Teachers leaving the profession continues to be a serious problem in education.
Even though the demand for teachers is higher than ever, there are teachers leaving the profession in staggering numbers. School boards and educational research organizations are trying to discover why this is happening.1
As a past teacher, I can give some first-hand reasons why teachers consider leaving the profession.
Let me clarify, I loved teaching and the impact the profession has on the next generation; for me, the decision was more a change of lifestyle than a displeasure in my career. I can, however, give some practical concerns arising among teachers that lead to many of them choosing a different career.
#1 – LOW SALARY
I think the main reason teachers are leaving the profession is the lack of competitive salary. Many people believe that teachers have “the easy life” because they get summers off, but teachers work significantly more hours than we get paid1 for, especially when we have a dual assignment such as sponsoring a club or coaching a sport. If you took the average yearly salary and divided it by the number of hours that most teachers actually work; the result was that teachers make about $10.00 an hour with all the late nights on buses coming back from games, and early morning tutoring sessions for struggling students, not to mention the three page essays for one hundred and fifty students. If you are considering going into teaching for the money, then you may want to reconsider your career choice.
#2 – STUDENT BEHAVIOR
The second reason why I believe teachers are leaving the profession has to do with the lack of morals and discipline that some students receive at home, and the inability to do much about it in the classroom. This generation is the most fatherless, divorced, and neglected generations in the history of America, and it is noticed in the classroom. For young teachers, it is often difficult to balance teaching with discipline when respect and honor for teachers has not been instilled in students. Some students are not taught moral values at home, and children are often in situations where they raise themselves. In this case, it becomes difficult to expect a teenager to follow your rules and turn in homework when the student has never had to follow rules or have responsibility at home.
#3 – LACK OF SUPPORT
On the other side of that argument, and another main reason for teachers leaving the profession, is the issue of parents. The problem with some parents is that they often see their child through rose colored glasses. Their child could curse at you and throw a desk across the room, and somehow the parent will find a way to blame the teacher. It is very difficult for teachers, especially young ones, to help parents understand that their child must take responsibility for their actions. Parents look to school administrators to discipline teachers for their child’s failure, all the while having no expectations for their child to change. This is a very difficult and tricky situation to navigate, and if a teacher does not have the support of administration, the teacher will find themselves in meeting after meeting getting reprimanded with very little positive outcomes.
#4 – TOO MUCH TESTING
The last reason teachers leave the profession is probably the most frustrating, and that has to do with standardized testing. Many districts are being pressured to perform better “or else” and I agree that performance standards need to be raised, but the responsibility must fall equally on students and parents as it does on teachers and administrators. If other professions were treated like teachers, then every time a person committed a crime in their jurisdiction, a police officer should be fired, or every time a patient got sicker, a doctor should lose his license. The fear of losing a career because a fifteen-year-old does not take a test seriously is a sad reality of standardized testing.