Iowa schools are offering $50,000 incentive for retiring teachers to STAY for the 2022-2023 year

Iowa schools are offering up to $50,000 incentive for teachers nearing retirement age to STAY for the 2022-2023 school year as it faces staff shortages with up to 150 vacancies

  • Retiring Baby Boomers, the Great Resignation and cultural war issues have prompted Iowa teachers to quit
  • The Des Moines school district is offering $50,000 to teachers 60 years old with 15 years experience to stay on for the 2022-2023 school year
  • More than 500 teachers have resigned or retired over the 2022 summer alone
  • 58 teachers have agreed to stay on for the next year, but the school system is still short of 50 educators

Veteran teachers have been fleeing Iowa schools at such an alarming rate that the Des Moines School District is now paying them $50,000 to stay for at least one more year.

Buffeted by culture war clashes and burnout, Iowa educators have had enough and are checking out in droves, leaving the public school system depleted of teachers for the next year.

More than 500 teachers resigned or retired from the Des Moines public school system this summer alone, according to Axios. And this summer is better than last, the news outlet reported.

In an effort to end the exodus, Iowa’s largest school system has offered teachers 60 years old or older with 15 years in the classroom an extra $50,000 to stay on for the 2022-2023 school year.

The Des Moines School District held a job fair recently trying to fill the 150 open positions before the school year starts

The Des Moines School District held a job fair recently trying to fill the 150 open positions before the school year starts

Des Moines public school teachers union head, Joshua Brown, said that teachers are burnt out because of the culture wars

Des Moines public school teachers union head, Joshua Brown, said that teachers are burnt out because of the culture wars

Even after 58 teachers agreed to stay on an extra year and delay retirement, the city school district is still short 100 support staff

Even after 58 teachers agreed to stay on an extra year and delay retirement, the city school district is still short 100 support staff

With less than a month to go before classroom doors open for the year, Des Moines schools are still down 50 instructors and an estimated 100 support staff.

Statewide, there are a staggering 5,400 school jobs open, according to Teach Iowa, an Hawkeye State education employment service. More than 1,600 of those openings were for teachers.

The desperate school district recently held a job fair to encourage applicants for the open positions.

Des Moines, pictured here, lost 500 teachers this summer alone. Statewide Iowa has 1,500 job openings in the public school system

Des Moines, pictured here, lost 500 teachers this summer alone. Statewide Iowa has 1,500 job openings in the public school system

We’re trying to staff up as much as possible so we’re ready for next month when our kids come back to the classroom,’ Des Moines School District spokesman Phil Roeder said.

The shortage of teachers and staff could mean that afterschool programs will be canceled or that classes will be combined, creating large class sizes, which have been found to decrease learning.

The problem isn’t just in Iowa. Teachers across the country give their jobs an F grade.

A national survey by the American Federation of Teachers, a union with 1.7 million members, found an 80 percent dissatisfaction rate with their positions.

School board meetings have become the frontline for culture wars over mask mandates, gender identity, racial inequality, critical race theory and sex education.

Des Moines Education Association, a local chapter of the state union, said that they foresaw the shortage last year and was able to work with the district to offer more money to keep teachers on.

‘We saw that we would potentially would have a tough time filling positions,’ president Joshua Brown told the MailOnline. 

He said that they sent a letter out last year asking who was about to retire and if they would consider staying on for another year.

'We're coming for your seat' Alecia Vaught, left, told Montgomery County School Board chair Susan Kass, right, as she stalked out of a public meeting. 'You can have it' Kass replied

‘We’re coming for your seat’ Alecia Vaught, left, told Montgomery County School Board chair Susan Kass, right, as she stalked out of a public meeting. ‘You can have it’ Kass replied

‘It helps us in two ways. We are able to keep staff on, getting some of them to delay retirement, and secondly we are able to find out early who is planning on retiring so that we can begin the process of finding their replacement,’ he said.

He echoed Beranek’s statement that teachers are fed up with taking heat over cultural issues.

‘In Iowa in particular, the attacks against public schools and making teachers feel like the villain are making them feel why bother,’ he said.

Brown, who represents 3,500 teachers and support staff, said that the district is still short of 58 teachers. 

‘We knew this wasn’t going to be the magic bullet, but it did help,’ he said. ‘Instead of being short 108, we’re short 50 [teachers.]’

The shortfall on educators will have a ripple effect in the coming years.

Mother-of-four Melissa Bakondy says her 'first amendment rights were trampled on actually' when she was ejected

Mother-of-four Melissa Bakondy says her ‘first amendment rights were trampled on actually’ when she was ejected

‘It means that it’s going to be even more stressful on teachers who are already being asked to do more than they are paid for,’ Brown said.

The union president said that there’s a generational shift in which many Baby Boom educators are finally reaching retirement age, and he suggested that the Great Resignation is also at play with the staffing issues.

The Iowa State Education Association president Mike Beranek told the Des Moines Register in March that the reason for the defections is simple.

‘They’re tired,’ he told the paper. ‘This is due to them feeling exhausted and demoralized. They are seeing attacks on their profession and themselves through the legislative bills that have been presented and through various forums such as board of education meetings.’

In October last year, Amanda McClanahan read sexually explicit excerpts from three LGBTQ books found in the Northwest High School library in Waukee, Iowa.

Though she doesn’t have children in the district, the school board was prompted to remove the books from the library.

Mask mandates have also become stressors for educators.

In February 2022, students walked out of classrooms in Illinois, New Jersey, Delaware and Connecticut over extended mask mandates.

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