Teaching is well known as an under-paying and over-working career and as a result teachers are quitting their jobs more than ever before.
Richard Ingersoll, an ex-high school teacher with a Ph.D. in sociology, says teaching “was originally built as this temporary line of work for women before they got their real job—which was raising families, or temporary for men until they moved out of the classroom and became administrators. That was sort of the historical set-up.”
According to the Atlantic, Ingersoll has confirmed that anywhere between 40 and 50 percent of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years. That’s about four percent higher than other professions.
About 16 percent of teachers leave their job every year, and 40 percent of people pursuing a career in teaching never enter the classroom. With teaching being a very important asset to society, a question arises: Why is teacher turnover so high?
Ingersoll says one of the main reason for teachers leaving their jobs is the lack of respect. He says, “Teachers in schools do not call the shots. They have very little say. They’re told what to do; it’s a very dis-empowered line of work.”
Emma, an ex-public school teacher from Kansas, says, “We are held up to a really high standard for everything […] it stems from this sense that teachers aren’t real people, and the only thing that came close to making me stay was the kids.”
The Atlantic states that, “many young teachers soon realize they must do overwhelming amounts of after-hours work.” Teachers are often very diligent with their work and put a lot of energy and th0ught into their less0ns, which quickly leads to exhaustion. And in a low-performing school, teaching can become very frustrating.
Abby Rosmarin, an ex-teacher writing for the ThoughtCatalog, says, “Three days into my very first job as an actual teacher, I found myself huddled by a park bench near where I worked, crying my eyes out, wondering if I’d ever calm down enough to go back.” After teaching for four years Rosmarin came to a conclusion,”I realized something I had been denying myself since day three: I was not cut out for this.”
Another reason for teachers quitting is the pay. The way the United States funds education is through property taxes, so if a teacher teaches in a poor area with low property value they’re not going to be paid very much. According to the Atlantic, “a starting teacher salary in the U.S. is $35,672.” At a salary like that, it makes its almost impossible for teachers to live and pay back the student loans they had to take out to go to school to become teachers in the first place.
However, going into this profession, most teachers know the pay isn’t high. Teachers become teachers because they want to teach, mold young minds and share knowledge and wisdom. Nevertheless, some teachers soon realize teaching is not a sustainable job, considering the time, effort, and emotional toll it takes on them.
Although there a lot of teachers that quit, there are still a lot who stay and teach, but even the ones who stay are burdened. A teacher who worked for almost 30 years all over the country stated, “When you’re in your early 60s and you’re still coming home with 65 hours of grading over two weeks…that’s very overwhelming. But I love working with teenagers. I love the relationships and I love being able to help them.”
But not all teachers can hold out for that long, its too much.
More and more teachers are leaving their jobs and its only hurting the students. The high teacher turnover rate must be lowered, and its relatively simple.
The way the U.S. funds education should be changed, teachers must be paid more, and administrations and students must be obligated to respect them.
The Atlantic proclaims, “If the overall attractiveness of teaching as a profession gets better, the best teachers will enter the profession, stay, and help increase the effectiveness of schools.”
If the quality of teaching jobs is improved, the profession will attract a lot more proficient people, and be able to keep them. Along with the act of improving teaching jobs, the education of this country’s future generations will also be enhanced.