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Active shooter drills, political climate push Kansas teachers to leave profession

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There will be a predicted 3,000 educator vacancies in Kansas by 2023, according to the communication director of the Kansas National Education Association.

At the start of the pandemic, teachers were praised for their ability to adapt. Now large numbers of teachers are leaving the profession earlier than expected.

At the end of the 2021-22 school year, more than 200 teachers retired or resigned from the Blue Valley School District. Despite being characterized as heroes early in the pandemic, some teachers now describe being labeled as "groomers."

Over the course of a year, retired Shawnee Mission School District teacher Barbara Casey said attitudes toward teachers changed, and teachers have become caught in a culture war.

There's a variety of reasons teachers across the country are walking away, including the overwhelming responsibility to protect children from active shooters, a hostile political environment and "out of touch lawmakers." Additionally, Marcus Baltzell, director of communication for the Kansas National Education Association, said there has been an intentional effort to shift taxpayer dollars from public to private schools.

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When I host Up To Date each morning at 9 a.m., my aim is to engage the community in conversations about the Kansas City area’s challenges, hopes and opportunities. I try to ask the questions that listeners want answered about the day’s most pressing issues and provide a place for residents to engage directly with newsmakers. My email is steve@kcur.org.
Hannah Cole is an intern with KCUR's Up To Date.
Elizabeth Ruiz is a freelance producer for KCUR’s Up To Date. Contact her at elizabeth@kcur.org or on Twitter at @er_bentley_ruiz