Veteran Teacher Breaks Down Why Teachers Are Quitting & It's Not Because Of Low Pay — 'These Kids Have Given Up On Life, They're 12'

Some blame social media, others blame parents and pandemic trauma. But something is definitely going on with our kids.

Screenshots from TikTok of teacher explaining why teachers are quitting TikTok

We hear about it constantly. Teachers are resigning in droves, and everyone claims to know exactly why teachers are quitting — they simply aren't paid enough.

But a teacher in Texas with 13 years in the field says it has little to do with pay and everything to do with disturbing trends she's seeing in her students — trends other teachers are disturbed by as well. 

A veteran teacher says students' behavior is why teachers are quitting.

Teacher resignations at the end of the 2021-2022 school year were at an all-time high in many parts of the country, according to education research non-profit Chalkbeat, and morale is shockingly low, too. A 2022 study by the Education Weekly Research Center found that just 12% of teachers are satisfied with their job, and a staggering 55% are considering leaving the field. 


TikToker Teresa Kaye Newman has been a school band director for 13 years, and she says she knows exactly why teachers are quitting in such enormous numbers — and pay is only part of the story.

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The teacher says even a pay raise would not fix the problems teachers are facing. 

As a band director, Newman is among the highest-paid educators in her school, but she's still nearing the end of her rope. "Even if every teacher in the state of Texas got a $10,000 raise per year, we would still be dealing with some of the same issues we're dealing with right now."


To illustrate what teachers are up against, she used examples from her own current working situation. "Let me just tell you what I've been dealing with in the last 48 hours... Yesterday, I broke up an assault in my band hall — not a fight, an assault, a kid punching another kid in the head at least four or five times," Newman recounted.

That was from all — another child destroyed "every single French horn we own," and it took just 24 hours for a student to break the band's brand-new drum set, which Newman says her students "have been begging me all year to play."

Even more bracing, Newsman says she's "been told by multiple people on my campus that the band kids are the best acting, well-behaved students on campus." If this is what she's up against, imagine what other teachers are facing.

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The TikToker says the reason why teachers are quitting is that students are experiencing mental and emotional health issues and have 'given up on life.'

"This is not a money problem. It's not an admin problem. It's not a parent problem," Newman said. "It is an emotional dysregulation problem." Of course, tweens and teens are always at their most emotionally volatile no matter the circumstances, but Newman says something has changed in recent years. "Never in my 13 years of teaching have I ever had such a problem" with kids' behavior, she says.

And she says "the corrective measures that we've used in the past do not work anymore." She's noticed time and again that students "do not care if they fail, they do not care if they're written up," and while she's hesitant to be "a millennial teacher that blames technology," she said it seems that all students care about is "how they're going to be entertained in the next five minutes of their life."

Newman began to tear up as she recounted the shockingly sad impact this seems to have had on her students. "It's as if some of these kids have literally given up on life. It's like they've given up on doing anything special. And they're twelve. They're twelve."

She went on to say that she is "beaten and abused and tired," and says that the system isn't working. "We are failing them, and the teachers. We're failing teachers, too," Newman said.


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Many fellow teachers agreed with Newman and blamed social media, the COVID-19 pandemic, and parents.

Many were shocked by Newman's bracing video, but teachers weren't among them. "We almost need a year where all academic curriculum is put on hold and it’s all like group therapy/team building, no joke," one educator wrote. "As a teacher — I agree 100%," another added. "The amount of things I do during my day that are not teaching is just not sustainable. The behaviors are not manageable."

Other teachers cited social media as contributing to the problem. One teacher recounted how his students' behavior shifts dramatically when he confiscates their phones. Another said they felt like their students were addicted to "the serotonin hit" social media provides. 

Plenty of people blamed parents too. One commenter disagreed with Newman's take. "It's 100% a parent problem," they wrote. "Their kids' behavior begins and ends at home. If the parents don't support you it will never improve."


But out of all the factors at play, the mental and emotional health impacts of the way our world seems to be cracking apart at the seams, especially since the COVID-19 pandemic, stood out head and shoulders above the rest. One mental health professional wrote, "I’m a therapist and seeing the same thing. Teens with no hope for their future, convinced life isn’t worth living & ready to give up completely."

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"I look at the world we’re living in and feel like there’s no hope," another woman wrote. "War. Politics, shootings..the environment. Maybe they feel it too?" Newman heartily agreed. "They DEFINITELY are impacted by it," she replied. "That’s why the traditional intervention methods don’t work anymore. They are just as nihilistic as we are." It's not just an American problem either. "I'm a teacher in Chile and I'm telling you this is a global thing," another commenter wrote. "The pandemic destroyed these kids."

For their part, the experts agree. According to the American Psychological Association, mental health issues like depression and suicidality were already on a staggering rise among youth before the pandemic hit, soaring 40% from 2010 to 2020 — a trend that "certainly got worse" during the pandemic, according to New York University psychologist Dr. Kimberly Hoagwood. And that's only the beginning of what kids are facing, as the APA illustrates in the video below.​


Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency has warned that climate change is negatively impacting kids' mental development as they witness constant disasters like catastrophic fires and hurricanes. Not only that, but teens have been found to be hyper-aware of the political turmoil around them, and accordingly, the CDC has reported that 57% of high school girls and 29% of boys reported "persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness" in 2021.

So what is the solution to this crisis — and all the reasons why teachers are quitting? Newman says a concerted effort toward mental health support in schools for students.



Of course in a country whose governments are more focused on banning books about Black and LGBTQ history and keeping transgender students from playing sports than addressing actual problems, the likelihood of Newman's solution coming to pass is next to nil. Call your congressional representatives and demand better. Our kids are desperate for it.


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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers mental health, social justice and human interest topics.