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High Teacher Turnover Should Never Be Acceptable

Jane Fung

"The kids think nothing about having huge teacher turnover every year. To them, it is normal to have at least one temporary teacher, or a teacher leave in the middle of the year."—comments from Wilbert, an inner city high school teacher.

Why is high teacher turnover acceptable in some schools and not in others? I have watched a class at my school have five different teachers in 79 days of school this year. I would venture to say that what is happening at my urban, high-poverty school would not happen at my friend's school across town in a more stable, middle-class neighborhood or the high-performing school just six miles away.

Then why is this acceptable for my students? It is not. District and school leaders need to step in and work with us towards solutions to ensure that all students have an equal chance at being successful.

Teacher quality is essential for student success, but so is teacher stability. Nine years ago I transferred schools. Although I brought my skills and experience to the new school, it took time to get acclimated to my new community, student population, colleagues, and school culture. If teachers come and go constantly at a school, will students have the same opportunity to be successful as their counterparts in more stable schools?

We need to hear from teachers who teach in schools with little or no teacher turnover. Share with us the "secrets" to your success and how leaders might implement them for all schools.

Jane Fung is a National Board-certified teacher in urban Los Angeles, where she currently teaches 1st grade. She serves on the board of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, and she is an active member of Accomplished California Teachers, Teachers Leaders Network, and Milken Educator Network.

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