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Pandemic fuels staggering teacher shortages across the U.S.

The pandemic has pushed teachers out of the workforce in droves, and many schools don't have a strong safety net to fill the gaps as children come back into classrooms.

Why it matters: Teaching has been one of the toughest pandemic-era jobs, with pivots to remote learning and then risk of infection with school reopenings.

  • Teacher retirements are up 44% in Michigan since August, Chalkbeat in Detroit reports. “The pandemic is a game-changer. I think there’s going to be record retirements," Dwight Pierson, a high school teacher in St. Johns, Michigan, told Chalkbeat.
  • Long Beach Unified, one of the largest school districts in California, saw teacher leaves of absences spike by 35% this year, per EdSurge.

There's also no safety net, with substitute teacher shortfalls in many districts.

  • 73% of districts said their need for substitute teachers was more dire in 2020 than in 2019, per a recent Education Week survey of principals and school administrators. And 74% said the number of applicants for sub positions dropped.
  • Case in point: Gwinnett County Public Schools in Georgia, which is one of the country's largest districts, with about 178,000 students, is dealing with a 30% drop in the number of available subs, according to the New York Times.

What to watch: Schools are hiring. While many industries are still recovering from the initial pandemic crash, job openings for teachers are actually 2% higher than pre-pandemic levels, AnnElizabeth Konkel, an economist at the jobs site Indeed, tells Axios.

Go deeper: America's massive teacher shortfall is stunting student learning

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Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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