It wasn’t her teenage students who drove Meghan Sharp out of teaching—it was the crippling inflexibility of her administrators.Here is the study from the National Center for Education Statistics. According to the article, it would seem like teachers are leaving education in droves at least as compared to 15 years ago, right. Well, yes and no. According the NCES study the top two reasons why teachers leave the classroom are retirement (30 percent) and to take another education related but not teaching job (29.1 percent). The latter could be administrator, public policy, consultant or any number of other jobs. Another 12.5 percent leave to care for family members. Only twelve percent take a job outside the field of education.
All the innovative curriculum ideas and field trips she proposed to engage her 10th grade biology students were promptly shot down, and she left the profession after just two years.
“I still enjoyed teaching, but it was a constant battle with the administration,” says Sharp, who worked in an urban district in northern New Jersey. “I had to do things like submit weekly lesson plans. There was a lot of bureaucracy.” She now goes by her maiden name and asked Teacher Magazine not to identify her old school because she works as an education policy analyst.
According to a recent report on teacher attrition by the federal National Center for Education Statistics, her predicament—and her departure—are common in the profession. Among former teachers who took noneducation jobs, 64 percent said they have more professional autonomy now than when they taught. Only 11 percent said they’d had more influence over policies at school than in their current jobs.
The survey, based on interviews with more than 7,000 current and former teachers, also found widespread problems with workloads and general working conditions, and it notes that the percentage of teachers abandoning the classroom continues to grow. Among public school teachers, that proportion reached 8 percent in the 2004-05 school year—up from 6 percent in 1988-89.
Of those staying in the field of education, over half, 54 percent, are working for the local government, which leads me to conclude that those who stay in education are working for the school board in some capacity. Likewise, 28.5 percent are working for the state governemnt. So over 80 percent of public school teachers who leave teaching stay in teh education field working for the local or state government bureaucracies. (See table 7 of the NCES study).
Yes, teacher turnover is a problem, particularly when trying to find staffing for the regular turnover of younger workers, those most prone to change career tracks and at teh same time dealing with a large retiring workforce. But take care when reading these "the sky is falling stories."