‘It’s always been optional’: Arlington Education Association president responds to statement on summer program teacher shortage

Face mask on a teachers and school desk in a school classroom.(Getty Images/iStockphoto/MarianVejcik)

The Arlington, Virginia, Education Association president is responding to a statement from the school system released Monday saying some summer programs will not be held because of a teacher shortage.

The statement said that despite financial incentives for teachers, there were fewer applicants than students eligible for summer instruction, which means they could not offer summer strengthening to all of those students.

“It was very hard to hear and very disappointing to read,” said Ingrid Grant, president of the Arlington Education Association.

She said she felt as though the school system was “pointing fingers” at the teachers and blaming them for not wanting to work in the summer.

“It’s always been optional, so why should it be any different right now,” Grant said. “They continue to put our educators against our students and our parents and that’s not our case. Our educators go above and beyond what’s expected of them before COVID, during COVID, and even more as  we’re coming out of it,” she said.

She said most of the teachers have returned to teach in the area and they want their summers off, adding that some are working 15 hour days and that prepping for school lessons has been more time consuming since the pandemic started.

“They want to be able to kind of regroup and whatnot, you know, think about what happened, you know, this year, and what may happen going into the fall, and being able to put their selves and their families first, I think, ultimately is what they need right now or want right now,” Grant said.

Grant added that it’s been a tough year that has shown how important teachers are in the community. She said that right now, there’s not a lot of enthusiasm and support for teachers.

“Morale is not high right now. It’s very low for me, and I know for many other educators,” Grant said.

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Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

WTOP’s John Aaron contributed to this report.

Valerie Bonk

Valerie Bonk started working at WTOP in 2016 and has lived in Howard County, Maryland, her entire life. She's thrilled to be a reporter for WTOP telling stories on air. She works as both a television and radio reporter in the Maryland and D.C. areas. 

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