Sunday, April 06, 2008

Why Teachers Leave

The NEA has a story on their web site, originally published in their mouthpiece rag, about why teachers leave the profession. Here are their main reasons:

--lack of respect

Go read the story if you can stomach the stupidity, if those are the best reasons they can come up with. Here are the easiest replies to each of them:

--NEA contributes more to the lack of respect than any other single organization
--if you really claim to want to help kids, especially those who are most at risk, you want those students identified, and you want the schools that aren't teaching them identified
--can you teachers identify how much money your state spends on education, and if you claim it's not enough, explain how much would be enough?

Remember, folks, these union types are college-educated and they're teaching your children.


Anonymous said...

"Remember, folks, these union types are college-educated and they're teaching your children."

See you not the irony here?

Darren said...

No irony, just sad--you'd think they'd be smarter.

allen (from Michigan) said...

I'm no apologist for the NEA but it's a product of the public education system more then it's are an enabler of it's shortcomings.

Just like the UAW grew first on the basis of the superior productivity of Ford and GM and then on the de facto monopoly following World War II, so the NEA grew on the flood of money that came into public education starting in the early '60s.

While I agree that the NEA contributes to the erosion of respect for teachers I just don't see any other outcome. As an industrial union in the mold of the UAW there's a very limited number of demands the NEA can make on behalf of its membership and from outside the profession it all amounts to organizing for selfish ends. Not the sort of thing Miss Crabtree would've done and so the respect accorded her, springing directly from the meager compensation she received, gets washed away with each strike and each contentious contract negotiation.

One way in which the NEA might contribute to the reduction in respect for the profession is in the union's resistance to the differentiation of the profession. The union resists allowing pay rates to mirror demand and that contributes to the preception that teachers are interchangeable cogs in the education machine. If one teacher's as good as another then how much can there be to the profession?

NCLB's the current source of all evil. If the NEA could figure out a way to tie NCLB to global warming they'd do it in a heartbeat but the erosion of respect for the profession predates, by a long way, the passage of NCLB.

Under-funding's the perennial source of all evil so no point in flogging it.

Ellen K said...

There have been many stories about the GPA of general education majors being in the bottom half of the class overall. That's not to say all are mediocre, but enough are that it should be a problem. But then again, there is cause and effect. If you were a person who was good at math or science, wanted a seemingly lucrative career, and especially if you were a minority student, would you teach school? Of course not. Talented folks in science and math are in high demand no matter what their background. That person would become a technician or an engineer or do something that had upward mobility attached to experience. In most schools, getting a Master's degree gets you a big $2000 per year raise. In comparison to the tuition charged by even state schools, that's chicken feed. There are two types of people who go into teaching, those who feel it is a 'calling' not unlike a religious moment, and those who truly cannot think of anything else to do. Sadly, for those of us who like to teach and who do try to teach, the teachers and administrators who have been laterally moved and pushed from place to place make our job that much tougher because we have to deal with the damage they do to kids later on down the line. And as for unions, I understand why they exist, but when you consider the ridiculous way unions have kept criminals and perverts on public school payrolls in places like New York City, you have to wonder if they have a mission statement or if they are simply pushing paper. I have jokingly told my own kids that the desire to teach is a genetic flaw. My two oldest are VERY good at teaching-one is teaching a college level class right now and they are both looking for jobs in education. Frankly I have warned them that the key to job security is to have coaching certification and they both took it to heart. My son will teach history-his first love-and coach soccer-his second, if he can find a job. My daughter is going to avoid the public school problems by getting into a grad school and teaching at the college level. But honestly, she has already seen the same problems seeping into that situation. What are we going to do as a nation when nobody knows anything anymore? And I thought "Idiocracy" was a parody.

Ronnie said...

I don't think they are underfunded, I think the distribution of the funds is completely wrong. We spent thousands of dollars to redo the furniture in the office at Rio, even though the original furniture had been adequate for 30+ years. Why did we do this? Because we had so much money earmarked for furniture projects and we had to spend it. I saw waste coming from all directions when I was working on the site council budget. We spend far too much on administration and far too little on things that will actually help students learn.

If you actually take the time to read the articles you link to you would find the perceived lack of respect comes from the perceived lack of pay. Now I've heard you complain about teacher pay before so I would think you find the pay somewhat unsatisfactory, and the article just mentions that when compared to the private sector the respectively low teachers' salaries can lead to feelings of disrespect. They also complained that the present practice of enticing new teachers with bonuses that end up in the long run being relatively unsubstantial helps undermine the perceived respect.

Darren said...

Paying me as much as a 2nd grade teacher, or a social studies teacher, or *every* other type of teacher undermines respect. And that pay scale is a union creation.

Ronnie said...

I completely disagree with you on how you should be payed more than everyone else just because you teach high school math. Sciences such as biology, chemistry, physics, and computer science all have major amounts of pay difference between high school teaching and their respective private sectors. If we are to entice high quality teachers they need to be payed high quality salaries.

Just because someone has to teach more elementary material doesn't mean they should be paid less, teachers should be paid by their quality. A good 2nd grade teacher is a lot more important to most students than a high school math teacher; you have to be able to read, write, add, and subtract before you can even think about algebra or beyond. It seems to me that the biggest problem for teachers is they don't actively participate in their unions, because if that were the case the union would truly be representing the teachers and fighting for higher pay.

Darren said...

You don't demonstrate a knowledge of supply and demand.

I've been a union rep before.

You clearly don't understand unions.

Anonymous said...

"if you really claim to want to help kids, especially those who are most at risk, you want those students identified, and you want the schools that aren't teaching them identified"

That is not how NCLB works though.

Have you EVER taught in a poor school?

Ronnie said...

Labor Union: An organization of workers formed for the purpose of advancing its members' interests in respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions. If a union is not providing these service obviously it's members are either completely satisfied, which probably isn't the case, or the union is now only working for itself. Solution, make the union work for the teachers again. I think just giving up isn't really a solution, but having actual teachers be involved might be.

Darren said...

Yes, I have. We were an II/USP school under California rules--that's "immediate intervention/underperforming schools program".

I disagree with you when you state that identifying schools with poor performance is what NCLB does.

Darren said...

Ron, unions here in California *do* work for themselves, because they're entitled by state law to my money whether I want them to have it or not. If they were *voluntary* associations, then unions would have to work for and satisfy their members. As it is now, in California and in other states that are not "right to work" states, the members are nothing more than cash cows for the union bosses.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, I have. We were an II/USP school under California rules--that's "immediate intervention/underperforming schools program".

Yeah, but were there a lot of niggers?

People who take their own kids medication and give their kids heroin?

Darren said...

The very definition of a troll.

I've decided to post this comment to show my readers exactly how foul some people are. Usually I just delete anonymous comments that are gross, but I'll let this one pass--so that you have an understanding of what I sometimes have to put up with as the author of this blog.

Dr Pezz said...

In my area the lack of respect stems from a perceived lack of pay and little respect from the administration.

As someone involved quite deeply in my local union, I don't believe all unions are always evil institutions, but I do believe they reflect the involvement and energy of the people getting active in them. Change comes from individual members. Members in my district rarely get involved, bitterly complain, and always accept every advance the union makes.

I also don't necessarily believe one teacher to be more valuable than another based on the subject taught, only by impact and earnest efforts do I make judgments. I'd say it's a slap in the face of teachers to be judged simply by the subject taught.

Darren said...

You imply a false dichotomy. I didn't say or even imply that teachers should *only* be paid according to their subject matter. If respect is demonstrated by how much you're paid, then if you want respect on par with what you could get in the business world you have to be willing to accept some market forces in your teacher pay.

allen (from Michigan) said...

Dr. Pezz wrote:

> In my area the lack of respect stems from a perceived lack of pay and little respect from the administration.

What would you expect? Bottom of the professional hierarchy and the career potential of the administrators is independent of the quality of teaching skill of the teachers they oversee. From the point of view of admins teachers, like students, are an unpleasant necessity and the less trouble they are the better.

Whether the teachers teach or the learners learn is largely immaterial to administrators.

Ellen K said...

There's always the old adage that respect is earned, but I think our culture has become one that only respects the trappings of power. Fast cars, big houses, trophy wives hold far more oomph than graduate degrees or even common wisdom. The kids I have now largely predicate their majors based on what they see as their future income. They don't get it the laws of supply and demand make all those engineering majors a cheap corporate commodity, just as they did with computer science majors in the nineties, BBA's in the eighties and so on. But that is what has become of outcome based living. We are supposed to guarantee success and students are now supposed to be consumers. So at what point do these consumers need to begin paying their dues? I predict a long and tenuous adolescence lasting well into some people's Forties before this blows over. In the meantime I stand by my prediction that in the next ten years, people who can read and write will make virtual slaves of those who cannot.