Dear Future President,
Schools will become empty, unfit teachers will be placed into the classroom with 30 or more students, and education as we know it will go down the drain. More and more teachers seem to be leaving the profession every year. Whether it’s the lack of respect, low pay, or unmet expectations, something is driving these teachers away. According to thebestschools.org, “The Metlife Survey of the American Teacher, conducted every year from 1984 through 2012 showed that job satisfaction in the final year of the survey was the lowest in 25 years. 39% of a national sample of teachers said they were satisfied with their jobs, down from a 62% satisfaction rate just four years earlier. More than a quarter of teachers report working 60 hours a week. More than a quarter of teachers also say they have to work a second job to make ends meet. For many years, it was taken that 40-50% of public and private schools teachers leave by the end of the 5th year of starting their career.” This evidence proves that teachers across America need extra support by the government to feel financially comfortable, physically safe, and supported by their buildings and districts.
According to Urban America, “Many experienced teachers are currently leaving the profession because of low pay, difficult working conditions, and lack of support from school administrators.” Teachers are fed up with being treated like they are irrelevant. Teachers teach the children who grow up to be scientists, engineers, doctors, and businessmen/women. Teachers are very underappreciated, and now they’re leaving the profession completely. It is difficult to grasp why teachers who go through years of schooling, end up thousands of dollars in debt, and spend hours in the classroom decide to leave the profession. According an article by the Washington Post, “For many years, it was taken as a given that between 40-50% of public and private school teachers leave by the end of the 5th year of starting their career.”
The disrespect teachers are feeling is starting to come into place. On average, teachers make around $35,000. According to teachhub.com, teachers are way underpaid for their jobs and responsibilities, stating, “If you look at what is expected of teachers, all the time spent before, during and after school, and the time spent on extracurricular activities as well as the emotional toll, that salary can be considered disrespectful”. In addition to this, “The average sales manager doubles his income by mid-career; a teachers pay goes up about 25% by then.” These statistics are horrifying and could could drive a well educated, hard working teacher away, causing a defect in the students learning, and the district to lose an impactful teacher.
Teachers leaving the profession largely affects the students. Urban America states that schools need to etain quality teachers if they want their students to receive a quality education. With most teachers deciding to leave, it is hard for schools to thoroughly interview teachers to make sure they are highly qualified. Teachers and Ethics says, “Given the amount of time teachers and students spend together, the importance of their relationship to the flourishing of each, and the frequency of failed connections that leave students misunderstood, disrespected, and underappreciated”. But how is a relationship supposed to flourish if the teachers keep leaving?
Currently, the states throughout the U.S. are happy with the standardized tests given each spring to help evaluate not just student learning, but also teachers success. They are also happy with changing the way teachers earn salary bumps and their tax contributions Governor Rick Snyder has even taken matters into his own hands. In 2010, a law was signed by Snyder and his predecessor Governor Granholm that would force teachers to contribute 3% of their salaries, which are already low, to retiree health care. According to a statement of MLive, “I’m angry at the state of Michigan and Governor Snyder are standing between us and our hard earned money.” Personally, being a student myself, I find that the tests themselves are drastically unfair. Students spend hours a day, for upwards of 12 years, preparing for a few tests that ultimately decide not only their educational standing, but also the teachers performance in the classroom. It is a proven fact that students education is not improving from standardized tests. According to The Leading Source of Pros and Cons of Controversial Issues, “Standardized testing has not improved student achievement. After No Child Left Behind passed in 2002, the US slipped from 18th in the world in math on the Programme for International Student Assessment to 31st place in 2009, with a similar drop in science and no change in reading. On May 26, 2011, National Research Council report found no evidence test-based incentive programs are working: ‘Despite using them for several decades, policymakers and educators do not yet know how to use test-based incentives to consistently generate positive effects on achievement and to improve education.’” It also states, “Standardized tests are an unreliable measure of student performance. A 2001 study published by the Brookings Institution found that 50-80% of year-over-year test score improvements were temporary and ‘caused by fluctuations that had nothing to do with long-term changes in learning…’” This information shows that the testing is a pointless source to measure whether a student's education is improving, or if a teacher is having an effect on the learning of the students.
Most teachers don't like that the administrators pay more attention to test score gains, than whether they had passed certification exams. According to Education Week, rather than measure a teacher's quality by their certification, or had earned advanced degrees, they looked at test score gains students made from year to year on state mathematics tests to determine which teachers were effective. To fix this problem, schools, and even the state should look deeper into a teacher's experience before deciding which teachers are, and aren't effective.
With all of this being said, I conclude this letter with the notion that the problems involving teachers being underappreciated, and underpaid, are addressed. If that does not happen, the turnover rate will continue to increase, in one of the most important jobs in America.
Hailey Rabideau, Michigan