Want to Stem the Teacher Shortage? Start Trusting Our Great Educators

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Michael Gottesman is a retired New Jersey attorney and the founder of the “New Jersey Coalition for Protection of Public Education,” a non-partisan organization designed to provide parents with factual information about school board issues and school board elections, as well as to dispel misinformation and disinformation campaigns that are prevalent in our state at the current time.

  • Why is it that seasoned teachers in the United States are disgusted and leaving the profession in droves?
  • Why is it that the number of college students majoring in Education has declined by 35%?
  • Why is it that we currently have over 200,000 teacher vacancies in the United States nationwide?
  • Why are New Jersey School districts struggling to fill teacher vacancies?

To answer these questions we must ask two more:

  • Whatever happened to parents trusting teachers?
  • Whatever happened to parents and teachers collaborating together for the best interest of the

The collaboration between parent and teachers in education is one of the core elements that make our education systems exceptional and this collaboration is nothing new. The National Parent Teacher Association was founded on February 17, 1897. This unity of effort to educate our children has been a given in public education for nearly 125 years.

That is until approximately two years ago when radical organizations began sowing the seeds of discontent through misinformation and disinformation. They created a narrative designed to enrage parents into thinking that teachers were their enemy.

It began with attacks on the New Jersey Department of Education’s 2020 Health and Fitness mandate with allegations that teachers were pushing an extreme liberal “woke” agenda designed to sexualize our children and prepare them for the human trafficking industry. Education professionals, who have been teaching our children for decades and decades, were now being vilified and called “pedophiles” and “groomers” and accused of “sexualizing our children in preparation for human trafficking.”

Thankfully, there are recent hints that logic and reason are prevailing and have proven that these claims were merely part of the playbook of organizations hell-bent on destroying and defunding public education.  The vast majority of school districts in New Jersey are adopting the 2020 Health and Fitness mandate into their curriculums and rejecting what is effectively a goal to “homogenize” our public schools by eliminating or subduing or totally rejecting “inclusion and diversity,” accepting the fact that curriculum should be designed for the betterment of children’s education and not to push any theocratic or racist edict.

The public has been made aware of the fact that parents can opt-out of “any part of the instructions in health, family life education or sex education” that may be “in conflict with [their} conscience, or sincerely held moral or religious beliefs”(N.J.S.A 18A:35-4.7). They have had this right for over 42 years.

So why are these groups and individuals still unsatisfied with the right to opt-out? Has anything changed in the 42 years that opt-out has been the law of the land? NOTHING!

Opt-out is not enough for these organizations that strive to make the curriculum “opt-in,” and force the majority viewpoint to submit to their unwavering minority demands. To try and ply their hatred of the curriculum that they so fear and despise, they have come up with a new tactic. And once again, it involves vilifying teachers.

The newest claim, which I call “spillover,” is that opt-out just won’t work. That these “sneaky” and “nefarious” teachers will somehow take those elements of the curriculum that parents opt out of and introduce them in other subjects. Like math and science. Perhaps they think that a math teacher is going to teach her second grade students that one plus one equals three. You know, because if you put one man and one woman together you’re going to end up with a baby and that makes three. 

So they have reintroduced their attacks on educators by accusing and vilifying teachers. This despite the fact that every district in the state has a teacher’s code of conduct that specifically prevents teachers from doing exactly what these organizations claim will be done. In fact, if teachers were to attempt to teach concepts outside their curriculum, they would be subject to not only discipline but dismissal.

But these organizations remain unsatisfied and they have purposefully chosen to continue to attack the professionals that spend seven to eight hours a day with our children; educating them, nurturing them ,and helping guide them to become contributing members of society.

It’s time we recognized and rejected the nonsense and accepted our educators for whom they are: 

  • People who dedicate their lives to our children. 
  • People who in the event of an emergency such as an active shooter would not think twice about putting themselves between your child and a bullet.

While these issues may not represent the only reason for the “exodus” of teachers, it is undeniably a major element of the problem.

Our educators have earned and deserved respect. Not petty attacks questioning the teacher’s intentions or underlying motivations.

Educator’s only motivations are to enlighten your children, give them a safe and comfortable place to learn and then return them back to you unharmed. When a teacher calls students “his/her kids,” it is not to usurp the job of parenting.  It is because they are sworn to guard and protect them while in their care. Just as a parent would!


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