« Should Kindergarten Be Mandatory? | Main | Is Mental Trauma the New School Burden? »

Teacher Retention Is Harder Than Recruitment

Schools across the country are still struggling to recruit qualified teachers to fill openings as the fall semester is about to begin ("Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble (Credentials Optional)," The New York Times, Aug. 10). At least that's the case in math, physical science and special education. But I submit that the larger issue is retaining such teachers (" 'The Teacher Shortage' Is No Accident-It's the Result of Corporate Education Reform Policies," In These Times, Aug. 25).

According to the Alliance for Excellent Education, attrition costs schools between $1 billion and $2.2 billion each year.  The churn hits schools with high-poverty student enrollment hardest, as well as minority teachers. What's so troubling, aside from the pecuniary costs, is that it militates against efforts to diversify the nation's teaching force.  With underperforming schools composed disproportionately of black and Hispanic students, the flight of teachers from these two racial groups poses daunting challenges.

Districts are increasing relying on non-certified teachers and hoping that they will learn as they go along.  I understand the importance of mentoring, but I don't believe it is enough for success without prior student teaching experience. Nor do I believe that dedication and passion are sufficient.  I dealt with this subject recently in describing the experience of two Sarah Lawrence College professors ("Two Weeks to Admit Teaching Is Hard," Reality Check, Aug. 10).

If public schools are going to hold on to top talent, they are going to have to do far more to support teachers.  And the media are going to have to do a better job reporting on successful schools and their teachers. 


Notice: We recently upgraded our comments. (Learn more here.) If you are logged in as a subscriber or registered user and already have a Display Name on edweek.org, you can post comments. If you do not already have a Display Name, please create one here.
Ground Rules for Posting
We encourage lively debate, but please be respectful of others. Profanity and personal attacks are prohibited. By commenting, you are agreeing to abide by our user agreement.
All comments are public.


Most Viewed on Education Week



Recent Comments