Keeping good teachers in the classroom

Filed under: Day Care & Education

After six years without a raise (and, in fact, a net decrease in pay), being called greedy by administrators and a school board, and an ongoing lack of respect from the public and in the media, my wife is considering the unthinkable -- quitting teaching. You have to understand that this is a woman who has known she was going to be a teacher since first grade and who started teaching, first dance then in a regular classroom, at the age of ten.

Over the last six years, her net pay has gone down by almost a thousand dollars a month. That might be tolerable if the school board hadn't labeled the teachers greedy for wanting a raise and wanting to hold onto their medical care. It might be tolerable if the media didn't blame teachers for the incompetence of administration, the lack of parent support and involvement with their children, and, it sometimes seems, all of society's problems.


We hear, over and over again, about teachers who have affairs with their students or who use inappropriate discipline, but do we ever hear about the many, many teachers who work late into the night, setting up their classroom and preparing lessons? Do we hear about the teachers who spend thousands of dollars -- we average more than $2k per year, our highest year was over $6k -- of their own money of school supplies for other people's kids? Do people ever think of the teachers who made a difference in their lives? Rarely.

There is an inevitable result to all this. Good teachers leave the profession all too regularly. My Rachel is nowhere near the point of really leaving the world of education, but she did seriously consider taking a year off next year and she has talked about moving out of the classroom for a while.

This brings me to the point of this story, an article on SFGate about what is needed to retain good teachers. It takes more than just money. According to a new study, "A Possible Dream: Retaining California Teachers So All Students Can Learn" from the California State University system, there are six changes that need to be made to keep teachers from quitting. These focus on the working conditions for teachers as well as providing the support they need.

Why bother, you ask? For starters, about 18,000 teachers quit in California each year. That's a lot of teachers that need to be replaced, meaning hiring costs, training, and so on. Meanwhile, the state already has a serious teacher shortage. Personally, I think we owe to ourselves to make sure that our children and their peers receive the best possible education from the best possible educators. I also think it is in our own best interest to make sure that the people in whose hands we place our children's future are adequately compensated, supported, and appreciated.


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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.