Unacceptable Losses

Kauchak & Eggen (2005) say, ”many new teachers end up leaving the profession. About 15 percent leave teaching after their first year, another 15 percent after their second year, and still another 10 percent leave after their third year (Croasmun, Hampton, & Herrmann, 1999)”  (p. 71). That’s an amazingly bad statistic. Forty percent of new teachers leave the profession within their first three years of teaching!

Something’s really wrong somewhere. Either the programs don’t weed folks out effectively. Or the prospective teachers don’t get the right academic training to succeed. Or there are issues with student teaching practices and/or the introduction of new teachers into teaching independently. Or there are issues of support for new teachers who are trying to find their feet. Or there aren’t sufficient remedies for teachers who’ve become dissatisfied early in their careers (“Sorry, goodbye” not being an ideal way of preserving that human capital). There are a lot of crazy statistics in education (like the amazingly low proportion of students who test proficient or better on anything). But this one is, for me, the most ridiculous. There’s either something broken in the system that forces these teachers out or something broken in the system that supplies the teachers in the first place.

It’s amazing that this doesn’t get more discussion around legislative initiatives. Education is such a central issue of our society and this is just flushing away years of preparation of eager volunteers. It is also amazing that the unions don’t do a better job of taking care of “their own.” Unfortunately, I think unions are so wedded to the seniority system that these new teachers don’t get on their radar. And of course, it’s amazing that the existing teachers don’t do a better job of helping the newcomers to their field. This is one of the easier questions to understand though. The older teachers are probably busy surviving themselves or dedicating their time to their students or counting the hours until they can retire. However, the lack of camaraderie among teachers is interesting to me. I see more polite competition than true cooperation.

Reference

Kauchak, P., & Eggen, P. (2005). Introduction to teaching: Becoming a professional (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.

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