Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Where Have All the Teachers Gone?

A lot of press has been generated recently about the crisis we are now facing in education, a teacher shortage. Blogger Peter Greene did a fantastic job of breaking down the situation state-by-state in this blog post a few days ago. Greene noted, “But mostly we need a new word, because we're not really talking about a shortage of teachers-- we're talking about a lack of incentives and an excess of disincentives to go into teaching.” When you take a look at the latest report produced by the USDOE the data shows that every state in the country except for Pennsylvania has reported a teacher shortage for the 2015-2016 school year. Some states show the number of categorical shortages to be higher than other, with Idaho seeming to need the most types of teachers. What becomes apparent however, when looking through the different lists from year to year is that the number of teacher area shortages has risen from the 1990-1991 school year to the current year. During the 1990-1991 school year the number of categories of teachers needed ranged from zero to nine. Now the range of shortages falls between zero and forty-three! What is also noticeable is the types of teachers in the states that are reporting shortages. In the early years of the report, the most seen categories of teachers in need were special education teachers. Of course, there are more categories of teachers today than there were in 1990. State governments and certification programs have realized the profit that can be made in creating more licensure needs in order to collect more fees, but we are now seeing categories of shortages listed that include our main subject areas, Mathematics, English/Language Arts, Science, History, and Social Studies. These are concerning trends.

Ask any teacher why they first got into teaching and you will get a varied list of responses. But most of those responses tend to have similarities. Some teachers will respond with something like this: “I have always had a love of learning and knowledge.” These are the teachers that find intrinsic value in having and understanding information. They see the need to learn from history to make better decisions in the future, the benefit of understanding different math processes to be able to look at problems and use logic to solve them; they apply various methods of the scientific hypothesis when researching. More likely than not, they are the people that have a stack of three or four books that are all currently in the process of being read, at the same time. With that love of learning comes the deep rooted desire to share that love with someone else.

Other teachers, we think usually elementary teachers, will automatically respond with a bright smile and say “Because I love kids!” These are the teachers that you find in the middle of bright, cheery classrooms. Rooms that have usually been set up over the summer and contain wonderful organizational items with labels in all colors of the rainbow. These are the teachers that are not afraid of messy hands and joyful hugs. Many phone calls home, daily parent logs, holiday decorations, stickers, stamps, cleaning wipes and plenty of soap are all very familiar to these teachers. These are the children that are there for the joy of childhood and are dedicated to preserving it.

Another group of responses will sound something like this: “I know the value of a good education and I believe I am responsible for providing that opportunity to our future generations.” Often this type of teacher can be found working within the community after school or on weekends. Many times they will volunteer for food shelters, to collect items for clothing drives, coach sports at the community center, or become involved in a neighborhood cleanup event. There are the teachers whose lives are deeply rooted in their communities and understand the need to work towards strengthening the development of a strong community to build a better future.

The teachers with a sense of humor will answer “I wanted summers off!” This is done in jest as those teachers think about the hours that are spent during the summer lesson planning, attending conferences, completing online courses, writing curriculum, searching online for lesson ideas and coming up with new ideas to become better at what they do. These are the teachers that maybe were not quite sure of what exactly they were getting into, but because of a love of many aspects of the profession, have stayed and made this into a career, and a life.

But the question that is causing so many issues these days is when we ask “What exactly makes a better teacher?” It is apparent that there are many different viewpoints and the politics behind these viewpoints are causing a lot of discord in the world of education.

So much discord in fact that experienced teachers are leaving the profession, and new teachers are not starting.

Why is it that people with the above mentioned beliefs are abandoning education, a career they dedicated their lives to? Where have all the teachers gone? Why are people that have dedicated their life to education suddenly leaving the profession?

We asked people that have left the profession to share why they have chosen to leave or retire early. A lot of stories share similarities but there is one underlying reason that seems to have caused the events that have led up to this teacher exodus. The intrusion of political and personal self interest in the education world. Instead of creating a relationship where the trusted experts are sought out to find solutions, a false belief of “We know what is best for education” has been created by politicians, corporations, and individuals interested in making a profit.

May people replied to our question and reading through the answers, different types of responses began to look similar. The main type of response could be gathered together into a category that could be titled, “Where is the joy of learning? Education reforms are not for children.” Other responses included stories of unfair evaluations, administrative bullying and not being treated like a professional. But it really boils down to the fact that education reforms are NOT for the children. Everything else that occurs as a conflict within schools is a direct result of that fact.

The following is a sampling of some of those stories. There is a lot to read through but we felt it was important to have these stories told and found it hard not to include any of them.

There are a lot there. There are a lot that are not being told.

Education reforms are not in the best interest of the students

After 20 years of teaching a wonderful school, surrounded by amazing - life changing - teachers, and coming to work with joy and enthusiasm most every day, I watched my colleagues for the last few years, wither up, their eyes became heavy and dark, many of our senior/master teachers quit or retired early and lunch hours - if we got together at all - which were usually full of idea sharing and laughter - were full of conversations of concern for kids, confused at why our nation was doing this to its future and frustration that the community at large was allowing this to happen to their beloved schools. Fit, happy people had gained weight - heavy stress weight, not the kind from a few too many delicious meals - and the parking lot would empty the minute our contracted time hit the hour, whereas before you would find people in their classrooms usually an hour early and more often than not, more than an hour later than contract time. For the first time I started to think seriously about retirement, became angered and frustrated when I realized that California will not let me collect the social security I paid into outside of teaching, and then I looked in the mirror and realized I looked and felt like all my other colleagues, both older and younger than me. It was a wash of sadness that came over me. I am counting the days (it will be years) and praying for a miracle. Praying that the United States of America will be taken back by the people and fight for privacy rights again, fair and equal taxes and restore public education as a right and not a commodity - removing the for profiteering component and giving it back to the States, the communities and the teachers to do as we are called to and qualified to do --- teach the future leaders, innovators and care takers of the United States of America - land of the free and home of the brave.

Retired early due to the implementation of a scripted reading program. Thankful I left when I did, because now they are using scripted math. Teachers from first grade up are platooning and little kids are marching in the halls from teacher to teacher throughout the day. My former colleagues are counting the days until they can follow in my footsteps.

I'm still hanging in there. I will be starting my 44th year in another week. But many, many of my friends have left the field recently. All are/were amazing teachers. They just don't like what they are being forced to do because of the damage they see. It's like teaching in a straight jacket. Me? I'm doing what I can to make an "oasis of good" in my classroom.

Teaching to the test has ruined instruction.

No Child Left Behind, testing and teaching to the test, terrible pacing plans, and Open Court took my fun and creativity away and I became an instructional robot. So I took very early retirement and now I volunteer to cover classes when teachers at my local elementary school have scheduled meetings. I really enjoy it without putting up with what the teachers have to put with today. There is still a joy at standing in front of a class, listening to the students read, asking them questions, and occasionally when the teacher is gone longer than expected using thinking games and improvisation to enrich the students. Interacting with the students remains a great pleasure!

I retired at age 60 after 37 years teaching because the stress of dealing with the continuing budget cuts, the emphasis on testing not children, the loss of support personnel, and the "reforms" that were being instituted, led to physical problems, namely A-fib. The lack of support for my class of 25, 12 of which were either receiving psychological care or suffering from PTSD.

I retired this year because I was beginning to feel more like a statistician than a teacher. I've watched as we gave up recess, gave kids a shorter lunch hour and had learning objectives pushed down a level. We treat kids like short adults and not kids anymore. The stress was getting to me.

I have 3 years left before the earliest date I can retire and at this point, am planning to do that. I originally planned to work another 8 years and retire when my husband does. I started teaching because I wanted to do something that made a difference. The increased emphasis on testing, which frequently labels my EL students as failures, is driving me out. My conscience bothers me when I have to participate in the test and punish system.

I retired before I was ready to leave the profession I love because the mandates pushed on teachers made it impossible to have joy and relationships in the classroom.

39 years as a primary teacher; kindergarten for most of it. Wanted to go to 40, but the last year I began to despise some of the practices in kindergarten, such as overloading class sizes, declassifying classified preschoolers, no classroom aides, hoop jumping and mindless paperwork to get services for students, lack of regard to the developmental needs of 5 year olds, reduced support staff, and complete lack of respect to veteran master teachers by those in power. I had a child who bullied, hurt others, disrupted instruction, lied, manipulated administration and after a Sept-December of his nonsense and the district's lack of action, I decided to retire at the end of the school year. Then, 28 days later is was injured by the very same student while trying to protect other students from his abuse. Completely torn rotator cuff, and now 32 months after that, I'm still under care. My last year should have been an amazing celebration of an exemplary career.

I just retired at 55 years old after 33 years of teaching elementary school in Virginia. I love teaching; in fact, I'm quite passionate about it. Children have changed over the years with different social trends coming and going, but in the end, they are still innocent children who need a teacher who cares. What's happening in my state is runaway assessment and data driven madness. I would still be teaching if not for the administrative insanity. What gets me is that the state mandates end-of-year-tests for grades 3-5, but the locality encourages the use of online assessments so that the students "get used to" the online assessment format. IN a survey our local education association completed in 2013, elementary teachers reported an average of 52 complete six hour instructional days devoted to all forms of state and local assessments (state online tests, local mandates online assessments, local "encouraged" teacher online assessments, State mandated individual reading readiness assessments-PALs, and local reading comprehension individual assessments-F&P). That's 29% of the entire school year! Local and state administration are blind to this data, although they are SLOWLY gaining new sight. I couldn't stand to be a part of this abuse of children any longer and figured I'd be better able to fight it outside the system

In the 15 years I've been a teacher, the curriculum has narrowed to what's going to be tested, to the detriment of student writing and critical thinking skills. I've seen a push for one size fits all while I am supposed to be differentiating and individualizing. I've watched as Teaching has morphed into Monitoring student progress on a canned, on-line curriculum program so that my role is simply creating spreadsheets. I foresee what you and I called 11th and 12th grade being moved into the community colleges, as we bring back a very limited kind of vocational "career and technical education."

I retired this past June the very minute I was eligible at age 61 after 25 years in an inner city district. I am National Board Certified and was a teacher of the year in my content area. I had the challenge and satisfaction of living my dream job for almost 20 of those 25 years- worked within a wonderful, collaborative team, wrote curriculum, helped form a standout program, held school based leadership positions, and was privileged to teach many incredible, talented students. What a difference 5 years made! Steady inevitable erosion of autonomy, the dismantling of the signature program by a Broad-trained superintendent, the relentless questioning of our professionalism, the disturbing realization that the first year the evaluations counted, I would be thereafter be scrutinized by admins who were themselves incompetent at their own jobs, let alone familiar with mine....all played a role in the decision. I leave behind amazing, supportive, dedicated colleagues and wonderful students and hopefully a positive impact through years of cooperative teaching with many student teachers. I am sorry that many of the new teachers I mentored may never know the joy and satisfaction of working with stellar principals and veteran and new colleagues to craft impactful programs that actually serve the needs of our students and communities. I am moving on to continue and expand my own creative work in the arts.

I am planning on retiring early in 2 years. Public education stopped being public years ago with NCLB and then RttT. Public Education is in the hands of non-educators, hedge fund managers, and bean counters. The amounts of wasted work teachers have to do, and the endless hours of student testing, only support corporate bottom lines, not the furthering of learning.

Huge narrowing of the curriculum at primary school. Children being expected to achieve levels they were not cognitively capable of and no focus on discovering what they WERE good at and working outwards from there. SATS (Standard assessment tests) in year six where in many schools the curriculum becomes wholly focused on teaching to the test and anything outside is forgotten and irrelevant. Little sport and sometimes no music whatsoever; tokenistic History and Geography and huge over emphasis on a narrow prescription of English and Math. Parents being told that "levels" were all important whereas in reality they are barely relevant. Knowing the difference between our State and private sector and the continual feeling that parents were not being told the truth about what really matters in Education. Disproportionate amount of paperwork to the extent that I was working all Sunday and missing out on my own young child. Her Dad had to take her out. Above all the feeling that one could no longer express a variety of different views. There was only one right answer. Everything had to be standardized. We even had one Head teacher who made us take all our labels off drawers and equipment and re do them in exactly the same font. And whilst I never failed to teach a single child to read I was expected to follow political rather than Educational theories and my own knowledge of what worked and didn't work. Reading demands phonics AND sight vocabulary. Sometimes I wasn't allowed to use one or the other because the political thinking in terms of what was right had changed. In a nutshell I was no longer allowed to be myself. I taught for close to thirty years but ultimately I just hit the end of the road. It began to feel like a mug's game and I wanted my life back.

I will retire earlier than I planned to because of testing and evaluation scenarios run by idiots who think that every teacher having the same thing on the board in the same place is what denotes good teaching.

I retired early because I couldn't look myself in the mirror everyday knowing that what I was being asked to do wasn't developmentally appropriate for the students in my class. Until BATS came along I didn't think anyone was ever going to challenge the administrations and politicians who were promoting all of this testing and teaching methods that are so wrong for all children. Even though it's too late for me I hope the trend that the BATS started continues until teachers are heard and changes are made.

I am too young to retire but could not stay due to moral issues with teaching to the tests and a complete disgust with administration and their handling of student data & discipline. Elementary schools are not for children anymore and I refuse to be a part of this abusive system.

I left because I believed what I was asked to do was educational malpractice. I taught first grade and the direction our literacy instruction was taking was not best practice and getting worse.

I retired in June of 2015 after 24 years in Texas public schools. I specialized in teaching struggling readers, and all of my students made progress in their reading skills, until last year. Because my students--who all had either SpEd designations or 504 plans--had to take the same STAAR test that everybody else did, people who were not teachers determined that the specialized instruction they had been receiving wouldn't prepare them, that they needed to be "exposed to all the standards" in regular classrooms "with co-teach support." My very individual students, with documented special needs, were forced to have their instruction along with everybody else, at the same rate, & to the same depth. At the end of the year, none of my students had made progress, and some had several tests showing loss of previous gains. Ten teachers on our campus were not rehired, another 6 transferred to other campuses or changed districts, and 3 of us retired. I couldn't continue to participate in the data/testing nonsense that was harming children. The stress was also taking a toll on my health, with chronic pain and gastric issues bothering me every day. I was fortunate that my age & years of service allowed me to retire with full benefits, but I sure wish I could've continued to teach the way my students needed me to.

First of all let me say I LOVE teaching, but HATE being a teacher. Unfortunately, I have 11 years before I can retire. I don't know if I can make it that long. I love the kids, but it seems their needs have increased over the years and I can't meet all their varied needs. The student needs have increased and the support staff has decreased. This paired with the increase in teacher responsibilities, constant testing, reduced resources, increased demands due to teacher evaluations, expectations that teachers must volunteer time or are marked down, etc. serves to create a extremely stressful work environment. More teachers are getting sick due to this increase in stress level. I use to be excited to go to school every day, but now it is difficult to even look forward to going to work. My dream has turned into a job.

I LOVE being a teacher and was at my best when I realized I could no longer be part of this inappropriate form of educating kindergarteners. I was a worksheet-free, developmentally aligned, theme based teacher. Then I was told to "follow the manual/workshop model with fidelity regardless of children's attention and physical needs." I refuse to turn children off to learning. My husband was incredibly supportive. After I submitted my resignation letter I testified on a legislative bill focused on parents being able to opt their children out of standardized testing. It was a highlight of that last bittersweet year. NCLB and narrow minded administration played a part. I do not regret being vocal for "my kids". My students were like family and each one mattered.

I went back to school to get my credential after 15 years in the "real world"--I LOVED teaching my 7th graders literature and writing and social studies. I taught for 24 years, and loved what I did (even though there were more and more restraints on how and what I could teach) for about 20 of them. Then we got a new principal, and a new policy, and yet another "silver bullet" teaching style. For those who know it, it's called EDI (Explicit Direct Instruction). For those who don't, it's a robotic form of teaching where all students are assumed to learn at the same rate with the same form of delivery. Need I say more? And since THE TEST was the only important goal, we were informed that we 1) should only use short excerpts of works when writing our scripts (yes--to add insult to injury, we needed to WRITE THE BLOODY LESSONS USING THEIR TEMPLATES!); 2) not "waste time" after the state writing test by teaching writing anymore; and 3) since I was an experienced teachers, I should have only the difficult students, because after all the new teachers needed the advanced students to learn how to teach on. Keep in mind, I had been department head for the previous 10 years. The final straw? When a student cussed me out and I was asked what I had done to "make him do that." (Uh...told him he needed to get to work?) Basically, I no longer was allowed to teach the kids. I had to teach the curriculum that was laid on us by people who had NEVER TAUGHT. That includes the principal. And said principal did not back his teachers in any way, shape, or form--if there was a student/teacher problem, it was ALWAYS the teacher's fault. Add to that the district wide push to eliminate homework. Just too many strikes against us. I retired.

I left in January after 38 years of teaching. I could have gone on and done more, but I couldn't stand to see what CCSS was doing to schools. All the joy has been drained out of the typical school day in favor of test prep. When kids are only as valuable as their last test scores, that’s when I go. Also, I had health issues. But I would have continued working with the health issues.

I am not trusted as a professional

*I taught high school English and journalism for 27 years. First they controlled and destroyed my journalism program, then they controlled and destroyed what I could teach in English.

The last straw for me was when my principal did not think teaching entire books was a good use of our time, and that we should just teach excerpts (like are on the tests) instead. He told me my very successful independent reading program was a waste of time.

Retired June 2014 after 24 years as a Rd. Spec. previously 14 years as an early childhood educator. I loved the people I worked with, the kids and families I worked for, but hated that I was not valued for my expertise in reading, but was being handed explicit instruction as THE script to follow. (Downgraded with deviations) I spoke my mind, but it was not appreciated although some 'off the record' agreed with me. Edited to add: That is why I remain active in BATS and continue to represent public education everywhere I can. I have my representatives on my frequent contact list.

I too am fortunate that I have the years and the age to retire with a full pension. I would like to continue until age 66, which would be 5 more years, but there are an increasing number of times where I resent the demands on my personal time so I feel I am not recharging my own batteries. I feel that the district has imposed so much control in the name of "consistency' and "standardization", that our voices as professionals are being silenced.

When our ability to affect change in our classrooms became less important than test scores and answering to admins who had little control over their jobs, as professional educators we left.

If I may speak for a colleague who just retired and is not a BAT... We teach at a 7th-12th grade school.
He would have been starting his 40th year of teaching. Our admin gave him (and me, but that's another story) a "demotion" of sorts by handing off upper-level courses to young, inexperienced teachers while giving him 2 seventh-grade classes. He has never taught middle school in his 39 years. That was the icing on the cake for him. Topped off the gradual erosion of autonomy and the rise of "data-based-decision making".

I completed my masters through a joint program between my university and our school district in curriculum and instruction (reading) in 2012. My fellow teammates and I were treated at our school like we didn't know anything about teaching. We felt we were being targeted because of our age (I was in my early 50s). I was working in an extremely low income school. The union helped 2 out of 3 of us get out of the school. I went to a school in which I was happier, but was bumped to another school at 10 count. I was given a tough group at the new school, but I could handle them. The following year, I was placed in a pre-K general ed./ESE blended class. I wasn't trained for ESE or writing IEPs. I can't believe the way I was treated that year. There had been quite a few tears that year and the past 10. Between all the hoops that we had to jump through for a positive evaluation, the lack of support from yet another principal, and the promise that the next year, I would have less assistance in the classroom and more children with IEPs, I finally decided (at the urging of my entire family), to leave/retire 7 years early. These reasons are just the final straws. The system is broken.

I would if I could. Sick of being disrespected, told how to teach, what to teach, when to teach, what strategies to use for a discipline that only those of us educated in it actually understand. Disgusted and dismayed that teachers have been pillaged & plundered out of our traditional role as the "keepers of the flame" and reduced to mere facilitators (which is really just another way of saying underpaid babysitters). Tired of being treated as an insignificant employee when they expect us to put in professional hours and maintain a professional persona without requisite professional salary.

Teacher bullying/Evaluation methods that undermine/Loss of job security

I worked in an early roll-out district which started using VAM/CCSS before many districts did, in fall of 2012...i was forced to retire early when my excellent evals of 28 years became failing evals...and also because district eliminated all librarians, two weeks before school ended, and would not let me apply for classroom positions...I had no choice i could find (this was like six weeks before BATs) so I had to retire early and lose most of my pension benefits

I have had it on my radar for three years now - can't afford to, or I would. STRESS!! This is a much more stress-loaded profession than it was my first year teaching in 1987 with a very low group of kids, a textbook adoption with another first year teacher, and a brand new school building with $100,000 worth of error retrofits! If any of the past 3 years would have been my first or second, I'd be long gone. The only reason I'm still in is that I got a specialist position, so I have no grading, no parent conferences, and no state testing, so I can JUST concentrate on curriculum. (And meetings....) (And after 4 pink slips, 2 years in temp positions, 4 school changes, and now 2 more room changes just this summer... to think back that I chose this profession for the JOB SECURITY??!!)

20 years with one county and then switched last year to another school division, which made me a probationary teacher. I got pushed out by a bully principal, who pushed out all the probationary teachers. I had to resign for the end of the year with 21 years of teaching. The division did nothing to stop the harassment. Finally the principal resigned in May, but the division wouldn't undo the damage that she caused. 45 teachers left the school for new jobs, or they were pushed out. So, after 21 years in teaching, I'm not mentally ready to go back into a full time teaching job at this point, even though I love teaching. I might be later, but for now, I am exploring all options. I can't go through another year of stress like last year, I have to take care of myself and my family.

I would have worked four more years to make 40 but I became anxious about teachers always being blamed for everything that went wrong. I got tired of the negative atmosphere that was developing. I retired in 2008 with 36 years of service.

I left the classroom after 22.5 years. I will still be a teacher but in a different non teaching role. I did it because I could no longer take the nonsense of administration bullying teachers, of the pressures of testing where I was not allowed to stay in the same room with my students during the test, the inability to hold back a student who lacked the skills to move on and the fear administration had to discipline students or deal with parents.

I resigned last year in April without being much choice. I knew on the first day of school when I met the new AP that I would not last. She was all over me...nothing I did was right. The excuse was that I came back from a leave and "everything is now different." I was observed more times than I can count and most of the time it was with 6 admins. My reviews were all ineffective. The reasons were untrue and some were flat out made up. The UFT chapter leader was notified of what was going on in October and he did nothing. Neither did the guy above him and above that guy. When I started getting written up daily I knew it was time to leave. The expectation was that I finish out the year and not return but I wasn't going to keep returning daily to a place that treated another human like this. The principal didn't hide her happiness and actually did a happy dance. The parents were furious...the principal has a reputation for doing this and they knew. Some called some protested a little but the school maintains that I left on my own and they don't know why. I did hear rumors that I was fired. I walked out of that building that I starlet in in 16 years ago and never looked back. Not one goodbye from anyone and not one person reached out to me since. Yes, they knew what was going on. Sad times.

I left teaching because of unfair teacher evaluation and lack of administration support. At one point my administrator came into my room and sat with my class of middle schoolers. The boys started to use foul language which I DID NOT HEAR but which she, the administrator who was evaluating me, did hear. She did nothing but let the boys spew the "f" bomb freely. Mind you I was teaching a lesson in poetry and the use of language. When I was close to those students they were respectful and on task but when I moved away to assist other students they used inappropriate language with her tacit approval; i.e. she was the principal, she heard them swearing, she said nothing, therefore it was okay. Then when I was evaluated the administrator noted that I had no control in the classroom using this example. I was flabbergasted. Talk about non-support. Even a raised eyebrow would have stopped those kids but to do nothing was just unbelievable. I found this kind of nonsupport and undermining to be harder and harder to deal with. Discipline means everyone does what is best for students, teachers and administrators. How did she gain any advantage by undermining my class in this manner/ Needless to say I struggled for the rest of the year to keep that particular set of boys in check. After I quit I was told the District was trying to get rid of older teachers because their higher wages. I was 62 years old. I had planned to teacher for another 8 years but not under those kinds of conditions.

I left teaching middle school special ed after 20 years in June. For the past two years, I was bullied by my principal and head of special ed. Between that and testing issues- giving life skills kids their age level tests, for one thing- I had to leave. I was very close to a nervous breakdown in April. I will miss the students, but now I can focus on my own children. No regrets.

When you are the union representative to your staff, and you have to take on the constant reform issues centered around contract violations, you become the target for dismissal. Although I survived probation due to a cranky email from my administrator the harassment continued. I was administratively moved five days before the new school year, had two interim principals who brought their supervisor to each of my observations, and post observations, and was rated 'Basic' by one point. (It took a lot of work on their part to find imaginary reasons for that rating.) My health suffered because of the stress. Anxiety attacks happened daily when I was on probation. The climate in which we teach is the climate in which our students learn. The district owes about a decade worth of my classes a redo with me. As a retired teacher I have been able to volunteer as a public school advocate. What a joy to still work for the benefit of students and colleagues.

I left teaching after 8 years total private and public. There was entirely too much bullying and harassment. During my husband’s illness and death last year I was treated horribly. Harassed while he was in ICU about IEPS by my supervisor and treated unfairly by administration. I loved the children, but couldn't take the adults.

As seen in the testimonials we have gathered, teachers are leaving for a variety of reasons. The reasons have nothing to do with just plain old retiring but have more to do with the current climate generated by corporate education reform. Renowned and award winning New York Principal Carol Burris stated in a current piece for the Network for Public Education Foundation:

“If we are to turn this trend around, we need to act now to not only stop the attacks on teachers and tenure, but to stop evaluation systems designed to fire teachers based on metrics that no one understands. And we cannot forget that pay and working conditions matter. It should also come as no surprise that in states that pay teachers relatively well like New York State, the shortage does not yet exist. Even so, enrollment in teacher preparation programs in the Empire State dropped 22% in two years time. Many factors are contributing to the decline.

It is time for policymakers to step back and chart a different course. It makes no sense to cling to failed reforms. As school begins, students across the country are paying a hefty price.

How ironic it would be if the reforms based on the belief that three great teachers in a row are the key to the student success, result in students not having certified teachers at all.”

It is time to ask some very hard questions. But perhaps the hardest one we will have to answer will come from the children, and they will ask, “Where have all the teachers gone? Why are people that have dedicated their life to education suddenly leaving the profession?”

What will our answers be?


  1. I retired early... to enter ordained ministry. When, during discernment, I was asked how I would handle being in a high-stress, low-status job, i just looked at them over the tops of my glasses and smiled. Bring it!

    I left primarily due to administrators with four years of teaching experience visibly expressing their disdain for the classroom and what happens there; for central office staff who treat us as unprofessional and the enemy; for being told repeatedly that our standards are too low but that my class was too hard, even though I championed my kids and their potential with every fiber of my being, and created a system whereby our test scores were 20% above the national average on the advanced placement exam. I still refuse to think that my students were incapable of high-quality work. I left because we had a central office administration that believed that "data was king" and forgot that we are dealing with living, breathing, dependent human beings, all of whom are unique and come to school with unique strengths and unique challenges. I left because more and more tasks were added on to teachers' loads each year, with nothing taken away.

  2. That writing is very impressive and full of information. Thanks for sharing this.That writing is very impressive and full of information. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. From what I've been reading just about everywhere, teachers are being forced into retirement due to age discrimination. This discrimination seems to start VERY early, late thirties, early forties. God help the teacher who's in her fifties. Someone needs to bring a massive, class action lawsuit over this.


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