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55% of teachers planning to leave education due to effects of pandemic, study finds

That figure has nearly doubled since July 2020.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Teachers across the country have been struggling with the effects of COVID in the classroom. Now, many are saying that they're looking for a way out, even right here in Iowa.

Linda Craddick, a teacher at Central Middle school, has worked in education for 33 years. She was originally inspired to become one due to the influence that her own teachers had on her when she was growing up. Through her work, she got to pay that forward.

"The community of people I worked with, along with the students I was teaching, just kept me excited about going to work every day and teaching them and learning along with them," Craddick said.

But after all those years, she's decided to hang it up.

"I didn't think I would. When I got my last degree, it was only five years ago, and I planned to stay in 10 more years. But just because of the distrust the community seems to have in teachers, it's not worth it to me," Craddick said.

Craddick isn't alone; a new survey from the National Education Association found that 55% of teachers are planning on leaving education sooner than expected due to the pandemic. Tyler Stewart, a social studies teacher at Berg Middle School in Newton, is one of them. He told Local 5 that hostile rhetoric, particularly from legislators, was a major reason for his decision.

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"It makes us out to be the enemy, or the problem in the classroom. And that rhetoric is so dangerous because it leaks into the classroom. Why would kids respect that teacher if the parents don't anyway?" Stewart said.

One recent development in particular made his decision easier--a bill introduced to the Iowa legislature that would require cameras to be installed in almost all public school classrooms in the state, allowing parents to see livestreams of classes.

"Definitely, we're not trusted. That's what the cameras are there for. (...) It's just a poorly thought out bill. It's a slap in the face. They don't care about educators," Stewart said.

Those burnout issues go hand-in-hand with staffing shortages that have also been plaguing school districts. According to that National Education Association survey, 74% of teachers reported having to fill in for colleagues or take on other duties due to not having enough staff members available.

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