As the school year begins, the news is full of stories about public education staff shortages. The press quickly identified the problem. Lack of respect and fair compensation, as well as stressful working conditions keep people out of perhaps the most important jobs in our economy. Strong public schools need real investment in their employees. It’s time to admit something.

Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) employees perform the basic work necessary to keep our county welcoming, safe, healthy and thriving. They develop children’s skills and prepare them for college and careers. They build community in schools and classrooms and teach children how to successfully navigate social relationships. They inspire their students to try to reach their potential as future citizens.

For decades, MCPS’ excellence has made the area a major draw for families and businesses. Our school consistently ranks among the best in the nation.

But that success came with long-standing challenges. Staff are overloaded with ever-increasing demands to perform additional duties. Standardized tests and standardized curricula are increasingly robbing us of the joy of teaching and learning. Meanwhile, educators, support personnel, and administrators have dealt with a lack of resources to meet the growing needs of students.

All of these issues are exacerbated by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, increased school violence, and devastating political rhetoric.

As a result, a record number of Montgomery County Public Schools employees retired or resigned by the end of the June school year. In addition to the usual retirements and transfers, I saw more and more dedicated people leaving the school system altogether in search of better wages and working conditions. Lower than we remember.

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By admin1