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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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The Daily Utah Chronicle

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Hall: Ignite Educator Retention

Utah policymakers must celebrate and uplift the teaching profession, giving teachers the credit and respect that they deserve.
Xiangyao Tang
An empty classroom in Wasatch Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Sept. 17, 2021. (Photo by Xiangyao “Axe” Tang | The Daily Utah Chronicle)


Utah’s education system is at a crossroads, grappling with a new crisis of teacher turnover. New educators are burdened by crushing workloads and a lack of critical support systems.

This retreat in teacher retention doesn’t just disrupt the continuity of education — it shakes the very foundation of our teaching force, depleting morale and diluting the effectiveness of our schools.

To safeguard the stability and effectiveness of Utah’s education system, Utah lawmakers must undertake bold, transformative measures to address the root causes driving teachers away. Only through comprehensive action can we revive teacher retention, ensuring a resilient and flourishing education environment for our students.

Paperwork Paralysis

The incessant barrage of administrative tasks and bureaucratic hoops has become the bane of Utah’s teaching force, driving talented educators away in droves. This nightmare suffocates new teachers, drowning them in a sea of paperwork, endless assessments and suffocating compliance measures.

Elyse Arrington, an English teacher at East High School, said, “What even is overtime in the teaching profession? Overtime is literally part of the job.” It’s a whirlwind that leaves little breathing room for what drew these educators to the profession in the first place — inspiring and molding young minds.

Utah lawmakers must wake up and acknowledge the urgent need to slash through the red tape strangling our classrooms. It’s time for decisive action that puts teaching, not paperwork, at the forefront of education. A mountain of paperwork does no good if it buries the very essence of education under its weight.

Paul Stemle, a math teacher at East High School said that to improve teacher retention, “We need to make it harder to get into the profession so we end up with people who can actually stay without burning out so fast.” Arrington agreed and stated that our students “deserve the best” teachers that they can get.

Undervalued and Underappreciated

The attrition of teachers in Utah isn’t solely due to administrative burdens but also stems from a systemic lack of recognition and support for their monumental efforts. Teaching isn’t just a job: it calls for immense dedication and resilience.

Yet, educators often feel undervalued and unsupported in their vital work. When asked how she felt about the level of support and recognition she receives as an educator, Arrington said, “In Utah specifically, not great.”

Utah policymakers must celebrate and uplift the teaching profession, giving teachers the credit and respect that they deserve. Competitive salaries are non-negotiable to attract and retain top-tier educators.

While progress has been made, Utah must ensure fair and competitive pay that reflects teachers’ expertise and impact. Lawmakers must prioritize equitable compensation to retain seasoned educators.

Redefining Classroom Dynamics

Improving teacher retention in Utah requires addressing systemic challenges such as classroom overcrowding and resource deficiencies. The detrimental impact of overcrowded classrooms on teacher effectiveness and student learning is undeniable, leading to heightened levels of burnout and diminished job satisfaction among educators.

Utah must prioritize the allocation of resources and enact policies that promote smaller class sizes to ensure that students have a conducive learning environment. Smaller class sizes should not be seen as a luxury but as a fundamental necessity to educational success. They facilitate personalized interactions between teachers and students, enabling educators to provide individualized support and meaningful engagement.

Utah’s commitment to reducing class sizes will demonstrate a proactive approach to enhancing teacher retention and fostering optimal conditions for effective teaching and learning.

Professional Autonomy Vs. Parental Expectations

A significant challenge contributing to the concerning turnover of teachers in Utah is the gradual erosion of trust between parents and educators. This trust deficit is often fueled by various factors, including political agendas or misconceptions about classroom content and policies. As a result, many parents attempt to dictate or influence these aspects, undermining teachers’ professional autonomy and creating tensions within the education system.

“Teachers don’t want to defy parents,” Arrington said. “No teacher wants to brainwash a kid. I would do anything to get my kids to read a book because they’re not reading. We don’t want to make it harder for kids to want to read.”

Utah lawmakers are faced with the task of addressing this issue and pushing back against undue parental interference. It is essential to ensure that classrooms remain spaces dedicated to unbiased, evidence-based education, where educators have the freedom and authority to make professional decisions that best serve all their students’ learning needs.

Revive our Education System

Utah cannot afford to ignore the rapid retreat of its educators. Each teacher who leaves represents a loss of expertise, dedication and potential impact on students’ lives. This departure creates disruptions in classroom continuity, hinders student progress and undermines the overall quality of education.

If Utah aims to uphold a standard of excellence and prepare its students for the challenges of tomorrow, ignoring teacher turnover is not an option.

By reducing workloads, offering competitive salaries, addressing systemic issues and defending educator’s professional autonomy, Utah can ignite retention and ensure that educators feel motivated and empowered to stay.


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About the Contributors
Lexi Hall
Lexi Hall, Opinion Writer
(she/her) Lexi is double majoring in English and Communications with an emphasis in Journalism at the University of Utah. She is from Las Vegas, Nevada, and came to Salt Lake City because she loves the outdoors. Lexi spends most of her time reading books and going to concerts with friends. She hopes one day to become an English Professor and a Journalist.
Xiangyao Tang
Xiangyao Tang, Photo Director
Axe is a photographer and the photo director of the Daily Utah Chronicle. He is from China and is a senior majoring in computer science and minoring in digital photography. Axe joined the Chronicle in August of 2021. In addition to his position at the Chrony, he is also a photo intern for University of Utah Athletics. When he's not writing code, you will find him rock climbing, camping, skiing or hiking with his camera.

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