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Citing 'burnout,' 2 of 3 Colorado teachers say they may leave the profession

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RJ Sangosti/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images

Complaining of pandemic "burnout," two-thirds of Colorado teachers recently said they are considering leaving the profession, according to a new survey conducted by the state's largest teachers' union.

What are the details?

The Colorado Education Association, which represents 39,000 educators in the state, reported this week that 67% of its members responded to a recent survey by indicating they were considering leaving the industry at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

That figure is up significantly since 2020 when 40% of respondents indicated a desire to leave. But even that number was unusually high. Since the start of the pandemic, teachers across the country have claimed they are being asked to do too much while not being paid adequately.

“The last 21 months have been crushing for our educators and students and there seems to be no end in sight,” said union president Amie Baca-Oehlert in a press release, according to KDVR-TV. “Members are ready to stand up and fight for the schools our students and educators deserve."

The union's secretary and treasurer, Amber Wilson, added, “Because we’re educators, we do give. We give and we give until we can’t give anymore and then we realize we’ve given so much that we’re broke ... that we’re broken.”

Wilson, who is a high school English teacher located in Denver, said burnout has become so bad that many teachers — especially younger ones — are not sure if they can make it through the end of the year.

"Even just getting through the school year, they’re like I don’t know if I can do that,” Wilson said. “Nothing has been taken off the plates of educators, so we came back [from remote learning], and if anything, things got added on, and that’s what’s creating this sense of burnout and lack of sustainability.”

What else?

Disgruntled educators are not only a Colorado problem. In recent weeks, school districts all across the country have sought to appease "burned out" teachers by once again canceling classes or going fully remote, often giving little notice to parents before executing the changes.

The schedule changes amount to a last-ditch effort to retain teachers amid the pandemic.

"What you hear from teachers is that it’s been too much,” American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten told the New York Times. “And they’re trying the best that they can.”

In May, Weingarten similarly argued that teachers were "tired and exhausted" despite being home for months during the first year, even adding that it's America's responsibility to "find a way to repair and nourish" those teachers. Parents were not so easily swayed by her lamentation.

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