- A relatively low teacher retention rate in the United States has contributed to a shortage in the workforce, and NPR Ed recently asked four teachers why they left the classroom.
- Robert Lutjens left his middle school science position in Sugar Land, TX because of a school culture that focused more on passing students that actually helping them learn, and Danielle Painton left her Pennsylvania elementary school because of an over-emphasis on testing.
- Ross Roberts gave up on his special education job in eastern Tennessee because he didn’t have the classroom resources he needed to teach or the wages to buy materials himself, and Sergio Gonzalez left a dual language middle school classroom in Wisconsin after Gov. Scott Walker launched his attack on teachers unions in 2011 and increased animosity against teachers in the community.
Most teachers leave the classroom because of their personal working conditions. Some schools and districts can become an oasis, offering teachers the resources and supports they need to do their jobs, even though a toxic political environment infects state or local policy. These schools don’t necessarily have to pay their teachers the most, compared to other schools, but creating a supportive school culture helps fill the void that budget realities can’t overcome.
A Learning Policy Institute report from September highlighted the United States’ 8% attrition rate among teachers, double the rate of countries with high-performing education systems, including Finland and Singapore. Shared decision-making in schools helps with teacher morale, as do high-quality professional learning communities that give teachers time to collaborate and improve their craft together.