Want to Reduce the Teacher Shortage? Treat Teachers Like Professionals

Teacher And Pupils In High School Science Class All of a sudden everybody is talking about the teacher shortage, thanks in large part to a recent article in The New York Times that examined the desperate measures districts are taking – including dropping certification requirements – to fill vacancies. Too many pink slips were given out during the recession, the economy is improving, the teacher pool is dry, so we need to recruit, recruit, recruit. End of story? Not so fast, says Richard Ingersoll, professor of education and sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. Ingersoll, who has been tracking the teacher profession for years, recently spoke with NEA Today about the nuances behind the teacher shortage narrative and why we need to turn the spotlight on keeping good teachers in the classroom.

We’re hearing a lot in the media about the teacher shortage across the country, and some are even calling it a “crisis.” What does the data tell us about what’s really happening?

Richard Ingersoll: It tells us this: We do not have a teacher shortage in the sense that we have an underproduction of new, qualified teachers. The conventional wisdom – seen in the flurry of news reports at the beginning of every school year – tells us that we do, but It’s not true and it’s never been true. We do, however, have schools where the principals report that they have difficulty filling positions in some fields, which are usually math, science and special education. So there are hiring difficulties, but it’s mostly due to too many teachers leaving before retirement. That’s the basic story.

Why_Teachers_Leave

People look at recent enrollments from colleges and schools of education and say, “Gosh, there are hardly any new graduates.” That seems reasonable, but in fact newly-qualified grads are only a small part – maybe one-fifth – of the teacher supply pool. Far more come from what we call the “reserve pool” – former teachers who come back in –  or “delayed entrants,” people who went through those programs but didn’t teach right away. It’s true that enrollments in teacher colleges over the last few years went down, but that was no doubt due to the fact that hiring had slowed down and people realized that many of last year’s graduates weren’t getting jobs. So maybe as demand is going up, some of these programs may begin to take in more applicants.

So, yes, there are problems out there with hiring. The economy seems to be improving. But I thinks it’s a case of wrong diagnosis, wrong prescription. We should always recruit new teachers but the real issue is, how attractive a job is teaching? Do people want to work in the school and, more importantly, do they want to stay there?

So this is really a retention issue?

RI: If you look closely, the vast majority of job openings are simply a result of people who left at the end of the previous school year. This is pre-retirement turnover, mostly driven by dissatisfaction. And we’re seeing large school-to-school differences in turnover, even within the same district. We always want to recruit more, but this totally ignores that too many teachers leave within the first five years. Instead of working on keeping and supporting new teachers, the conversation is about very expensive and often ineffective recruitment initiatives. We’re widening the gate and lowering the bar.

Dr. Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Richard Ingersoll of the University of Pennsylvania.

What drives low job satisfaction among teachers?

RI: Salary is definitely a factor, but it’s not the most important one. The data consistently show us that a big issue is how much voice, how much say, do teachers have collectively in the school-wide decisions that affect their jobs? Are teachers treated as professionals? That’s a huge issue. Coupled with that is giving individual teachers discretion and autonomy in their own classroom. Teachers are micromanaged. They have been saying for a long time that one size doesn’t fit all, all students are different. But they’re told to stick to the scripted curriculum, which might work for a weaker teacher but it drives good teachers nuts. And for beginning teachers, the lack of support is a key issue.

The poorer schools and the urban schools have higher levels of turnover overall because they tend to – not aways –  have worse working conditions. They’re usually the most centralized and the most micromanaged in this era of accountability.

What is the attrition rate for newer teachers? There’s been some conflicting numbers about this recently.

RI: Right. We generated this statistic over a decade ago that 40-50 percent of beginning teachers were gone within five years. This past spring, the U.S. Department of Education released a new study, the Beginning Teacher Longitudinal Survey, which shows a lower rate in the first few years. I would like to say that the rates of attrition are lower because job satisfaction has improved. Maybe we’ve made some progress, but that’s premature. I suspect it’s simply due to the recession. During a bad economy, employee turnover goes down. We’ll know more when we get the next wave of data.

What are some of the costs associated with high teacher turnover?

RI: There are benefits associated with some degree of employee turnover –  you get some fresh blood, you want your lower performers to move on, etc. But high levels of teacher turnover are not cost-free, which many school systems have always assumed  to be the case. We’ve tried to drill down on some of the costs and consequences. I had a  doctoral student, for example, who found in New York City Schools that, over time, a chronically revolving door hurt student achievement. And the financial costs of having to fill these positions every year is very, very high. The private sector understands these costs. I’m not sure school districts do.

What needs to happen to address turnover and where are you seeing progress? 

RI: Well, teachers should be paid more, but that’s a tough one politically because it’s a money issue. Reducing class size is important but also expensive. But here’s the thing: Improving many workplace conditions, giving teachers a voice, treating them as professionals doesn’t have to cost money. It’s a management issue.  Now, it may not be expensive, but that doesn’t make it easy. This is not Singapore or Finland or Korea.  Teaching is not held in high esteem in this country.

I do like this small movement of teacher-run schools, where teachers are the partners, similar to a law firm. They decide salaries, curriculum, everything. So that’s a professional model that has a lot of promise.

For newer teachers, the good news is that the “sink or swim” model has largely disappeared. We have seen a big growth in induction and support programs – mentoring especially  – for beginning teachers. Obviously they vary in quality. But there’s been improvement and we have a solid body of research showing positive effects, even on student achievement.

If we don’t figure out a way to reduce teacher turnover, the best recruitment strategies won’t work. Think of it as trying to pour water into a bucket that has holes at the bottom. Our focus needs to be on plugging those holes.

Photo: Associated Press

  • Exec

    Hey, my family is full of teachers. I am married to one. BUT… treat teachers as professionals?
    Do you want to go into the office to work for five or six hours on saturdays? Be afraid to go home before 7:30PM? Never be able to take the full two weeks of vacation you earn a year? DON’T DO IT!

    • Kathy Green

      There is so much added on to a teacher’s work load in this day of accountability, that I actually DO go in to school to work on my own time for 5 or 6 hours on Saturday and/or Sunday, and I often stay at school until 7:30 pm. And a majority of my summer was spent either working on school “stuff” in my classroom or at home, or attending meetings/professional development. I should be treated as a professional, and be paid like one!

    • Teacher

      I’m already afraid to go home before 6-7. That’s after I get there at 6 am. I already work in Saturday’s because if I don’t I’m behind, not just on planning but putting together data for the slew of reports that need to be sent to the district. Yes, Summer may be time off but It is more than earned with the copious amount of unpaid overtime we put in.

    • Mamasama

      Don’t forget how much teachers spend out of their own pocket to purchase things like file folders, paper, pens and pencils, etc. because the school can’t afford to provide them! Those who believe that teachers are only “on the clock” while the kids are there think teaching is easy, with summers and breaks off. In reality, they work throughout with lesson planning, grading, filling out a thousand types of paperwork to show that their students are reaching the expected achievement levels. Overtime pay? Hah! Vacation — not when you’re expected to take continuing education courses to keep your certification (no raise, just maintain the level you’re receiving). If my husband works an extra hour, it shows up on his paycheck — mine? nope.

      • John Tuttle

        That because 80% of the school budget goes to teacher salaries. All of the book I have to buy for my job and they languages and new systems I have to learn during my own time or I am replaced. Every year we have the schools doing fund raising to get more money for the schools. I am on salary so I don’t get any extra pay when I wake up at 6 am to make sure the servers up and run the reports. I would trade jobs with you today.

    • angry

      Hey, I don’t know what you teach but as a elementary teacher, I am at work long after the students leave. I work at least one day of the weekend. My planning is a joke because it is full of meetings and I have to sign in and out each day so they can make sure i put my full time in. We are treated like technicians without any say in what we teach. Each teacher must be teaching the same lesson on the same day–no matter if your class has grasped the concept or not.
      this comes from letting business people with NO idea what goes on in a classroom decide what, when, and how we teach. Students are not interchangeable parts.

    • LagunaLady27

      When I taught (retired three years ago), I was at work by 6:30 and left for home at 4:00 most days. Lunch was thirty minutes (thank God for OSHA regulations), with no other breaks. I then worked another three hours at home daily, unless I had to go back to school to supervise some event (unpaid). Then, there were the multiple hours of grading papers or creating lessons over the weekends, or unpaid holidays (all holidays and “vacations” are unpaid for teachers in California). There is no way to compare office work to teaching without teachers coming up short.

      • John Tuttle

        You get more time off in 1 year than I have had in 20 years. I have been to my kids schools on the weekends for soccer and baseball and there are never any teachers there.

        • LagunaLady27

          You are paid for your vacation days, right? No teacher is. By the way, every public school I ever worked at (in California) had several teachers supervising each extra-curricular event (even those off campus) without pay. Where I worked last, we had to do twenty hours of unpaid supervision each school year.

          • John Tuttle

            No for 15 years I was a contractor and didn’t get paid days off. I worked every holiday and when they kicked us out for Christmas I lost a week’s pay. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2014/08/07/low-teacher-pay-and-high-teacher-pay-are-both-myths/
            You took the job knowing you would have 4 months off of work and are compensated by your salary. The issue is the teachers complain about their low salary but when you divide the amount of days you work into your wage you see how much you make an hour. In CA the wages are now public and they are huge for an 8 month salary.

        • Frustrated

          That’s because we have to stay home grading papers and writing lesson plans. No time to enjoy a game or even catch a breath of fresh air. Lucky for you!

  • krs84

    2nd generation, 32 year high school mathematics teacher here. My own children, 6th and 8th grade, know my strong feelings on this subject – – I will not support their education if they decide to pursue public education as a profession – – there is NO future in it – – they are setting themselves up for a life of hardship AND NOW hundreds of thousands of young people entering the college/workforce age group are figuring this out as well. I’m in Indiana, the original battleground of the teacher vilification movement — the things I’ve seen just make me ill, and at age 54 wish that I could have lived last 30+ years of my professional life having done something that had been more worthwhile. I pray for as many young professionals as possible not to repeat the mistake that I made. FYI – – my wife, a career deaf educator, couldn’t agree more.

    • Zazu22

      I feel your pain. I’m sure you have influenced some lives in a very important way. Hang onto that. It is important even if it’s not rewarded.

    • Don Lowery

      I’m a para in a Colorado Springs district where the turnover is over 80% with just a handful of union members in the whole district…due to the district telling teachers there is no union or having them sign a form that they will not join the union.
      Having started in this district last month…I had a bad feeling going in when most of the teachers this district hires are the ones who get into that federal program for new teachers. Couple that with a couple of former teachers I just found out who worked in this district that I go to church with. One got pregnant to get out of her contract and the other suffered panic attacks and quit after a week after dealing with the former superintendent who destroyed the union.
      Myself…I’m putting SPED students into CPI holds at least once a day…if not more. Today…I almost walked out and to never go back. With the SPED teacher I work with gone tomorrow…I’m not sure how I’m going to get through the day. I barely sleep at night…my stomach is always upset and I’m always angry with myself and others. Having done this for several years at other districts…have never felt this way before. Love my job…but being physically and verbally assaulted by students and an administration who doesn’t care…I’m betting unemployment will be better than what I’m dealing with at this moment.

      • LagunaLady27

        See an attorney. There are still a few laws that might help you receive the disability you need to pay your bills while looking for another job, but be careful, because some districts will not hire you if you stand on your own two feet and demand what is your legal right.

        • Don Lowery

          Just found out that I have one interview at one of the great districts tomorrow morning and another which has a union contract. Either way…after today…just knowing two of the districts are interested made this afternoon great.
          If these don’t work out and I have a week with doing CPI holds everyday on the same students…there’s always Manpower or some other temp firm until the districts start hiring for next year. No matter what happens…it looks like I have an exit out of this district.

          • LagunaLady27

            Congrats, and I wish you very good luck. It will be their loss.

    • DISCOURAGED

      I loved
      teaching,… still do- enjoyed working with ELL students
      K-12, As a teacher, I voluntarily spent more than $2,000.00 out-of-pocket annually buy resources that I need and did
      not receive to enhance teaching and
      learning. Administrations and co-workers treated me as
      if “I walk on water” because my students had continuing improvements in class
      and on standardized tests. Then, I fell on school property and injured
      myself. Repeated surgeries, chronic pain, emotional upheaval, long medical
      leave (without pay) forced me to give up my job. My worst experience was not when my request for disability retirement was rejected and relabeled “ Ordinary
      Disability”, nor is it my constant unsuccessful pleading with workers’
      compensation to pay for medications … The WORST…VERY WORST experience from this in-school accident was that I did
      not receive a single card, a single call, an email, or a stem of flower from my school
      administrations or co-workers during this difficult time that eventually forced
      me to resign from my teaching position.
      YOU REALLY HAVE TO LOVE CHILDREN; YOU REALLY NEED TO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF
      YOUNG PEOPLE TO WANT TO BE A TEACHER. Based on the callousness of my employers and
      co-workers, it would be difficult for me to encourage anyone to become a
      teacher. Teaching on its own is difficult, but adding employers’
      insensitivity can break the strongest and most effective teacher.

  • drume

    Gayle, I can’t see that you contradict anything I said. You wrote, “my union is the only reason that I get paid as well”, supporting my claim that teachers want unions to prioritize negotiated pay schedules. You said tenure rules require “reasonable cause to fire a teacher”, bolstering my claim that teachers want unions to prioritize job stability.

    Please understand that I think teachers are horribly undervalued, over-controlled, and underpaid. They should be paid a lot more. Period. That is why I find the typical parental priorities embarrassing (i.e. lower taxes and free babysitting). Individual teachers may or may not “deserve” higher pay, but that’s irrelevant to me. What is relevant is the quality of my five children’s education. I have no doubt that if we respected and invested more in teachers, the quality of education would go up. We have to put our money where our mouth is. As it is, I am ashamed that my state is one of the lowest in state per-pupil spending.

    Any helpful discussion of treating teachers like professionals requires looking outside of the oversimplified mindset of the NEA and Chris Christie. I am not interested in the blind ideologies driving those agendas. I am interested in treating teachers like professionals, and that means ACTUAL professionals who should not be condescendingly coddled. They should get greater pay, resources, autonomy, and respect.

    Many years ago, I remember interviewing the president of the local school district for a college research paper. She told me that the district could eliminate the math curricullum and they would only get a few irate parents at the next meeting. But if they change a single school bus route, they pack the room with angry parents. The message? Education isn’t important to parents, but don’t mess with their schedule.

    Today, in parent-teacher conferences, I have to regularly tell teachers to stop telling me how great our kid is. Tell us where my child needs help, and tell us where we can be most helpful to the child and the teacher. Why do teachers sugar-coat these conferences? I don’t blame teachers, because that’s what parents have trained them to do. Parents don’t want to be told that they and their child need to do better. But that’s what parents should want to hear if they cared more about their child’s education than their family’s egos.

    • Gayle Franks

      I’m sorry I must have misread what you wrote. I agree that parent priorities seem to be hopelessly skewed. In order to pass levies in my area the districts have to threaten to take away sports. There is something definitely wrong with that. We also have parents who let their students miss 30 days of school and than blame the school for failing their students. I just don’t understand this mentality.

    • LagunaLady27

      When teachers speak the truth at conferences, many parents and ALL administration freak out. I always spoke the truth, and it scared the poo out of admin. Most parents appreciated my honesty. Since I was protected by my union and the law, I felt safe to give it.

  • drume

    Mary, I think you have misunderstood my positions. Please read my previous posts. Chris Christie is an idiot who does not put value on teaching. But in my opinion, the NEA does not put value on education. Teachers should be paid much, much more. My father was a highly educated teacher, as was my uncle who lived with us for a time. I had many close relatives who were teachers, and our family put a high value on education. But we were also poor, so I grew up knowing all too well the under-appreciation and unprofessional treatment of teachers, even a teacher like my father with a PhD and two Masters degrees.

    To answer your question, we should pick star teachers the way professionals are all best picked: objectively, comparatively, and based on measurable performance. That does not mean only tests. It also means intangibles such as how well the teachers instills a love a learning in students, or how well they teach children independence and critical thinking. Do people always make good decisions in this regard? Of course not, neither in public nor private life. If you want a good example, just look at one of my favorite satirical jabs at our sad under-prioritization of teaching. TeachingCenter! 🙂

    • John Tuttle

      Depends on what state you are in. Here in Los Angeles the teachers make a decent wage. They just don’t want anyone to see how much they make but it is now public record. They also get a lot of time off.

    • Lisa Pontius

      The problem with a system set up the way you envision is this: “Who will do the picking, the evaluating?” and also, when you say measurable performance and then intangibles in the next sentence, you are negating your own thesis–the definition of intangibles is that they cannot be measured. Which takes me back to my question, whom do you propose for deciding which teachers are stars? It’s not that I don’t think great teachers should be paid more, it’s that I can’t think of any possible way to decide this. School boards??? Hardly–even when filled with well-meaning lay people with no axe to grind, they are certainly not educational experts. Administrators??? Perhaps, except when they are poorly trained and/or suited for their job. All teachers, regardless of excellence, need to be paid an excellent wage–each and every one of them are doing a job that is thankless at best and one that most Americans admit they would NEVER do. This is where collective bargaining comes in–without unions, no state would pay teachers enough to live on. While certainly a flawed method of compensation (as many mediocre teachers are paid as well as great ones), it is still the only way to ensure that people will continue to enter and stay in the profession. And I would posit that every single person out there still learned something from even their worst teachers during their public school years, and even the most mundane teacher is still better than sitting students in front of a computer–the human organism learns through human contact and interaction, otherwise, babies would have no need for voices, touch, and repetition–we could just put them in front of a TV from birth. Finally, we have to stop looking the corporate model as a template for education–nowhere in the business world are we expected to take ALL materials and turn them into superior, functioning product. Our great noble experiment of free public education for all is still that–the noblest in the world, and the toughest to maintain.

    • Mamasama

      Question: if only “great” teachers are paid well enough to live on the salary (I, too, had friends who were great teachers who had to go on food stamps to feed their 3 kids.), how do you motivate teachers to go into districts that have a horrible reputation for not meeting the lowest of standards? How do you recruit new teachers (start them at a “great” salary for the potential they showed in their student teaching?)? As Ms. Pontius states, who gets to play judge for the teachers? If a teacher is working himself into an early grave trying his very best to help his students, but has no support from the parents, the district, or the student, is it fair to the teacher to judge him as poorly executing his job? OH, and do we compare all students’ performance to the same set of standards to determine the teacher’s success, or do we take into consideration things like special needs, language deficiencies, home life, and poverty? Finally, does the teacher get judged only on his ability to teach the subject material, or on his ability to also identify students who are abused, using drugs, victims of cyberbullying, malnourished, or psychologically scarred?

    • John Tuttle

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2014/08/07/low-teacher-pay-and-high-teacher-pay-are-both-myths/

      Our schools are failing miserably. In my profession everyone is being replaced by people from India and China. If you ask them about their education and compare it to ours you realize we are doomed. You can’t expect a teacher to handle a class that is a mixture of levels. We always had to slow everything down for the slow kids.

  • Sharon Ratzburg

    I am tired of being a polictial pinata. Legislatures need to think about what their actions are doing to society. We are rapidly going backwards.

  • Ken Anderson

    Another reason teachers are leaving because parents are not being parents there kids won’t try, disrupts class and when they try and stop the behavior the parents are there yelling and screaming that there kid didn’t do it. They feel there child can do whatever they want whenever they want and the teacher has no right to correct them. Then yell and scream when there kid comes out dumber than a door nail, they show up to make sure there kid look good for class pictures and has there whole family there to scream as they leave 5th grade but won’t bother to come to the parent teacher conference

    • John Tuttle

      I agree this is one of the biggest problems and has been for LAUSD. The other problem is everyone else in the class is affected by little Johnny who is only a Lad and disrupts everything bringing down the rest of the class. In China the kid is kicked out and moved to the lower class and his family is embarrassed. We need to put the teachers in charge and hold them accountable but give them the power to kick Johnny out of their class until Johnny is in the lowest class and just housed until incarceration. The best teachers move up to the better classes with the better kids.
      In my kids classes the worst ones are the spoiled rich kids whose daddy is someone they think is a higher up. They eventually lose their permit and get house in LAUSD.

  • TeachingPro

    Quote:”Teachers are micromanaged. They have been saying for a long time that one size doesn’t fit all, all students are different. But they’re told to stick to the scripted curriculum, which might work for a weaker teacher but it drives good teachers nuts. And for beginning teachers, the lack of support is a key issue.

    The poorer schools and the urban schools have higher levels of turnover overall because they tend to – not aways – have worse working conditions. They’re usually the most centralized and the most micromanaged in this era of accountability.”

    I have several friends who work in districts in the Houston area and you should hear the comments they make from having all their classes exceed 30 or more students, being to told to compile and review tons of student data, comply with the “everyone teach the same way”, sometimes regular, ESL and Special Ed. students all in the same classes etc., etc.. It’s enough to make me want to leave the room screaming. When many teachers leave to teach elsewhere in the area, they take pay cuts because districts don’t want to pay experienced teaachers what they are worth, but give new teachers pretty decent salarries.Teachers are now tasked with not teaching kids, but dealing with other issue in schools many of use older folks (lol) didn’t have to deal with growing up. At one school, they’ve had nearly 20% staff turnover three years in a row, how does that help students? Teachers seem to get screwed over for doing their jobs and most of the blame when students dont perform on state tests.

  • Ceunei

    I’m done with the unprofessional teachers and principal and administrators in my Republican voting rural area. They can take their toxic school environment and shove it. They want to support their bullies and punish me for trying to stop the verbal abuse my child endured? Well then.

    Homeschool for us.

  • patientman

    When did people stop looking at the bigger picture? I have read a number of the comments and most people dance around the truth, play with it, or flat out miss the big point. Teachers are supposed to be the leaders of students, parents, administrators, and political nerds should look to these people as more than technicians. These children are not some kind of piece of electronic gear, to be filled with data, or repaired when broken.

    The broader political and commercial world want to stuff teachers into a monetized box, just like all the other “jobs” in the world. And, the moment they start using the word “professional”, watch out. They are playing to your behavior strings with a very subtle annoyance, to get conformance. Teachers are far better than a professional. These categorizing movements will continue until teachers rise up to lead others, as they do in a classroom. This whole society has been lulled to sleep, and the nightmare needs to stop.

    Wake up!

  • brookereviews

    How about the world of education recognizing higher education! In my district, they don’t give higher pay to those who work (and pay) to obtain a Masters in education! What incentive do teachers have to get a masters, if their educational institution won’t even recognize their achievement?

  • Tony

    Basically, one of the things you are saying is that you want teachers to compete for money and position…that’s when collaboration will stop and teachers will quit assisting each other because you don’t help the competition or “enemy.” Sounds good on paper, but I doubt it would really work in the real world.

    • Mamasama

      I shudder to think what would happen if collaboration ceased!

  • Dale

    Dale
    Teachers are Journeyman in the union. If they want Professional Status they need to non-union and maintain status in a Professional Guild,or Society much like Engineers or Architects. Teachers deserve professional status but the Union
    Status forbids such. Would the teacher prefer high status among his peers in a Society demanding top salary from a Board of Education because of a Professional Status, or that of tenure without status?

    • Leslie Starr

      A Professional Guild or Society is nothing more than a fancy name for a Union

  • Lisa Burke

    I have been teaching for 21 years and it is a totally different world. More and more “jobs” are put on our shoulders, These are so many items that cannot be taken care of during a school day. Computerized input of report cards, planning new curriculum to bring it up to the Common Core Standards! We are being asked to re-write curriculum. This happens on our time. We are asked to administer tests to a small group of students within our school day while the other students work productively doing what? There are more and more items we are asked to do, and the compensation in pay is negligible. People who are not teachers are constantly saying how lucky we are to have summers off. We spend our summers writing text dependent questions, and building up the curriculum that we have that is not Common Core. It is no wonder that there are teachers leaving before they have taught 5 years. The ones who stay love the kids, and understand that our retirement is dependent on STRS…we love the kids…but it is hard. We go home drained and understanding that at least one of our weekend days will be used for grading, lesson planning or inputting on the computer.

    • tracy

      I could not have said it better myself. Morale is at an all time low, I’m making LESS money than I did 10 years ago, and my classroom is packed like a sardine tin! I miss the days when I couldn’t WAIT to get back into the classroom after summer. I don’t care how dedicated teachers are, that BS would defeat anyone.

    • Discouraged!

      loved

      teaching,… still do- and have enjoyed working with ELL students
      K-12, As a teacher, I voluntarily spent more than $2,000.00 out-of-pocket annually buy resources that I need but did not receive to enhance teaching and learning. Administrations and co-workers treated me as
      if “I walk on water” because my students had continuing improvements in class and on standardized tests. THEN, I fell on school property and injured
      myself. Repeated surgeries, chronic pain, emotional upheaval, long medical
      leave (without pay) forced me to give up my job. My worst experience was not when my request for disability retirement was rejected and relabeled “ Ordinary Disability”, nor is it my constant unsuccessful pleading with workers’ compensation to pay for medications …

      The WORST…VERY WORST experience from this in-school accident was that I did not receive a single card, a single call, an email, or a stem of flower from my school administrations or co-workers during this difficult time that eventually forced me to resign from my teaching position.

      YOU REALLY HAVE TO LOVE CHILDREN; YOU REALLY NEED TO WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN THE LIVES OF YOUNG PEOPLE TO WANT TO BE A TEACHER. Based on the callousness of my employers and
      co-workers, it would be difficult for me to encourage anyone to become a
      teacher. Teaching on its own is difficult, but adding employers’
      insensitivity can break the strongest and most effective teacher.

  • Amy

    I have been a teacher for 20+ years. I have taught in three different states in which each had its own “teacher requirements.” Lawyers and doctors can go from state to state and not have to pay to receive state certification. I have taught in schools with scripted curriculum which in my opinion, does not into account each student’s academic level, learning style, interests, or personality. I have had people tell me that being a teacher is “just babysitting” and “someone has to do it.” Teachers spend more time with the youth of America than anyone else in their lives, and over the years, teachers have gone from an esteemed professional to disrespected teacher. Dedicated teachers influence the youth of America to inspire them to become critical thinking, capable, and successful citizens in an ever-changing global society who love learning and work hard to achieve. I can not even count the times that I have heard, “Oh! You are just a teacher!” I love teaching, and I love education. How do we change America’s perception of teachers. Well, the first step is to trust that teachers know their students and give teachers a voice in their classrooms. By giving teachers a voice, we are respecting them as professionals who know how to execute their jobs using state curriculum standards. Second, make country wide teacher certification that is reasonable so teachers are not penalized with high fees for moving across state lines. Third, ask for teacher input in curriculum decisions. Fourth, I believe that master teachers have a love of life-long learning; I do not think that teachers should be required to pay high fees to maintain short-term certification. Yes, all professions should stay current with classes, seminars, and workshops, but like other professions, teachers should be able to choose the pace and direction of continued education. Finally, school districts need to put into place a system where teachers are supported with programs to enrich instruction time, not add yet another task for the teacher to complete. For example, teaching to the test is a dangerous and ineffective method to assess student achievement. In my experience, teachers who taught to the standards according to student learning styles, academic level, and needs proved that excellence in teaching increases student achievement.

    • Leslie Starr

      If i’m not mistaken, you have to take the bar (Lawyer’s exam) in each state they work in

      • tracy

        That may be true. I do not know for certain, but I believe their is a multistate exam for lawyers. Also, do they have to pay for it? Do they have to take graduate classes and renew it every 5 years? Teachers do! I wonder how salaries compare, hmmmm? Besides, I imagine you get the point; any number of professions could be inserted in that spot.
        P.S. “i’m” is I’m and don’t forget to punctuate your sentences.
        LOVE,
        A Teacher.

        • tracy

          OOPS! Correction…my “Their” should’ve been there! Just spotted it upon posting. Shame on me. 🙂

        • LagunaLady27

          When I started teaching in California in 1971, lawyers and those in similarly educated professions made salaries just above those of teachers. Now, teachers with the same education and level of responsibility make less than 25% of what the others make, although their workload has increased significantly. Most new teachers, even if married to other teachers, will never be able to afford to buy a house or send their own kids to college.

    • landrews

      Well said. I have been teaching for 10 years. I left the corporate job over 20 years ago to have my kids. Now, after adding two years of college to my resume, and 3 years of beginning teacher training ….I make less NOW than as a corporate manager 20 years ago (yes that includes 10 years of teaching on the pay scale). I used to love teaching, but our district keeps adding more and more to our work load for no compensation. Our district is one of the highest rated in CA but it is on the teacher’s sweat and tears; we are writing our own curriculum to meet the common core. We do not even have new books…. really? Now I am counting 8 more years to retirement. I used to love teaching but now I am getting burnt out by all the increasing demands on us. I still do my very best for the kids and always will, but it’s with lots of frustration. BTW my daughter wanted to become a teacher but now that she has seen the hours I put in; she said it is not worth the pay for all the long hours. Things need to change in so many ways.

  • stevenanthonyhill

    Please do not minimize the importance of teacher pay. It is the number one way to show respect and dignity. The Latin word “DIGNATUS” means worth, or value. From this word, we derive DIGNITY. Whenever anyone dismisses or downplays teacher pay, I generally stop reading.

    • Zazu22

      Agree. And no lawyer, judge, doctor, or educational administrator would be asked to be “altruistic” and perform their jobs for love rather than money. It’s ridiculous. You get what you pay for.

  • Leslie Starr

    I have a better idea, since they treat us like baby sitters pay us like baby sitters!

    • LagunaLady27

      That would be a pay raise. The monsters in charge would be miffed.

      • Alvin B.

        Babysitters usually have a maximum of students they can care for, defined by law. Most laws restricting classroom size have been repealed.

        • LagunaLady27

          I once had forty-six high school students in one class session (in a normal sized classroom). Forty-three of them were trying to learn French 2, the other three were taking French 4. The kids cooperated since they wanted to be there (for the most part), but none of them received the attention they needed to do well. Ticked me off completely, but the admin did not care that learning would suffer.

          • Alvin B.

            @Lagu@LagunaLady27:disqus : In my first school (which I left quickly) I was given a Beginner ESL class with 37 students and no aide. When I complained that Beginner ESL is not supposed to be that large, they agreed and reshuffled classes to put Beginner ESL with the Freshman teacher. Who THEN had a Beginner ESL class with 47 students! She resigned within weeks.

            At my current school, the French teacher across the hall has the same problem as you. She has French 3 and 4 split in one class – she has to teach both at the same time, somehow. The number of teachers with multiple different course codes scheduled into the same hour has exploded in our district. Counselors don’t seem to give a flip about it, they figure you can somehow manage it.

          • LagunaLady27

            This should be illegal. The fire departments nationwide should check class size. I had a class of over 37 in a room designed for 23. In an emergency, no one would get out in time, since there was only one door, it was partially blocked by student desks.

  • Liz Martinetti-Harrington

    I am a second career teacher and I have had a full time position for the past 10 years. I love the students and they are certainly the highlight of my day and my career. However, I cannot wait to retire. As aside my feet are ruined from standing on concrete floors all day. My classes get larger and larger and I feel less and less supported. I’m teaching materials I don’t like or believe in. I don’t feel listened to when I try to explain my serious concerns. As a country we need to seriously look at not only how we treat teachers but our whole education system. The system works for around 80% of the population but we are doing a grave disservice to the other 20%.

    • LagunaLady27

      You have your numbers reversed. The educational system serves 20% and not 80%.

    • Frustrated

      Frustrated to the bones
      Hello Liz,
      I completely agree with you. Teaching has become a serious health hazard. My feet have rough spots from standing all day. My zeal for teaching is shrinking due to the scores of unnecessary tests and assessments on top of evaluations by some supervisors who do not understand anything about the abuse we face each day from students and parents. It is not worth all the student loans, years of studying, free over time etc. I am looking forward to getting out of teaching ASAP. I think the system works for less than 20% of the population. It is a case of who knows who and friends putting friends in high positions where they are not suited.
      Hang in there. Keep a journal to remember why you decide to retire. When you finally retire enjoy your time and don’t be tempted to return to sub. It is not worth it!
      Good luck.

  • Alicia Jacobson

    There is a huge STATE funding issue as well with leads to lack of respect for the teaching profession. Here in Hawaii, many of our classrooms are reaching temperatures of over 90 degrees and our buildings are falling apart. These conditions tell students and teachers that we are not a priority. I see a huge turnover and it negatively affects students. My husband tells me that I do not need to work full time, but teaching is my passion and creating those lasting relationships with students is very important to me. I just do not know how long I can deal with the adverse physical conditions.

  • Alicia Jacobson

    I agree. My union is the only reason I have lasted this long.

  • John Tuttle
  • John Tuttle

    The pink slips they give out were demanded by the Union if there is going to be layoffs so they give them out to everyone.

  • John Tuttle

    As a member of AFT the problem comes down to respect. Parents and expectations have changed. Parents blame the teachers for anything lower than a B. The bad teachers just give out As and don’t care anymore. The good teachers with standards get yelled out because johnny is only a Lad and just misunderstood. Compare what happens at our schools to China or India and then you will understand that our children’s future will not be good.

  • kathy

    cannot speak for other states, but lots of schools in indiana, brown county, greenwood and monroe county to name a few, limit starting salries for experienced teachers to only so many years expereience no matter how long they may have taught. for example, a teacher who has taught for fifteeen years may be paid for only five years of experience. there are other examples of teachers not being paid for their years of experience. i understand why the school corporations do this but teachers should be paid according to their years of experience. ths is another category but is discouraging to anyone wanting to enter the field, i would think!

  • Zazu22

    As a college professor, my heart bleeds for those who teach K-12. I cannot recount the horror stories of what they have endured for little pay, while holding graduate degrees. The most recent is a friend who quit corporate America because of an altruistic urge to teach children. He survived three weeks of being sworn at, harassed, and unsupported by administration. He has now happily gone back to his corporate office. It is THE most thankless profession in the world.

  • Linda Johnson

    Now that women have many career options, I hope those who decide to become teachers demand professional treatment. By that I mean they should have a significant part in running their own schools. A teacher should be to a school what a doctor is to a clinic, a lawyer is to a firm, or a professor is to his department. Teachers, don’t accept less. The days of treating mainly female teachers as high school girls should be over.

  • Zazu22

    If you get rid of unions and tenure, you will have yearly turn over with minimum wage pay. The educational system will fall apart entirely.

    • drume

      Zazu22, most school teachers in America aren’t in unions. The sky wouldn’t fall. Teachers are valuable, highly-educated professionals. We should stop treating them like unskilled, blue-collar workers who can’t stand on their own merits. Non-union hiring and firing practices would make it very clear what kind of compensation is required to get good teachers in our schools.

      Non-union school districts would finally force parents and taxpayers to confront the reality of what it takes to really value education. Of course, it wouldn’t improve education overnight. I think the positive effects would only be seen in a couple of decades when people in the top of their class who actually want to be teachers start entering the workforce. Right now, very few top-performing kids really want a career in teaching, and that’s going to hurt education for quite a while.

      • Zazu22

        I am a college professor and a member of a union. I cannot begin to imagine what would happen on our campus if there were no union to protect us from an administration that clearly has no regard for those of us doing the real work.

        Even with unions, the K-12 administration constantly rewrites the requirements for tenure so that they can get rid of teachers, never have to offer tenure, and hire a new crop and much lower wages. I have never met an administrator who cared about good teaching; they care about money and numbers and ensuring they keep their own six-figure salaries. Wake up and smell the coffee!

        • LagunaLady27

          When one of our governors in California stole $2billion from the budget of public education, the district where I had recently been hired gave me (and several hundred other teachers) a pink slip, but kept those with fewer qualifications or experience. The principal told me that I was a far better teacher, but she didn’t have to pay the others as much. Perfect.

          • John Tuttle

            The pink slips that you got where due to your union demands to the school. This happens at every other business once you salary gets too high they replace you with someone cheaper. Teachers complain all the time but they have more time off in one year than I have had in 20 combined.

          • LagunaLady27

            You misunderstood completely. Teachers complain because their working conditions and salaries are not up to par. People like you do not understand that most teachers are excellent, hardworking, qualified professionals who love helping and teaching your kids. Teachers would love to have paid vacations or even just paid legal holidays. Alas, that will never happen.

          • John Tuttle

            Not up to par? http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2014/08/07/low-teacher-pay-and-high-teacher-pay-are-both-myths/ you make more than most for only working 8 months out of the year. Plus 4 weeks off during the school year. One year I worked every day except New Years, Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. I live in Los Angeles and our educational system is horrific.

          • LagunaLady27

            Eight months? Sorry. School starts in August and ends in June. Like with most professions and businesses, some schools and teachers are great and some stink. I have only experienced a few teachers that were not up to par in 40+ years of teaching. Yes, LAUSD is horrific (I worked in that district for two years). You can thank the politicos in admin. They don’t even follow their own rules.

          • John Tuttle

            Don’t forget the week for thanksgiving, 3 weeks for winter break and a week for spring. That is a whole month of time off so I stand corrected 9 months of work. Plus all the extra holidays like columbus, veterans day (I am a veteran I never got that day off). That’s another week off.
            The problem with admin is they are bloated too. They say they are needed because of the teachers union. Its a never ending cycle of waste. I also agree with you it is a small percentage of horrible teachers but the damage they do is huge. The teachers union needs to kick them out of the union. I am a member of AFT. Only the teachers union will be able to save the kids.

          • LagunaLady27

            All of these “days off” are without pay. Many of them are filled with doing school related paperwork. During my career, the only time I was able to accomplish anything at home, or take real time off, was one week during Christmas Break and about four weeks of summer. I appreciated the time, but would have liked to be paid for legal holidays and at least two weeks of vacation, like most professionals.

          • John Tuttle

            You get paid a salary based on the days off. You also get a pension which private sector doesn’t get. the reason people like me get mad is claim like this. The average teacher make 56,000 a year. And yes you need to grade your papers but realize most jobs we have work to take home. We can now see what teachers make it is public record in California and our state will be bankrupt soon because of the pensions and the money we pay for education. You may be a great teacher but your union protects the bad ones. That is my main issue. Get rid of the bad teachers and realize that compared to India and China our kids are falling behind. The teachers keep complaining they need more money but half the budget goes to education and its only getting worse.

          • LagunaLady27

            Teachers salaries in California have always been public record. 10% of teachers’ salaries and 10% of any extra money for coaching, teaching summer school, etc. goes into the pension fund. Districts put in another 8%. This is not bankrupting the system or the state.

            Putting so much into the prison system in California is the problem.Most money in education goes to admin, and not the teachers or classrooms. If admin followed the rules, they would get rid of the few bad teachers that exist. But they don’t. They are too busy trying to suppress anything that would make them look bad and playing political games.

            Our kids started falling behind when politicians and lawyers got their hooks into public education. When they started telling teachers what and how to teach, it all went downhill. When I started teaching in 1971, my high school classes averaged about 25 kids in each. There were clerks to do the office work and custodians to clean the rooms.I had the supplies I needed. When I retired in 2012, my classes averaged 38. I had to do the office work and clean the room. I also paid for supplies for the classroom out of my salary.

        • John Tuttle

          And why do you think the Administrators are like that because of the union. School tuition is skyrocketing and what our kid are learning compared to India and China pales in comparison. Where I went to school we had many teachers who just showed up to get a paycheck. How do you get rid of the bad teachers?

          • PJ

            Administrators need to do their jobs to get rid of bad teachers. Tenure doesn’t mean someone cannot be fired; it means that there are steps that need to be taken to fire the teacher. Those in charge don’t often want to make waves because they fear for their own jobs and want to protect their six figure incomes. That’s where the dysfunction starts. The other issue is parental involvement. I know a lot of good teachers, most of whom leave when they can find better employment. Our education is a mess and needs to be completely revamped, starting with the rules of how to deal with behavior issues in the classroom.

          • John Tuttle

            You are right about behavioral issues. The problem is the kids who slow everything down and the parents who demand that johnny be with the regular class because he is only a lad. But Timmy is bored our of his mind because the class is too slow.
            When do we put the kids first instead of the teachers? The administrators will do nothing to fix it because the teachers union will go after them if they complain. We spend our days blaming each other while the kids in India and China are learning to take our kids jobs. Only the middle class and higher kids in India and China get the good education and if you don’t keep up you are out of the good school. You can say that is terrible but this is what our kids will compete with.
            All the IT jobs are being outsourced to Indian and Chinese because the millennials and I can’t compete with them because our education was not good enough. The only ones who can fix this is the teachers union.

      • LagunaLady27

        There is a nationwide shortage of teachers of over 200,000 at present. When unions were stronger, this shortage did not exist. Baby Boomers are now retiring. Good luck finding qualified replacements with how teachers are treated and paid now.

  • Cy

    I am in the state of Kansas, where funding is being cut and lots of stuff is causing a teacher shortage. Want to know the number one thing you could do for kids and teachers that would help with learning and being at grade level? Make it a law to have a lower student to teacher ratio. I firmly believe that is the biggest obstacle in our country, and especially our state where mental health funding has also diminished. We are given more and more standards to meet but we are given more and more kids with special needs, who are at risk, or generally do not have the skills they should have in kindergarten on up. But then you pack our classrooms so full we can barely walk and tell us to individualize and make sure we meet everyone’s needs. Nope. You know where the attention goes? To the kids hitting other kids or disrupting class. Teachers feel stressed and broken because they want more for their students, and they are doing their best. Lower class size so that teachers can give kids individual attention and you will see improvement. And then provide the funds for the classrooms and the teachers to meet that law. Seriously. That is where the change needs to happen. More than curriculum. More than assessments. Class size.

  • Samuel Broyles

    As a business professor at a major U.S. university, although many others are afraid to speak up, well, I am 62 and don’t have 10 more years to work. Thus, I am willing to speak up on behalf of myself and others. We all believe in providing the best education possible to our students, and we all want them to be successful and prepared for life after college. But, our administration’s focus on helping, and even showing any care about faculty has become very poor. And, it is amazing how many other professors increasingly complain about how they are treated. We are increasingly told to do more and more, but are essentially given nothing in return. Over the last 9 years my average annual raise has been less than 1%. After taxes, my raise this year resulted in my monthly take home pay increasing by $23. No, it is not all about money, but university professors also need to be treated fairly, this is not strictly an elementary or secondary school issue. What amazes me the most is how much administration talks publicly about us having and getting the best of the best. Why this amazes me is because I am now beginning to see the start of faculty either leave or starting to search for opportunities elsewhere. Also, I have seen a lot of top quality candidates reject our offers. The bottom line is this: If teachers are unhappy, it is unrealistic to expect the best teaching, which is not fair to students. Samuel Allen Broyles, California

  • Too Much Experience

    I’m an educator with over 15 years of experience. I have found that school corporations will not even interview a teacher with that much experience, as the new teachers are more “cost effective” to the budget.

    • Pontifikate

      School corporations? Try public schools!

  • J Catherine Herbert-Halford

    Well…I’ve been saying this for years! As someone with 16+ years experience, a M.Ed. in Ed. Leadership, and a Ph.D. in Higher Ed. Leadership and guess what….I can’t find a teaching job,even though I am certified in 3 different states and 19 different certifications (including special education). I’ve been an administrator, taught a self contained autism class, taught multimedia, History, Economics, etc. I was “told” that the reason I can’t get hired is because they would have to pay me more and since there are so many students who recently graduated from college….I’m “excess”. I love teaching, I love education….I don’t love the politics and the lack of ethics/professionalism that I’ve encountered/endured. There is not enough respect for what we do, including the amount of experience and expertise someone with a wealth of knowledge can add to helping children learn. How can we expect people outside of education to treat us with respect if we don’t promote that within the system (especially not seeing the inherent value in hiring experience over $$$)! Time for me to begin my own business….though I am saddened that I will not be having fun in the classroom, helping students make that paradigm shift! What has happened to our country???

  • LagunaLady27

    I started teaching in 1971, when it was a wonderful profession. Slowly I witnessed a change, and not for the better. Lower pay (relatively speaking), more work, larger classes, fewer (if any) supplies, less autonomy, less respect, lots of harassment, fewer days of teaching and more days of irrelevant testing led to less job satisfaction. Thank God I was able to hang on until I could retire. If the politicians and lawyers would just let teachers teach, and school districts would hire good people (pay them an appropriate salary) and get out of the way, there would be no shortage.

  • LagunaLady27

    Hang in there until retirement, then bail.

  • J Catherine Herbert-Halford

    While I realize that unions have their own troubles and problems, as a former NY administrator who was “forced” to deal with them due to my predecessor’s use of careless evaluations (past practices-he gave everyone a “5” to get them done while I gave authentic evals), I supported the work they were doing for the teachers & para’s in the state. I think it’s interesting that most of the states that pay teachers a decent wage (though there is definitely room for improvement across the board) are union states. I applauded the teachers in Seattle who were brave enough to stand up for change (along with the teachers in Oregon who walked out on testing day). Is it disruptive…yes, but sometimes to get things changed for the better, you have to make some folks uncomfortable. Look what we did in the 60’s & 70’s….and we got things changed. We still have a long way to go….but for the profession that is the foundation for all others….all talk and no action, well…you know the rest!

  • Alvin B.

    Teachers in my district told the administration that given the choice of a pay raise, or hiring more teachers, just to hire more teachers. It’s not all about pay. With class sizes exploding after a massive layoff two summers ago, teachers who have been at our schools for their entire career are leaving. Yet the board decided to give a 3% pay raise and hire almost no new teachers. Meanwhile, insurance costs went up significantly more than 3%, so the pay raise was essentially worthless. Sadly, there are “experts” out there who claim that class size doesn’t matter. They claim a “good teacher” can teach 50 students as well as they can teach 15. Thus they simply stuff more and more kids into every class, mix sections so teachers have multiple preps to do, and wonder why the results aren’t there.

    • drume

      Alvin, amen! My father worked as an education policy analyst for the governor’s office in Utah. They found that class sizes of fewer than 17 students from Kindergarten through 3rd grade were dramatically associated with long-term educational success through high school and on into college. Class size didn’t make as much of a difference after 3rd grade, but it clearly showed the importance of small class sizes in those beginning grades.

  • Alvin B.

    Tying a bonus to student performance is a nice way to reduce the number of teachers serving special populations (SPED, ELL, etc) to nearly zero. Just like not all students are the same, nor are all classrooms.

  • Pontifikate

    Unions and school districts should have “exit interviews” for every teacher who either resigns or retires. So much can be learned, IF (and that’s a big “if”) these entities really want to learn why teachers leave and what teachers have learned about how their job might be made better (and thus a student’s experience be better).

    I worked in business as well as teaching and everyone who left in my industry was given an exit interview. But teachers — no one asks them. No one wants to know.

  • Cy

    To anyone who says teachers have “a lot of time off” has never personally known a teacher new to teaching or new to a district, and they don’t know they higher demands being placed on teachers across the board. As a teacher new to a district, I am easily working 80 hour weeks… and my “to do list” still isn’t getting done. On top of that, I have spent about a thousand dollars on what I need for my classroom. Teaching is extremely hard. It is hard on teachers and on their families. Some states, districts, and even buildings are harder than others, but in general it is extremely difficult. Many teachers also work on lessons and setting up their rooms during their “time off”. Sometimes in the heat of summer when air conditioning is not working so well. Teaching in our school systems with our expectations is HARD, and we certainly don’t get the respect or the compensation to reflect it. But, as I stated below, smaller class sizes can make a huge impact, especially at the younger grade levels.

  • Mamasama

    In many states, teachers are required to taking continuing education to keep their certification more often than in most other professional fields, i.e. engineering, yet they are paid less and their raises are determined by how their students perform on the “test of the year” not by what the teachers are actually attempting to teach in the classroom. No wonder few want to teach in special education — do you honestly feel that those who are so strongly impacted by a wide variety of learning disabilities will EVER reach a normal level of performance on the standardized tests that get changed yearly!? Our education system fails to look at reality in a multitude of ways. Teaching has a high “burn-out” rate because people with the education that teachers have invested in can get jobs elsewhere for a better paycheck and far more respect!

  • Mamasama

    I may have agreed with # 1, but a good teacher friend of mine was accused falsely of hitting a student. She was put on a 3-day mandatory leave. She was questioned. She was treated like a criminal! The union provided her with a counsellor to help her get through the process and legal actions (how this would effect her paycheck, her contract, her future, etc.) Within the first hour of the accusation, the accuser’s tale was discredited and proven false by several other students from her class. Why was she accused? She got a poorer test grade than she wanted. Was the student interrogated? No. Was the student punished in any way for her false accusation? No. Was the student in any way reprimanded for her action? No. Would this happen to another professional? Doubt it.

  • Kimberly Anne

    I have had colleagues and friends leave the profession, especially during the last two years. Not one of them left because of the pay scale. They left because they no longer had autonomy in the classroom, they often felt disrespected and unsupported by administration or evaluators. They also were so stressed out by the many additional demands regularly thrown their way, that it was causing health issues. Lower performing schools are now being run by administration that appear to be running on fear, and it’s trickling down.

    My friends and colleagues loved teaching, but not what is happening to the educational system. I myself am taking a year off, after spending the last two years feeling like I was living under a bell jar. I felt the same way as I did in high school, like someone was sucking the joy of learning, except I’m older and it was teaching. I’m hoping a fresh start, will help to heal the last two years because the other eight were some of the best years of my life.

  • Andrew Kent Jaussi

    I quit after 18 years. The administrators in my state have to have at least 5 years of teaching experience before getting their admin. cert. However, most principals and superintendents forget where they come from when they get to be administrators. I may be a conservative republican, but I am a staunch teacher’s union supporter. Without the unions, teachers would still be making $300/month and living in one room shack on the south side of the school building (those that understand weather and physics will know what I am talking about). Teachers should be paid more than principals.
    However, the main problem is that parents do not adequately supervise their kids. Parents: take control of your children. They do not run the house. Have some sauce in your blood (love the mom in Baltimore). Get tough!! Someone told me once that their 8th grade son came home one day just ranting and raving against his teacher. They went down to see the teacher and the teacher told them that their son was not doing his work, was being disruptive, would not take off his hat in class. The parents worked out a deal with the teacher on how to handle their son. To which all parties agreed. They then went home and told the son that you may not like the class, you make not like the teacher, you may not like the subject. To which the dad said to the son, “Tough. Your job is to go into that classroom and sit down and shut your mouth and do your work. If I ever hear of you disrupting that class again, I will ream you a new one.” He knew his dad was serious and when the son saw that he could not play the teacher against his parents and vice versa, he calmed down and did exactly what he was told from now on and graduated with a 3.85. Parents!!! Do your job. You are not your kid’s friends, you are the parents. It is the job of teenagers to push against their parents. However, it is the job of the parents to push back!! Have good day.

  • fair person

    In Illinois you can’t get a job if you have a graduate degree or years of experience. You are too expensive. I’ve been told that directly by school districts. You can’t negotiate a lower salary as unions won’t let that happen. What are experienced teachers with an MS to do? We’re subbing. Sad situation.

  • James Thurber

    I retired after seventeen years in the public school system and was treated very poorly the last four years. As the sole military veteran employee in my district (Los Altos, CA) there was no excuse for the behavior of our administration. What I could not understand was the Union.

    Our union controls the labor (or should). We went for nearly a decade without any raise then received a 1.75 percent raise. Divided by ten that makes for a paltry excuse for a cost of living adjustment. The Union was told that was all the district could afford. In Los Altos? One of the wealthiest communities in the United States? Nuts!

    The Union should stand by its members and be ready to strike – immediately if necessary – in order that their members receive both fair wages AND fair treatment. It’s not happening in most districts and in some states the unions have been dissolved.

    It’s time for the unionized members of our profession to stand tall and say enough is enough. Only then will teachers begin to receive the pay and respect they deserve.

  • Christie Olinger

    I recently went on a medical leave and will retire from the district next year – don’t ask… I have taught in the district for the past 10 years. I am not old enough to retire, but I am worn out and tired. The stress of being a special education teacher (EBD, SLD, DCD, multiple teaching licenses and also a Master’s Degree in Special Ed.) lead “some” to believe you can manage many children (different ages, grades, 3rd -12th) at one time. It does not mean you can take on more! The paper work involved and evaluation process is never taken into consideration when you are given 20 – 24 kids on your caseload, but it is required for every child that enters your room. The paper work I had was done at home in the evenings and every weekend. There was hardly a weekend that went by that I did not spend on writing an IEP or an evaluation, otherwise I got behind. The paper work has deadlines. That did not count the papers I looked at and corrected from the students in my room. If I had a substitute teacher – which was hard to get in a special education setting, I didn’t have a lesson plan for my classroom – I had a lesson plan for every student in my room. Rarely, were there more than one student in the same place, working on the same thing, unless it was a social skills group or a whole group (2-3 students) of math or reading. I loved those kids! I believe they loved me. I just could not do it anymore and I just could not do it anymore. It seemed I was constantly putting out fires in other places, creating behavior plans, monitoring behaviors, or making sure the student I had was getting his needs met within the general education setting. I had a great working relationship with my colleagues. We always were able to find something that worked for that student. The parents I believed, wanted what was best for their child. I never had any misunderstandings that we could not work through. That was not the problem… For many, and this comes from the trenches… so much is expected and so little is given back in return. There is not a bonus – no real pats on the back… It is more like, “Ok, we did pretty good this year, BUT…. let’s see how much higher we can raise the test scores next year…. AND, we know it is a negotiation year, but we really can’t give you much of a raise this year and your health insurance is going up.” Maybe it is this lack of respect for teachers as professionals, because I sure did not feel good about all the work I had done at the end of the day. I wanted to do a good job. I worked hard every day. Instead, I got burned out.

  • liberaltraitors

    Chris Christie is a fat, Big Brother-loving liberal idiot and a fraud.

  • LagunaLady27

    The union is the only entity protecting teachers from unreasonable and sometimes illegal actions of some school districts and administrators (like locking the bathrooms on campus for hours at a time). Without them, teachers would be fired for speaking up for the health and safety of the students (like unsafe conditions in classrooms that are falling apart). Tenure protects teachers from being fired when they speak the truth to power (like misplacing a senior into a Freshman English class because it is expedient). When they are not yet permanent (which is the real term and not tenured), teachers remain mute. This is not a good thing. As for your comments about pay, I agree with some of them, except that teachers want stability in their pay and benefits because otherwise there is none in the profession. Dealing with children requires a steady hand. You won’t have that, if teachers have to worry about being paid or not having health care.

    • drume

      None of these issues is unique to teaching. Professionals in the private sector have innumerable legal protections for the same kinds of situations. Non-union teachers — which is the majority of teachers — do not suffer any more significantly than union teachers in these ways.

      I keep hearing apocalyptic scenarios, but none of them has actually come to pass on any measurably large level for non-union teachers.

      • LagunaLady27

        I taught in California before unions were allowed and after they were formed. It made a huge difference. No one who taught without a union would ever agree to going back. Working conditions were much worse, when admin could violate the law without anyone being able to call them on it.

        • John Tuttle

          Yes the teachers win but the kids and taxpayers lose.

          • LagunaLady27

            Who do you think sticks up for the kids when administration wants to ignore their safety and/or educational needs? Teachers with union backing, that’s who. Without it, they would be fired if they spoke up. When the heating unit in my classroom was faulty, and the room became wet with humidity, the kids and I suffered. Even though I spoke up, they only fixed it when the union lawyer wrote a letter.

          • John Tuttle

            Any we have many teachers that just show up and one who leaves two months early and the kids just sit around. You think that teachers get it fixed and the parents won’t? Our state CA is being bankrupted by the CA teachers union. And I am a member of AFT.

    • John Tuttle

      That is not what Ten Year was for, and it used to be 10 years to get it. It has also created issue where drunks and abusers get paid millions. http://nypost.com/2014/07/13/four-city-teachers-rake-in-millions-while-banned-from-classrooms/
      Also in other jobs there are abuses and we get fired and then have to invoke the whistle blower laws to get compensation. Teaches know they cant be fired and our kids suffer.

      • LagunaLady27

        You are highly misinformed. Tenure took three years to reach in California when I started, 1971. It takes two presently, but there is zero protection for new teachers. Districts play a game now by sticking them (and their students, don’t forget) into unsafe rooms. Also,I have seen several bad teachers fired. I have also seen older teachers forced out, although they were going great jobs. Districts wanted to save money by getting rid of the more experienced and highly qualified faculty members. They were paid zero.

        • John Tuttle

          This is what happens at most jobs. Most of the jobs where I am at have replaced everyone with H-1 visa people and the rest are contractors with no rights or paid time off. What job gets protection other than teachers. We have teachers in our school that do very little. I will say it is only a small fraction but no one will get rid of them so if my kid gets one we are screwed. The union should kick these people out.

  • mlgcsg65

    I have been in public education as a classroom teacher and librarian long enough to remember when teaching was fun. The only time politicians and administrators use the term “professional” in referring to teachers is when they want to load something else on your plate. All for the good of the students, of course. So, after 43 years I am leaving the, if not oldest profession, at least at one time, the most honorable profession. I might have stayed a couple of years more, because I love working with the students and seeing the actual light snap on in their faces when they “get it,” but I am just too tired of the teacher persecution (ridiculous accountability measures) from legislators and administrators who couldn’t do my job for two weeks. A few years ago we had a district administrator come to our school to demonstrate for the dumb teachers in the language arts department the procedure du jour so we could pass evaluations. She was supposed to spend a week teaching a set of classes of seventh, eight, and ninth grade students while we observed. She lasted two days before she stopped coming. She sent memos after that. It is worse with legislators mandating teacher evaluation requirements. They know all about teaching and educational practices, because, after all, they were once students. I didn’t mean for my comments to become a rant, but I am tired of being evaluated by items over which I have no control. AND, I have talked with many younger teachers who are questioning whether the increasing persecution is worth the joy of working with students.

  • Janis S Wilson

    In California school districts are claiming a teacher shortage when they in fact will hire only interns and pre-interns. The teachers that apply for the jobs are not hired.

  • landrews

    I would be paid even less without the union. Teacher tenure is earned.. not given. I have a terrific reputation as a teacher, have tenure, and very respectable test scores (although I disapprove of that process). I am very hard working regardless of low pay for teachers. But I still believe strongly that getting rid of teacher unions is the worst thing for education. It is not the union that disrespects teachers – it is the administration, and many parents. Teacher bashing is common in the media lately, that does not come from unions. Check your history on teaching; prior to the existence of teachers unions conditions were much worse (sexual harassment, blatant favoritism, firing without cause was common, and the list goes on). Today I am not told by my union what to teach, but politicians and parents think they should tell ‘professional’ teachers what and how to teach.

    • John Tuttle

      Every other job has this problem. The problem now is compare our kids to those coming from India and China and we are so far behind. Yes you teachers are doing much better but many of us are being replaced by other because we went to US schools. When we see what they know and try to compete it is hard. I went back to school to get a masters and the Indians aced all the tests. We need to put the kids first, and only the union members can do this. You have too much power.

  • Carla

    I am also from Indiana, and you are so correct the vilification of teachers is one of the reasons people are taking early retirement. Those teachers who are at the top of the pay scale suddenly become “ineffective and need a growth plan ” The stories retired teachers tell is appalling. I agree if my children wanted to go into teaching I would not support their decision.

  • Maureen Dinnen

    As a 35-year retired teacher and union leader I wonder why anyone would choose to enter a profession where you are scorned as “the” major reason for “failing schools.” Teaching should allow one to use your knowledge and skills to activate the minds of students. Today corporate and legislative persons with no experience or knowledge about teaching or education are dictating to teachers, education support persons, principals, and school boards how schools should be run. I became a teacher to teach not to be a testing robot. M. Dinnen, Florida

  • Linda Bennett

    I retired this year at age 59. Had planned on teaching until 65, but just couldn’t take it any more. Love the kids, love teaching. Hate the way I was treated by administration and state and federal mandates. I just wanted to teach. I don’t want to be micromanaged and spend all my time collecting data and teaching to tests. I wanted to be involved in decisions. I wanted my administration and school board to ask me what I needed, what worked for my students, and really listen to my answers.