Why Teachers Quit

WHY TEACHERS QUIT….Ken Futernick of the Center for Teacher Quality at Cal State Sacramento recently conducted a study of why teachers drop out of teaching. The study itself seems so poorly designed as to be worthless, but his conclusion still has the ring of plausibility:

“When teaching and learning conditions are poor, we discovered that many teachers see their compensation as inadequate. When these teaching and learning conditions are good, not only do teachers tend to stay, they actually view their compensation as a reason for staying.”

The findings suggest that when teachers unions advocate primarily for salary, they have it somewhat wrong. On the other hand, Futernick said, administrators are clearly misguided when they focus single-mindedly on getting rid of “bad teachers.”

….At high-minority and high-poverty schools, teacher turnover typically runs at 10% annually. “If this churning is going on, you can be sure you have a dysfunctional school,” Futernick said. “As long as we think of these schools as combat zones, we’ll never solve the retention problem and we’ll never close the achievement gap” between white and Asian students and their black and Latino peers.

That sounds about right. But complaining about low salaries and bad teachers is a lot easier than focusing on the seemingly intractable problem of dysfunctional communities creating dysfunctional schools. So that’s what we do.