School Staffing Issues

by Kristen Luebbert

My name is Kristin Luebbert, a district teacher, PFT member and member of Racial Justice Organizing.

I want to speak to you tonight on behalf of my fellow in-school staff and our students. I emphasize IN-SCHOOL staff.  It is the end of October and we are already running on fumes. Our students and families have come to us with more needs than ever. This is perfectly understandable given the pandemic experience, and we want to meet these needs. We also want to teach and support our students.

Numerous  schools have multiple staff vacancies, and even getting daily substitutes for normal illnesses is a challenge. Nurses, paraprofessionals, counselors, teachers, and climate staff are resigning at an astonishing rate. There are six pages of resignations/retirements tonight.  I have no doubt that these resignations will continue apace–and the district will never be able to keep up with filling the spiraling vacancies.

We need the people in power to support us and our students. As almost everyone has said during this last 18 months, we are in “unprecedented times”. These times and the situation our students are in require those in charge to think creatively and find solutions–or at least patches–where they may not have looked before. 

We have many many people (up to and including Dr. Hite) who are trained educators but are not teaching our students right now. There are dozens of certified teachers in support jobs here at 440. While in normal times these support positions are needed and important, in this time of increasing vacancies coupled with high stress and high need our students require “all hands on deck”.  It is time to put all available personnel into schools until this staffing shortage eases.

Our students need people and they need them now. Students need teachers and support staff–they do not need to be sorted and categorized by tests, walk-throughs, and various other administrative evaluations.  It is time to get all the teaching professionals back into schools and classrooms.