Friday, December 28, 2018

Teachers Quit Jobs at Highest Rate on Record by the Wall Street Journal

Small raises, budget frustration and opportunities elsewhere persuade teachers and other public-education workers to move on

“Teachers and other public education employees, such as community-college faculty, school psychologists and janitors, are quitting their jobs at the fastest rate on record, government data shows.

“A tight labor market with historically low unemployment has encouraged Americans in a variety of occupations to quit their jobs at elevated rates, with the expectation they can find something better. But quitting among public educators stands out because the field is one where stability is viewed as a key perk and longevity often rewarded.

“The educators may be finding new jobs at other schools, or leaving education altogether: The departures come alongside protests this year in six states where teachers in some cases shut down schools over tight budgets, small raises and poor conditions.

“In the first 10 months of 2018, public educators quit at an average rate of 83 per 10,000 a month, according to the Labor Department. While that is still well below the rate for American workers overall—231 voluntary departures per 10,000 workers in 2018—it is the highest rate for public educators since such records began in 2001…” (“Teachers Quit Jobs at Highest Rate on Record,” Wall Street Journal).

Commentary (from MONDAY, APRIL 25, 2011)

An Implicit Goal of Some Illinois Legislators Is to Ultimately Destroy the Teachers’ Pension and the Teaching Profession:

Teachers were stunned last spring when Senate Bill 1946 passed in less than 12 hours. “It is estimated that [the Teachers’ Retirement System’s new] Tier-Two benefits will be 30 percent less than benefits for Tier-One teachers, if the final average salary and creditable service time for both are equal” (Illinois Education Association, IEA).

Furthermore, teachers retiring with “10 years of service credits under [the] Tier Two [plan] would actually earn more benefits from Social Security” (IEA). Besides other egregious changes to the teachers’ pension, with the creation of a Second-Tier, teachers hired after January 2011 cannot receive their pension benefits until they are 67 years old: this would be the highest retirement age in the nation!

What could be the effects if Senate Bill 105 proposed by Senator Chris Lauzen, et. al. and HB 149 proposed by Representative Tom Cross, and other pension bills are passed in the future? Even without discussing the third incongruous part of this fire-breathing Chimera, which also includes a Tier-Three Defined-Contribution option, presumably, many young teachers will not continue to work in Illinois or lose their desire to teach.

Students across Illinois will be deprived of receiving an excellent education from the best teachers available, and they will become the unintended victims of this legislative charade. Teachers in the Tier One pension plan will also lose an essential financial resource needed for pension sustainability -- perhaps the unstated objective for those legislators who want to challenge the Pension Protection Clause. What's more, the “best and brightest” teacher candidates will not major in education. These young aspirants will find other professions that value their passion and competency.

There will be a teachers' shortage in Illinois (and elsewhere) if attacks on teachers' pensions and their profession continue. The teaching profession, as we know it, will be in jeopardy in the future.  


  1. When I started teaching by Karen Moody

    When I started teaching, my principal worked WITH me, she encouraged me, she applauded me, she valued me.
    When I started teaching, I had the freedom to choose our reading material and design lessons without templates.
    When I started teaching, I liked going to work.
    When I started teaching, there was laughter in the classroom and joy on my kids' faces - well, oftentimes.
    When I started teaching, I felt proud to say, "I'm a teacher.”
    When I started teaching, I was not judged by my kids' performance on standardized tests.
    When I started teaching, I wasn't scared all the time.
    When I started teaching, there weren't teams of scowling administrators in my classroom with open laptops, tap, tap, tapping away at my self esteem.

    When I started teaching, I didn't cry in my car.

    When I leave teaching, I will be completely emasculated, chewed up, and spit out.

    The bastards won.

  2. “…After 22 years, I don't know if I have it in me anymore. I am a teacher. I will always be a teacher. I love teaching, but this isn't teaching. Everything I am required to do is about preparing my students for ‘the test.’ I spend all day, every day, ramming test prep down my students' throats. Then I do what seems like 8,000 reams of paperwork each week to prove that I'm ramming test prep down my students' throats. There is no joy in this for them. I see their blank faces with eyes glazed over. There is no fun or excitement in learning, for they are not really learning.

    “This past weekend, I spent literally every waking hour working and taking breaks only to do laundry and prepare food for my son. I wrote my lesson plans with all of the required ‘non-negotiables’ included and explained. I examined my data to make decisions about what skills might need some re-teaching and what skills could be practiced and reinforced in centers. I dutifully created my differentiated centers and made them rigorous (a term that has no business in education). I printed off copies of things on my own printer, using my own ink and paper because we only get 1000 copies per month. I laminated, cut, and put things in folders to make sure I was all ready for today.

    “Then, in the middle of my ELA block this morning, my principal walked in to do a walk-through. Apparently, this go round was focused on centers because she asked to see mine as she did for all of my teammates, I later learned. Well, I figured this one would be easy after everything I did over the weekend. She looked at them, asked me a couple of questions, and left. My observation notification came through after school. Imagine my surprise when I received a Basic for Danielson Domain 1e: Designing Coherent instruction.

    “My principal's only comment: ‘While it's good to see differentiated centers there needs to be paired texts and writing in your centers.’ Make no mistake, I am open to criticism, especially when criticism is constructive and valid. This, however, is neither constructive nor valid. This is about playing a game. This is about making up a fault that isn't included in the rubric when you can't find one that is. This is about making sure that teachers don't get too many points so we can keep those merit-based raises to a minimum.

    “This is what education has become. It's a game; it's inauthentic; it's draining. They're putting out the fire that has blazed inside of me. They're destroying my soul and my passion. I don't know what to do now. I am a teacher. I will always be a teacher. I love teaching, but this isn't teaching”-Anonymous.

  3. “…Yes, a lot of people have worked hard to turn my job into something I barely recognize, and yes, I am on the butt end of a whole lot of terrible education policy, and yes, I am regularly instructed to commit educational malpractice in my classroom. But here's the thing-- you don't pay me nearly enough for me to do my job badly, on purpose.

    “I'm not going to make [my students] miserable on purpose. I'm not going to waste valuable education time on purpose. I'm not going to teach them that reading is a miserable activity with no purpose other than to prepare for testing. I'm not going to tell them that these big stupid tests, or any other tests, or grades, even, are an important measure of how ‘good’ they are or how much right they have to feel proud or happy or justified in taking up space on this planet. I'm not going to tell them any of that.

    “Most of these new education reform policies are wrong. They're bad pedagogy, bad instruction, bad for students, bad for education, and we all know it. I am not going to spend another day in my room pretending that I don't know it… And the work I am committed to is the education of young students, the work of having them become their best selves, of finding their best way to be in the world as they choose to be. I am not committed to a year of narrow test prep and a tiny, cramped definition of success. I am not committed to a view of compliance as the highest human virtue. I am not committed to the work of trying to force them into some box that the corporate world has built for them.

    “My first allegiance, my first obligation is to my students-- not the board, not state education bureaucrats, not policy makers, not test manufacturers, not to people who think they need to know what's going on in the school but can't be bothered to get their butts here to use their own five senses to find out. I have no obligation to those who want to profit from my work, and I have no obligation to people who want to use my classroom to further their own political or financial agenda.

    “So I will stay here, and I will do what I consider-- in my professional opinion-- to do what is best for my students and my community. When I am told to implement a bad policy, I will circumvent it by any means at my disposal. I will disregard directives to commit malpractice. I will question, I will challenge, and I will push back. I will speak at every board meeting. I will talk to every parent...

    “Quitting? Hell no. If you want me out of here, you will have to fire my ass, and I will make it just as public and loud as I can, so that you have to step out in front of the community and explain why you're doing it. Hell, we may all end up in court, going on the record about the crap you tried to force me to do to these children…”-Peter Greene.

  4. In what other profession by David Reber:

    “…Countless arguments used to denigrate public school teachers begin with the phrase ‘in what other profession….’ and conclude with practically anything the anti-teacher pundits find offensive about public education. Due process and collective bargaining [and pensions] are favorite targets, as are the erroneous but tightly held beliefs that teachers are under-worked, over-paid (earning million-dollar pensions), and not accountable for anything. In what other profession, indeed.

    “In what other profession are the licensed professionals considered the LEAST knowledgeable about the job? You seldom if ever hear ‘that guy couldn’t possibly know a thing about law enforcement – he’s a police officer,’ or ‘she can’t be trusted talking about fire safety – she’s a firefighter.’

    “In what other profession is experience viewed as a liability rather than an asset? You won’t find a contractor advertising ‘choose me – I’ve never done this before,’ and your doctor won’t recommend a surgeon on the basis of her ‘having very little experience with the procedure.’

    “In what other profession is the desire for competitive salary viewed as proof of callous indifference towards the job? You won’t hear many say ‘that lawyer charges a lot of money, she obviously doesn’t care about her clients,’ or ‘that coach earns millions – clearly he doesn’t care about the team.’

    “But look around. You’ll find droves of armchair educators who summarily dismiss any statement about education when it comes from a teacher. Likewise, it’s easy to find politicians, pundits, and profiteers who refer to our veteran teachers as ineffective, overpriced dead wood. Only the rookies could possibly be any good, or worth the food-stamp-eligible starting salaries we pay them…

    “If that entire attitude weren’t bad enough, what other profession is legally held to PERFECTION…? Are police required to eliminate all crime? Are firefighters required to eliminate all fires? Are doctors required to cure all patients? Are lawyers required to win all cases? Are coaches required to win all games? Of course, they aren’t.

    “For no other profession do so many outsiders refuse to accept the realities of an imperfect world. Crime happens. Fire happens. Illness happens. As for lawyers and coaches, where there’s a winner there must also be a loser. People accept all these realities, until they apply to public education.

    “If a poverty-stricken, drug-addled meth-cooker burn downs his house, suffers third degree burns and then goes to jail, we don’t blame the police, fire department, doctors, and defense attorneys for his predicament. But if that kid doesn’t graduate high school, it’s clearly the teacher’s fault. And if someone – anyone - tries to tell you otherwise, don’t listen. He must be a teacher.”