-ft volcano’s first major eruption since 1979.
Thousands of residents have had to evacuate their homes and seek shelter with as many belongings as they could stuffed into suitcases and backpacks.
It comes after a strong sulphur smell was unavoidable on Saturday as ash blanketed large parts of the island.
There have been no reports of anyone being killed or injured by the initial blast or those that followed.
The had government ordered people to evacuate the most high-risk area around the volcano before the eruption after scientists warned that magma was moving close to the surface.
Government authorities delivered water, food and supplies to the shelters where many had fled to.
The island’s international airport remained blanketed in ash and smoke on Saturday making the runway barely visible.
Western Australian towns evacuated after tropical cyclone barrels down with 100mph winds | World News
A tropical cyclone has hit the western coast of Australia with winds of more than 100mph (170km) and much of the area put on “red alert”.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Meteorology, Todd Smith, said cyclone Seroja was now at category two but had reached “category three cyclone intensity” with damaging winds which would continue into the night.
Emergency services opened shelters in preparation for the high winds and coastal flooding.
Category 2 #TCSeroja rapidly moving southeast. Impacts to the west coast of WA begin this afternoon and inland parts this evening and overnight. Dangerous conditions including destructive wind gusts, intense rainfall and a dangerous storm tide. Latest info https://t.co/bku7VbhoZa pic.twitter.com/UD1DrGfve9
— Bureau of Meteorology, Western Australia (@BOM_WA) April 11, 2021
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said in a bulletin: “There is a possible threat to lives and homes.
“You need to take action and get ready to shelter.”
The DFES has so far put five coastal towns on “red alert”.
Some towns north of Perth were evacuated while sandbags were being made available to residents further down the coast.
A category three classification can see wind speeds of up to 170mph (224km).
After touching down on the north western town of Geraldton (124 miles/200km north of Perth) and dumping more than 10cm of rain in just two hours, tropical cyclone Seroja headed inland, lessening slightly in intensity.
However, officials were still braced for a “high degree of damage” to buildings in the area.
A spokesman for the Western Australia emergency services department explained that buildings were not constructed to withstand such strong winds in a region as it typically too far south to fall into the path of cyclones.
Russia: Inside the Kremlin’s military build-up along the Ukraine border | World News
At the Maslovka railway station just south of the Russian city of Voronezh, there’s a small military camp, a few trucks and a tent.
The clearing in front is rutted thanks to the steady unloading of military equipment in recent weeks.
A soldier recognises us from the day before.
“Hello spies,” he said.
Russia’s military build-up in Crimea and along the border with Ukraine has hardly been subtle.
It has coincided with the breakdown of the latest ceasefire in the simmering conflict between Ukraine and Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
More and more videos have appeared on social media of Russian troop movements – artillery convoys along the bridge connecting Russia with Crimea; trains loaded with weaponry coming from as far east as Siberia.
These sightings from ordinary Russians alongside warnings from Ukrainian generals preceded the Russian military’s announcement of exercises in the region and sent alarm bells ringing across Western capitals.
The kit unloaded at Maslovka is headed to a nearby training ground, which has been turned into a huge military field camp.
It stretches for around a mile and a half and backs right onto a neighbourhood of dachas, the weekend homes of mostly Voronezh city-folk who tell us the build-up began in late March.
We accidentally drive right in, though the soldiers make no effort to come after us.
There are a large number of military trucks, row after row of tents, troops milling about.
The sign at the entrance is one that most Russian conscripts remember from military service – “Difficult on exercise, easier in the fight”.
The site was first identified through open source methods by the Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) in Moscow.
“It looks more like preparing for an offensive operation, not just to protect our land,” CIT’s Ruslan Leviev told us in Moscow.
But he does not believe it’s a prelude to war.
“It looks like a show of force to put pressure on the Ukrainian government, to show your posture on the international stage, to show your position to the new American administration.”
Locals pottering around their dachas hardly spare a thought for the military build-up next door.
“If Zelensky (the Ukrainian president) isn’t a fool, then nothing will happen. If he is a fool, anything could happen,” said Nina, a pensioner who we meet watering her garden.
“‘Anyway, it’s not him who decides things, it’s the Americans.”
She does not want to give her surname.
“I hope I haven’t revealed any military secrets,” she added.
“There are always exercises here, every summer,” said Yuri, a local guard.
“Stop all this talk of war.”
But there are not exercises on this scale.
Neither here nor elsewhere along Russia’s border with Ukraine.
Not since the annexation of Crimea has Russia beefed up its presence there to this extent, re-deploying an air brigade from near the Estonian border and sending 10 naval vessels from the Caspian to reinforce the Black Sea fleet.
In response, the US has announced it will send two warships into the Black Sea.
The German chancellor asked Vladimir Putin this week to wind down the military build-up.
This Sunday after consultations with his US counterpart, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted the same.
It does not appear to be happening.
The Russian position is clear. What happens on Russian soil is Russia’s business.
It is hard to argue with that.
The UK 🇬🇧 & US 🇺🇸 firmly oppose Russia’s campaign to destabilise Ukraine. @SecBlinken & I agreed Russia must immediately de-escalate the situation & live up to the international commitments that it signed up to at @OSCE. Our support for Ukraine’s sovereignty is unwavering.
— Dominic Raab (@DominicRaab) April 11, 2021
But ostentatious muscle-flexing around Ukraine is not an option for the West to ignore – the stakes are too high, they are for all involved.
Ukraine’s leader Volodymyr Zelensky may clamour for fast-track NATO membership but he will not get it.
For all their loud protestations over NATO’s possible eastward-creep, the Kremlin knows that.
US President Joe Biden may declare his unwavering support for Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty and integrity but he will be wary of walking anywhere near potential conflict with Russia.
And surrounded as he is by Russian forces, president Zelensky knows re-taking the country’s eastern Donbas region, parts of which are held by separatists, is wishful thinking as is any large-scale fight with his powerful neighbour to the East.
It is of course hard to know what Russia is playing at but they seem to be eyeing the long game.
Coercive diplomacy to extract concessions in negotiations on Donbas, a powerful display of military muscle for the new US administration to take note of while the de facto annexation of the separatist regions of Ukraine chugs along apace.
According to Russian state news agency Ria Novosti, 420,000 people in the Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics have already received Russian passports.
Russia is aiming for one million by parliamentary elections this September.
“It’s unifying their legislation with the Russian one, it’s providing them with the Russian vaccine, it’s providing them with passports. It doesn’t mean Russia wants to annex them,” said Maxim Samorukov from the Moscow Carnegie Institute.
“At least in the near future,” he added.
It also provides quite the justification for full-scale intervention should Russia’s calculus change.
President Putin has said allowing Ukrainian troops along Russia’s border with the separatist regions could lead to a Srebrenica-type massacre – the 1995 genocide of more than 8,000 Bosnian Muslims by Bosnian Serb forces.
Dmitry Kozak, Russia’s representative in negotiations on Ukraine, has threatened that a Ukrainian assault on Donbas would be a ‘”self-inflicted gunshot wound in the foot and to the head”.
“If the Srebrenica massacre takes place there, we will have to stand up for their defence,” he said.
Sharp rhetoric to match an aggressive display of military might.
All in the interests of deterrence? Perhaps.
But also an indication that eight years of sanctions has hardly served to deter Russia from at the very least flexing its muscles, if not more.
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