Why teachers quit

Frustrated by bureaucracy and exhausted by the struggle to control their students, thousands of California teachers quit the classroom, says Cal State’s Teacher Quality Institute. Nearly 22 percent quit in four years or less. At high-poverty schools, 10 percent of teachers leave every year.

… after six years in the trenches — transferred from campus to campus, forbidden from organizing field trips and ordered to teach math only after lunch — (Stephan) Goyne left the profession.

Now he works in real estate and runs a Brazilian jiujitsu studio in Oakland.

“That last year, I had enough of it,” said Goyne. “The biggest skill you’re applying is crowd control. You’re not really having a say in the curriculum or what goes into it.”

Teachers surveyed complained of paperwork, interruptions and “fruitless meetings that take time away from actual instruction.” Many also said their students had driven them out of teaching.

Sabrina Walasek loved teaching middle school science and math in Daly City and Felton, near Santa Cruz. But after six years, the Oakland resident found herself worn out from keeping kids in check .

“The amount of energy spent on discipline and behavior management just got to me after a while,” Walasek said.

Working conditions were more important than pay for teachers who quit.

“They’re almost saying ‘you couldn’t pay me enough to stay at this school,’” (study author Ken) Futernick said. Interestingly enough, teachers surveyed who stayed in the field and felt supported at their campus cited their compensation as adequate, the study says.

Those who left tough schools said they would not come back even if they earned more money, often known as combat pay.

“As long as we think of these schools as combat zones, we’re not going to close the achievement gap,” Futernick said. “We need to turn those schools into learning zones and teaching zones.”

The LA Times did a similar story, leading with mid-career professional with a chemistry doctorate who offered to teach at a high-poverty school desperate for science teachers. He didn’t last two years.

Fed up with student insolence and administrative impotence, he stalked out of Manual Arts High School on March 12 and never went back.

Smart, motivated people — the sort we want teaching — won’t stay in jobs if they can’t make a difference.

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