Teachers are doing one of society's most valuable jobs, but we sure don't treat them that way.

All kids need an education.

It's a basic fact: If we want to live in a developed society that keeps moving in the right direction, our kids need to be able to read, write, and think for themselves.


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Even folks without kids can probably agree that educating future generations benefits us all.

As best-selling author John Green put it:

"The reason I pay taxes for schools even though I don't have a kid in school is that I am better off in a well-educated world."

Yes. Yes. Yes.

To ensure kids get a good education, well, we need good teachers. The problem is that they're disappearing.

Wait, what?

Yep, that's right. Across the U.S., many states are reporting a teacher shortage.

The New York Times explored the nationwide problem in a recent article, noting that "Louisville, Ky.; Nashville; Oklahoma City; and Providence, R.I., are among the large urban school districts having trouble finding teachers."

Even more striking was the shortage in California, where school districts need to fill 21,500 vacancies this academic year. Meanwhile, the state is issuing only about 15,000 new teaching credentials each year.

At the root of the problem, the Times reports, are the massive layoffs that happened during the economic recession. Those left a whole bunch of teachers unemployed. And now that some states have more money for education (some — not all), many of them have already moved on to other careers.

Plus, many of the students who might have become teachers during the recession chose other fields. You can't blame them: Why take on student loan debt in exchange for low pay and long hours? That's assuming there would even be a teaching job available upon graduation.

Research and numbers are one thing. But what about the actual people who know the most about why we're facing a teacher shortage?

AJ+ asked those in the know: "Where have all the teachers gone?"

In a great video that you can scroll down to to watch, they took their question straight to teachers.

Max Von Euw got right to the point with the cold, hard truth:

Image by AJ+.

And it's not only about the money — it's the low pay combined with ever-increasing demands.

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But why do we treat the field of teaching as though it's less important than other professions?

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And how about the way people treat teachers?

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What if we did what Charles suggests and totally reframe how we view teachers?

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Teachers, just like parents, are frustrated.

Hayes felt that the most frustrating thing for teachers is the amount of testing their students are put through.

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McNeal was a little more opinionated, stating:

" We are testing children to death and we are testing teachers to death. 20 years ago, we might have spent as much as two weeks testing. Today, in 2015, the average number of weeks a child spends taking tests can be up to six weeks."

(I think I can hear most parents shouting "amen" to that sentiment.)

"Why don't we look at a way to create a more holistic education, which includes social, emotional content and curriculum?" he asked.

Here's the thing we need to remember: Almost all teachers who stay in the profession love what they do.

And what they want to do is educate our kids, even when they're facing an uphill battle. Stephen Leeper, a middle-school ethnic studies teacher, explained: "It is difficult, especially when you teach in communities of color or low-income communities. They bring a lot of trauma into the room."

Teachers aren't just dealing with lesson planning and test preparation. They're working with kids who may not know where their next meal is coming from or even where they'll be sleeping that night.

Still, teachers are committed.

GIFs via AJ+.

It all boils down to something pretty basic:

We should value teachers more.

You can watch the full video here, which I highly recommend.

True

If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Upworthy-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.