Gen Z (and A) Return to School…With Surprise Extra Work To Do

The Bridge: Gen Z is gearing up to return to school as more than just students. As staff positions open up to them, how will school as we (and they) know it be changing in the coming years??


School Daze! 

It’s every parents’ favorite time of the year…or at least it used to be. Back-to-school season has gotten progressively weirder in our post-2020 world. While advancements in technology have rapidly paved the way for digital learning, social movements are also advancing in the education sector. Nationwide teacher strikes, hiring students as staff members, and Gen Z mental health concerns are some of the things to consider while doing our back-to-school shopping – and that’s just high school!


Back to The Future?

The quality of our kids’ public education largely depends on the teachers, but they have some quality concerns as well. You’ve probably noticed that many teachers have resorted to strikes in an effort to guarantee their access to better pay and classroom resources – like air conditioning. These strikes, alongside infrastructural issues within schools, are leading many school districts to reinstitute remote learning – bringing to mind pandemic first days of school at the kitchen table.

We’re in the best of times… and the remotest of times – or whatever Charles Dickens said.

Speaking of kitchens… how would you feel about your kid showing up a little earlier to serve lunch to their classmates? Would you feel comfortable dropping them off for a morning shift cleaning the auditorium? You may want to consider these new realities as school districts are combating short-staffedness by tapping into a resource they have in spades – the students. Hiring students as janitors, lunch workers, and administrative assistants is becoming a last ditch effort to keep schools functioning. Gen Z definitely wasn’t expecting this kind of “School Work”.

We’re not completely opposed, but it is a little…weird.

If your Gen Z wunderkind is in dual enrollment classes, or looking to enter into trade schools, they might be recruited to offset the lack of staff – with your permission, of course. The logic behind this is that industrious students already have one foot in the “real world” and can manage the workload. It’s honest work, and they’re paid the same as an adult, but the question on everyone’s mind is: is this really the best solution? 

Despite the teacher (and substitute teacher) shortages, back-to-school season is looking to be great for most – especially with COVID-19 cases on a steady decline. Only time will tell if this revolutionary approach to school staffing will benefit or detract from actual education. Regardless, we’re looking forward to seeing the graduating classes of 2022 collect their diplomas, and maybe some paychecks, in person.

sidehustlin’ // freepik x L. Aguayo

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