If teaching is such a plum, then why do 16 percent of public school teachers on average leave the profession or change schools each year? (“Teacher turnover is a problem – here’s how to fix it,” the conversation.com, Sep. 7). Before jumping to conclusions, I think it’s important to distinguish between the two groups if a solution is ever going to be found.
Teachers tend to jump ship from inner-city schools to suburban schools because students in the former bring huge deficits in learning to the classroom through no fault of their own. Frankly, I don’t blame them. Teachers want to teach their subject. If they have to attend to other factors, they become burned out. They did not sign up to perform triage.
Teachers who quit the profession entirely do so for other reasons. Typically, it’s because they can earn far more money in the private sector. That is particularly so with teachers who are certified in STEM. There are other teachers who come to realize that teaching is not what they expected.
When teachers leave the classroom during the school year for any reason, it’s estimated that comes out to a loss of between 32 and 72 instructional days. But students in high-poverty schools suffer the most because they already have the fewest resources. Nevertheless, there’s always a loss created by the disruption.
Yet I believe that too little attention is paid to low morale. When teachers hear nothing but criticism for what they are doing, they begin to question their decision to stay in the classroom. I don’t see any evidence that matters are going to improve in this regard. If anything, it’s only going to get worse.
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