Thursday, April 20, 2006

Teacher Attrition

Ms. Frizzle (check my favs) found this little tidbit from the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future , a document that shows, at length, about the problems in education with finding and maintaining quality educators. More and more teachers are leaving the profession for a variety of reasons, income being among the top of the castle. Just today I ran across an article in the Contra Costa Times about teachers leaving the Mt. Diablo school district for greener pastures because they don't have adequate medical coverage. One of the teacher's that was interviewed mentioned teaching at San Ramon Valley High for a 70K salary. That might sound nice, but 70K in San Ramon will not buy you a home, at all.

The problem is getting worse before it gets better. Teachers in Oakland barely reached a deal, and still seem to be preparing for a stand-off. Culprit? Health care. Hell, teachers in Yreka protested increases in their costs of health care. Within six years, they are looking to pay $1,000 a month. $1,000 a month?!!??! Who the hell is going to want to work for $34 grand a year, and have $12,000 eliminated for health care?

Well, according to the report, not many. We all know the scary "First Five/Fifty Gone" statistic. Basically half of all teachers that start the profession don't last past the five year mark. I'm currently in my fifth year, and I have every intention of staying, but at the same time, I can just feel underapprciation by society regarding education. It does make me consider other options, but being with good kids makes me think otherwise. However, if I was in a bad district with bad admin, I'd have left a long time ago. Other statistics that are also not surprising is that Special Education teachers are most likely to leave. They are under enormous pressure and are compensatated way too little. If Special Ed were to strike, every district would be fucked. Can you say "massive lawsuit"? Also no surprise, Social Science (cough, cough) teachers are least likely to quit. I think that it is extremely relevant and interesting, and teachers that make it that way for the kids have good classes. I've heard that Social Science degrees are easy to come by. Ok, but bullshit. My History/Social Science degree was a bitch to get. Sitting through opinionated poli-sci classes and boring as hell Medieval Europe classes does not classify my degree as "easy".
Reasons for leaving the profession? Well, salary ranked second in low poverty areas (like San Ramon), and fifth in high poverty areas (like here in Ukiah). I agree with that, because even though I hate the low salary, I can live with it. The number one reason teachers leave the profession? Poor Administrative Support. For the record, I had excellent administrative support when I started out.........and still have it to this day. I am in an environment that is very conducive to creating effective teachers. Admin will leave you alone if their are no problems, but will no bullshit when something is wrong. At the same time, occasional compliments are not uncommon from the admin as well. Hey, I got lucky.
Interesting to point out the National Board Certified Teacher numbers, a little over 25,000. Some in our district push this for the little raise you get with it. Bah! I'm not interested in going through my credential program again. The government should be kissing the ass of good teachers and cut the check anyway, not force them to do a bunch of busy work portfolios that give you student teaching nightmares.
The end of the article gives some options in regards to paying teachers, both of which are crap. Giving a veteran teacher $40k and calling it a good salary is an insult. Requiring the National Board Certification nonsense is pure insanity.

In the end, it seems like society is simply going to have to realize that they can't get a free lunch, even in education.
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