Accuracy in Media

Teen Vogue presented a source as an impartial expert on the teacher shortage — but the trouble is, that source is one of the country’s biggest teachers’ unions.

The opening: “The National Education Association (NEA), the largest teachers’ union in the country, recently dropped an astounding piece of information: Schools across the United States are facing a shortage of 300,000 teachers and staff. “ A teachers’ union is of course not an impartial source. They’re going to say, shortage, more pay! Which is indeed what they do say. There should be higher pay for teachers, fewer hours, more support and everything else that a union is paid to ask for for its members.

We don’t blame the NEA for this, that’s what a union is for. But we do – and should – blame Teen Vogue for swallowing such obvious self-interest as their laying out of the facts.

As The74, a news site for the teaching profession not limited to one union, points out, the shortage is more than somewhat exaggerated: “Nationally, an estimated 36,504 full-time teacher positions are unfilled, with the number potentially as high as 52,800, the report found.” And that report is, in the absence of uniform Federal data for the entire country, pieced together from the best available resources. As The74 also goes on to point out, the number of students is declining slightly. Partly demographic changes, partly more of those who do exist exiting the public school systems. That means the number of students per teacher is falling – not exactly a signal of a great shortage of public school teachers.

From Teen Vogue: “Another factor that has contributed to many teachers leaving the field: lack of competitive pay. In August, the Economic Policy Institute released data that found teachers make about 23% less in their profession than “comparable college graduates” in other fields.” And there it is. The EPI is a very pro-union research organization. The NEA bigs up the number of the teacher shortage, the EPI points out that wages are low – the result being we’re all primed to raise teachers’ wages.

Again, the NEA is doing, however much we might disagree with them, what they’re supposed to do, they’re a union. Objecting is like insisting that the steel workers’ union shouldn’t argue for more pay for steelworkers. Teen Vogue is not doing what it’s supposed to do – weigh and consider such propaganda rather than repeating it wholesale.

Teen Vogue: “The solutions to the teacher shortage seem obvious: Educators need better pay, for one. Domenech agrees that higher pay is important, but other solutions, including more resources and a restructuring of the classroom, are necessary for the prolonged health of the profession. “A long-term solution is changing the working conditions of teachers,” Domenech says. “The model of 30 students to one teacher is no longer appropriate; we should have a team approach where every educator has an aide or a student teacher to provide additional support.”

Yep, swallowed it wholesale.

Teen Vogue ranks within the top 500 of U.S. news and media sites. It gains some 5.4 million visits a month from that position. More importantly, it sees its mission as “educating the influencers of the future.” A noble goal and one we share. It’s just that perhaps Teen Vogue could try educating?

One part of education is that everyone, every grouping, is out there for what can be got. There needs to be if not suspicion then at least testing of claims made. Are these people telling me the truth about the problem before I think about implementing their solution to it? Or, well, might it be their self-interest talking? That would be educative.

Rather than, as here, simply repeating the talking points of the NEA.




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