Status: 21.09.2023, 19:25 p.m.
By: Max Müller
Civil servant or employed? For teachers, this is more than a small detail. © N. Bruckmann/Midjourney (machine-made*)
Just in time for the start of the summer holidays, many teachers became unemployed – and were hired again for the new school year. New figures show how pronounced this disturbing practice is.
What is being said in the staff room? About the student from 6a who constantly disrupts math lessons? The next school trip? The approaching holidays? Far from it, says Matilda Schuster on the phone. "The perennial issue par excellence is the unequal treatment of civil servants and salaried teachers," she says. It is a delicate topic, especially within the college, which is why Schuster does not want to read her real name in the newspaper.
She should know first-hand, because Schuster teaches at a school in the Rhineland. "No one can understand that there are civil servant teachers who earn more money and enjoy a great deal of security, and on the other hand colleagues who don't have all this," says Schuster. Because one thing is clear: "We all do the same work – and everyone feels how intense the strain is," says Schuster. Everyone agrees that the burden is mainly due to the lack of staff.
Dramatic situation in schools: how many teachers are missing
How dramatic the shortage of teachers is and will become depends on who you ask. The Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs assumes that there would have to be around 2025,25 more teachers by 000. By 2030, the gap is expected to be around 31,000 teachers. The renowned educational researcher Klaus Klemm is even more pessimistic. He predicts that by 2025 there will be a total shortage of 40,000 teachers. By 2035, the number is expected to rise to 85,000. Everywhere, lateral entrants are already being hired, and federal states are vying for new staff with civil servants.
But at the same time, almost unnoticed, there is a practice that does not fit the status quo at all. It's about salaried teachers, who often have fixed-term contracts – until the start of the summer holidays. Then they are unemployed for six weeks and are hired again. An approach that saves money, but does not necessarily contribute to making the profession more attractive.
Nearly 4,000 salaried teachers became unemployed before the summer holidays
From a request from the Left Party to the Federal Government, the IPPEN. MEDIA, current figures are now emerging. According to the report, 2023 teachers registered as unemployed in June 326, when the big holidays began in North Rhine-Westphalia alone. In August, now all states were on vacation, the number skyrocketed to 3,787. Figures for 2022 show that the new entrants to the unemployment statistics are short-lived because they are reinstated in time for the new school year. In September 2022, for example, 4,083 previously unemployed teachers resumed work nationwide.
Susanne Ferschl, deputy chairwoman of the Left Party parliamentary group in the Bundestag, criticises this: "Lost hours at schools and high sick leave and burnout among the remaining teachers – that is the reality in German schools. Although the problems are well known, thousands of teachers are still being sent into unemployment during the summer holidays in order to be rehired in time for the start of the school year."
Figures decline slightly
It would be wise to constantly lament the shortage of teachers and at the same time order overtime and restrict the right to part-time work in political helplessness. "If you want to change the educational misery, you have to ensure good working conditions for teachers, in addition to a training and investment crisis for schools," said Ferschl. "Because if you save on education, you steal the future of our children and young people."
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Nevertheless, there is a bit of hope. Compared to last year, the number of people entering unemployment in August declined slightly nationwide. In 2022 there were 4,553, this year around 750 fewer. Still far too much, Schuster thinks. She is not affected by the procedure at all, because she has already reached the saving shore: the civil servant.
*This image was created with the help of machine assistance. A text-to-image model was used for this purpose. Selection of the model, development of the model instructions and final editing of the image: Art Director Nicolas Bruckmann.