Toledo educators weigh the possibility of a local strike

A local strike is unlikely, but multiple factors are making educators unhappy with their jobs, Toledo Federation of Teachers President Kevin Dalton said.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo Teachers’ Federation President Kevin Dalton said that while a teacher strike in Toledo is highly unlikely, that doesn’t necessarily mean teachers are happy with their current environment.

“We certainly had an increase in the number of teachers who quit over the summer, leading up to this school year, and after talking to many of these people and talking to teachers at the end of last year , they felt drained and felt a lack of support,” Dalton said.

Toledo Public Schools senior director of talent acquisition Lori Reffert said she’s been feeling the pressure, especially in high school science and junior high education.

Reffert said the root of the problem is on many levels, but stems from a tendency to judge and harass teachers by the public more than ever before, which is turning people away from the profession.

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“If we don’t inspire people to teach and understand that teachers are professionals, it will be a difficult profession to fill, until there is serious discussion and conversation across the country,” she said.

In an attempt to mitigate the damage, Reffert said the TPS launched a recruitment campaign for substitute teachers over the summer, raising eyebrows when they received more applications than last year.

“It was actually surprising,” she said. “We held a job fair on August 3 and received over 70 applications, which was great because the community really stepped up,” she said.

But they can’t rely on a revolving door of surrogates forever, she said. And if the company doesn’t change, it could have potentially disastrous consequences for America’s education system down the road.

“If we can’t fill basic math positions with people who know math, what are we going to do as a country?” says Refer. “I still hold my English teaching license. You can’t put me in a math class, these kids won’t learn anything. So we have to take this seriously, and again, have this conversation about what’s going on. “we’re going to do. do as a country to make sure this profession doesn’t collapse on itself.”

Dalton said TFT had listened to former teachers’ complaints and worked with TPS over the past few weeks to develop solutions to keep teachers.

He said part of that solution is creating and nurturing “a pipeline of educators who come to Toledo Public Schools” and making sure educators feel supported, respected, and heard.

According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, already some 300,000 teachers and other public school staff left the education sector between February 2020 and May 2022, a drop of nearly 3% from workforce.

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