Sunday, May 03, 2009

Trends In Education

Sometimes when we look at a profession, we need to examine trends in that profession's workforce and ask the reasons for those trends. We are quick to talk about test scores and how teachers avoid accountability, but we don't speak often enough about these figures.

9.3% of public school teachers leave before they complete their first year in the classroom. More than a fifth leave their positions within the first three years of teaching. 30% leave the profession within five years of entry and that number jumps in more disadvantaged schools. At the end of the 2003–04 school year, 17 percent of the elementary and secondary teacher workforce (or 621,000 teachers) left the public and private schools where they had been teaching.

I think it's important to address these statistics when we talk about reshaping education. While we talk about accountability, it is also important to talk about the effect of environment and morale in a workplace and how such elements affect the production and efficiency of the worker.


SQT said...

This economy isn't going to help either. I live in California which, as everyone knows is bankrupt, so teachers are getting laid off in large numbers-- I've been hearing about it at my daughter's school. I remember when I got my credential. They had just passed a bill to lower classroom sizes and they were hiring lots of new teachers. It was a very optimistic time. Now, those class reductions are likely to be gone within the next year. I hear a lot of pessimism in the profession right now--with good reason.

spyscribbler said...

Can I tell you? Most of my American parents don't want to hear from me; it's too inconvenient, even if it's something good. My Asian parents?

Get this: they sit in on the lesson. They make a point of, at least once every lesson, saying "wow" under their breath, or some such thing after I've shown their kid something. They are embarrassed if they don't do an assignment (which actually doesn't happen). They never treat me like a babysitter and always respect me.

I love the kids; it's the parents. This year, I had three parents who got mad at me and all quit because I got down on my knee (to be eye-level) and said in a slow, serious voice, "If you don't practice your assignment, then next week we have to repeat the exact same lesson again, and we don't get to learn a new song. It's been four weeks that we've had the same lesson because you haven't practiced your memory bag. You need to practice your memory bag so we have time for the running and jumping game."

You should have seen it. It was like I had screamed at their child and told her she sucked and was an idiot or something.

Parents are REALLY different now, and I've only been teaching for about fifteen years.

I will be quitting within a year, max. A month, if I can manage it.
I'd do it forever if it were the kids. It's just the parents. I'm done. I have so thoroughly had it.

spyscribbler said...

Eek. That was a bit long. I'm sorry. Now I'm embarrassed, LOL!

SQT said...


I've been out of the classroom awhile-- but that's how I remember it too. I had a lot of "drive-by" parents. I would never have seen their faces if I didn't follow their kids to the parking lot to find mom and dad so I could ask them a quick question. I volunteer in my daughter's classroom. I don't do much, but at least she knows I'm there and that I'm interested. I honestly don't think many kids get that.

L.A. Mitchell said...

This is so daunting. I'm within a week of applying to re-enter the profession for next Fall. With time, I seem to have forgotten most of the frustrations. I guess I'll need that healthy dose of optimism back.

Charles Gramlich said...

I'm pretty sure I could never teach in the grade schools. I can't see how anyone stays at some schools.

Mark Rainey said...

I consider myself fortunate to work for an educational publisher (The Mailbox magazine & book company) so that I can contribute to education without actually having to be in the classroom. Don't think I could take it and remain sane.