Saturday, October 29, 2016
Why Teachers Quit The Profession.
Its no secret that teacher morale has plummeted, that widespread teacher shortages are a fact of life nationwide, Even in New York City, the Bronx has more vacancies than teachers certified in the subject. This has prompted our State Commissioner to propose that school districts allow the hiring of uncertified teachers from out of state to fill the vacancies. The question is why are so many teachers quitting? The reasons are many and until the education reform organizations lose power as the Obama administration is replaced by a more sympathetic administration, the exodus of teachers from the profession will continue and the shortages will get worse.
A 2012 MetLife survey showed that teacher satisfaction has dropped from 62% in 2008 to 39% in 2012 and I'm sure this number is even lower in 2016. In addition, 13% of the teachers leave the schools or the profession annually. Worse, in the most needy poverty-striken urban schools, 80% of the teachers leave their original school within five years and these schools lose 25% of their staff yearly. This high teacher turnover and attrition is hurting public education and most severely affects "high needs" students in deep poverty schools.. Its also not helpful that teacher pensions are unfairly blamed for State budget issues and the education reform organizations want to eliminate teacher tenure and make it a temporary job with no defined pension and retiree health benefits.
For example in New York City just take a look at our Renewal schools? They are a dumping ground for struggling students and few veteran teachers would even apply to teach there. Teacher attrition is high as "newbies" are hired and overwhelmed by the additional responsibility and accountability heaped on them in these academically struggling schools. How many of them will still be there in 5 years? Probably not many. These high teacher attrition rates are a norm for far too many high poverty schools in New York City and many of the reasons for the high turnover rate can be mitigated but the DOE closes its collective eyes to these remedies since it would have to remove poor administrators and provide adequate targeted academic support and resources to the schools.
Much of the reason for the rise in teacher dissatisfaction and attrition can be linked to President Barack Obama's education policy, implemented by his basketball playing buddy Arnie Duncan who ran the Education Department. The two crafted a 4.3 billion dollar program that was called "Race to the top" that forced States to develop a Bill Gates inspired teacher evaluation program, heavy on high-stakes testing, if they wanted funding and to receive a waiver from meeting the more onerous provisions of the "No Child Left Behind" act. This included using the Common Core, even when there were no curriculum developed for it and teachers not trained to use it. Moreover, the Obama administration encouraged states to approve charter schools as a condition to obtain the extra funding under his "Race to the top" program. The result was a doubling of charter schools during the Obama administration, from 3% of the total student population to 6%. Finally. the teacher evaluation system had to have a termination requirement that was linked to student growth despite studies that showed the unreliably of using student teat scores to determine student growth and linking it to teacher effectiveness, the Obama administration insisted on such linkage.
Hopefully, as the teacher preparation majors continue to shrink and the teacher shortage deepens, the pendulum will swing away from the education reform organizations and their media allies which blame the teachers on societies ills and give it the respect the profession deserves. Just maybe, the students won't be asking what happen to their teacher?