Who’s going to teach?

Schools will have trouble finding “highly qualified” teachers to replace the retiring baby boomers, reports the Washington Post. Three quarters of teachers are women. In earlier generations, college-educated women had limited choices and frequently went into teaching. These days, they’re much less likely to choose a career in the classroom.

Overall, the proportion of women who pursue teaching after college, as well as the caliber of recruits, has declined significantly since the 1960s.

. . . in 1964 1 in 5 young female teachers graduated in the top 10 percent of her high school class, the ratio was closer to 1 in 10 by 2000.

The brightest teachers have a lot of other options and may be the first to leave teaching if they feel they’re not able to make a difference.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. I can relate. I taught high school for 10 years until I burned out. The first six were great but the last four were terrible. There were several things that finished me. First, the more effective you were, the more you were given to do. I had a master teacher rating and was worked to death. Second, the bureaucracy was crazy. It got to the point that procedures and policy became far more important than teaching and making a difference. Third, the micromanagement became unbearable. I got sick of having prescribed methods, scripts, and canned lesons forced down my throat. This was mailnly NCLB but after many years of receiving outstanding and exemplary ratings in all areas of my job with instruction being at the top, I knew what I was doing. Furthermore, if it didn’t work, I had sense enough to change and adapt. Fourth, the hipocracy and lack of backing. All I heard was that we have a rigourous course of study. Well, it was bare basic with high minded language. Finally, spaghetti spined administrators who refused to discipline, hid in their offices, and blamed teachers for everything that went wrong.

    If you want to attract and keep teachers, improve their working conditions. Given them the support they need and the freedom to do their job. Teachers are educated professional, treat them as such and give them the respect they deserve. I work as a financial advisor now and receive more respect and better treatment from my employer. WHile I do miss teaching, I could never go back.

  2. Roger Sweeny says:

    In many parts of the country, baby boom teachers have already retired.

    This spring, many school systems in eastern Massachusetts had the following problem: For the last several years, they had many retirements of 35-year teachers who were costing them $80,000 a year or more. The cost of a replacement was something like $40,000. Each retiree was a major help to the system’s finances (pensions come from a state fund). But this year, retirements were way down. Most everyone hired more than 35 years ago had already taken their pension and gone. Most of that retiree surplus vanished.

    It gets worse, Since the baby boom was followed by the baby bust, school attendance went into decline 35 years ago and there was no new hiring for over a decade. There will be few retirees in the next ten years. All that retirement bump is gone and unpleasant economies have to be instituted.

  3. I guess we’ll all stay tuned to see what is done to attract people into the profession. With internet courses avaialable getting credits and degrees isn’t as difficult as it used to be. Perhaps there will be a surge of highly qualified job candidates with that got certified through University of Phoenix online.

  4. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I taught for a year and a half after college (one semester as a substitute Latin teacher for someone on maternity leave, and the year before that as a full-time math teacher.)

    One thing I noticed was that while it’s fun and rewarding to teach the kids who WANT to be there (exhausting, but rewarding), it’s miserable to teach the kids who don’t care. (As first year teachers, my husband and I came home almost every day in tears!)

    When I was young, the kids who didn’t want to be in school mostly slouched in the back and ignored everything… Now they’re violently disruptive, and the parents side with the misbehaving kids, not the teacher!

    I quickly decided that teaching was not for me… While I enjoyed teaching the kids I liked (not always the brightest, but polite, pleasant, and willing to take responsibility for they’re own actions), I LOATHED teaching the others…..

    So I left the profession after 1 1/2 years. No school district pays enough to justify that sort of aggravation….

    Anyway, my point is that perhaps one reason fewer qualified people want to be teachers is because classroom behavior has deteriorated so much in the past few decades. A lot of teachers are becoming less like educators and more like prison guards….

    On an unrelated note, I taught in positions that did not require me to go back for a MAT. Why? Because MAT programs are HORRIBLY dull… all read it and spit it out. (I have this on authority from friends who survived them, and I visited a few classes and checked out the reading lists…)

    So intelligent people who value a good education are more likely to see them as something to endure rather than something useful…

    This might also be driving people from teaching… If you’ve had a great college experience with engaging professors, primary texts and intersting papers, the thought of two years doing high-school level “read and regurgitate” work is unappealing.

    The ed-schools may actually be feeding the teacher shortage problem…..

  5. Joanne,

    What is it about your site that seems to disproportionately attract folks who hate teaching, hate kids who don’t automatically like school, and hate the public education system?

  6. Mrs. Davis says:

    Their interest in real education and their broad exposure to the public education system, perhaps?

  7. I suspect malcontents are more likely to read blogs.

  8. “Malcontents are more likely to read blogs”

    Truer words have never been written.
    Particularly blogs with comments.

    (although I’ve never seeing any hating of kids who just didn’t immediately love school)

  9. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I didn’t hate the kids who didn’t LOVE school… I hated the kids who showed their discontent by screaming, throwing things, and generally behaving in an innapropriate manner for 16-year olds and whose parents BACKED THEM UP in this behavior……

    But most of the teachers hated those kids… Some left, some stayed but gave up on trying to teach…

  10. Filipinos. Filipinos and Indians (from India). The good old exchange visa program allows for *cough* non-immigrant teachers to come and teach in our schools for something like four or five years.
    I’ve heard of several school districts that sponsor exchange teachers from abroad to teach hard to fill subjects like math. The teachers from the Philippines love it, because conditions are (brace yourself) so much better here. The only disadvantage of teaching US children is that they’re worse behaved, though class sizes here are smaller.
    I had a classmate in the Philippines who had planned to come and teach in the US, but something was wrong on her end and she could come.

  11. Ragnarok says:

    TMAO said:

    “What is it about your site that seems to disproportionately attract folks who hate teaching, hate kids who don’t automatically like school, and hate the public education system?”

    Oh, very good, TMAO. With one shrewd thrust you’ve neutralised those of us who care about our children’s education. Very good indeed.

    I imagine we’ll just have to retire hurt, alas!

  12. We’re on the payroll of the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.

    The only reason I post here is that I’m very well compensated by the plutocrats who are scheming daily, even hourly, to turn a sheep-like public against the nobly-intentioned public education system.

    Oh, it’s an uphill fight to be sure. The opposition is uniformly brilliant, compassionate and so brave that they get very, very upset when they don’t get their way. How those wealthy plutocrats expect to prevail over opposition like that is beyond my tiny intellectual powers and my shriveled, uncaring soul but then as long as the checks keep coming, I don’t care.

    But in my rare, reflective moments I entertain the thought that, perhaps, there are actually two different species of human being: the insightful, compassionate, fashionable, attractive, charismatic born-leader human being and the stupid, hate-filled, Detroit-car driving, trailer-park inhabiting, borderline psychotic sociopath with no fashion sense type of human being.

    But then my brain starts to hurt so I get back to drinking beer and shooting at stop signs.

  13. Roger Sweeny says:

    One of my fellow teachers took a pay cut to teach at our high school (an ordinary suburban high school).

    When she had behavior problems at her old school, the administrators would not support her. The final straw occurred one day when she was out in the hall and saw a student come in late. The vice principal happened to be in the hall and told the student to report to the office. The student ignored the vp and the vp did nothing.

  14. Deirdre Mundy says:

    One of my final straws was when a parent informed me that it was MY fault his child (who had refused to do any homework, turned in blank quizzes on purpose, and regularly goofed off in class ins spite of detentions (which he seldom had to serve because his parents got him out of them)) failed a math test.

    Obviously I had made the test too hard, and was a horrible teacher…

    Which was odd, because the students who weren’t as bright as this child, but had done the work, asked questions in class and let me know when they needed extra help, and whose parents expected them to behave and try hard….. All did fine… better than they expected, in fact.

    Currently I tutor a group of homeschooled students in Latin. There’s a wide range of abilities and ages in the class, but they’re a joy to teach. Why? Because they’re pleasant, polite, and HAVE PARENTS WHO CARE ABOUT EDUCATION — not just about their ability to make the basketball team!!!

  15. Mrs. Davis, I reject your premise.

    allen, that was a nice moment you had with yourself, but it bears no relation to anything I wrote.

  16. “What is it about your site that seems to disproportionately attract folks who hate teaching, hate kids who don’t automatically like school, and hate the public education system?”

    Does that ring a bell for you?

    But maybe I should have treated your rhetorical question as a question instead of the hymn to the nobility the sort of folks this site doesn’t seem to attract according to you:

    It doesn’t and we, I, don’t. But being disinclined, perhaps incapable, of examining your own perceptions it’s just easier to see a lower class of human being.

  17. allen, I’m really sorry that somewhere along the line, someone made you feel very sad because of your social-political views. I wasn’t that person, I wasn’t reverting to the kind of silly right-left paradigm you like to invoke in its most extreme and absurd manifestations, and I wasn’t singing a “hymn to the nobility” of one single damn thing. Feel free to deconstruct the above all you wish, because, your clever wit to the contrary, I know you feel more than up to the task of uncovering all the hidden motivation of any number of folks you’ve never met.

  18. Ragnarok says:

    Quoth TMAO:

    “Mrs. Davis, I reject your premise.”

    Gosh, I’m awed by the simplicity and elegance of that argument. Stout denial, that’s the ticket.

    Orthogonal to reason, so I can’t very well attack it using logic, can I?

    BTW, given the amount of things you complain about – the kids, the parents, the ungrateful public, etc., etc. – have you considered changing your userid to CMAO? Truth in advertising, you know…

  19. Catch Thirty-Thr33 says:

    To TMAO – Why do I gripe about public schools? Very simple. They CAN BE BETTER than what they are, and I WANT them to be better than what they are. Why? Because the children, and eventually, society, will benefit if things can change for the better, or reap a bitter harvest if things continue as they are.

    Here’s an idea I have that I know will be positively hated by teacher’s unions, but – why not have some part-time teachers step in as well? Why not see if there is an engineer out there who would be willing (provided he/she is qualified and can do it) to teach pertinent classes, for example?

  20. Yup. I countered a one-sentence response with a one-sentence response.

    As for the rest, your snide assertion bears little resemblance to the actual writing I do on my site, or the occasional any occasional commenting. “… the kids, the parents, the ungrateful public?” Please. This is the same silliness one sees in allen’s post above: a weak and unsubstantiated characterization selected for its ease of authorship rather than its relation to fact.

  21. Ragnarok says:

    Ah, TMAO, it’s like old home week, don’t you think? The turgid prose, the mis-stated facts, the smooth slide into evasion.

    Just curious, are you still claiming that you’re paid $7.50/hour? I remember that we had quite some fun with this rather strange claim – strange considering that Bay Area teachers start at well over $40,000 for 9 months.

    What do you think of Catch Thirty-Thr33’S suggestion?

  22. Sure, sure.

    Mis-stated? I wrote a sentence, Mrs. Davis wrote a one-sentence response, and I responded with one-sentence.

    Evaded? Where is your support? My last ten blog posts are about an excellent educator, a poor job of reportage, educators doing a better job setting expectations for kids, long-term planning, new leaders, an instructional strategy, merit pay, and a throwaway post about not blogging very often.

    I wrote previously about the type of suggestion Catch Thirty-Thr33 makes: http://joannejacobs.com/2007/06/06/its-getting-better-2/#comment-50736

  23. Ragnarok says:

    Well, let’s see: Remember your claim that you were only getting paid $7.50 per hour? That’s a mis-statement, don’t you think?

    And what about your claim that this site “…seems to disproportionately attract folks who hate teaching, hate kids who don’t automatically like school, and hate the public education system?”

    Any proof of this? Many of the people who post here seem to be driven by their concern for kids. Another mis-statement, I think.

    As for evasion, how about your response to Mrs. Davis?

    But I do retract my suggestion that you change your userid to CMAO; given your propensity for strikes, SMAO would be more appropriate.

  24. Save your elaborate sarcasm for easily-awed twelve year-olds.

    If there’s any other interpretation for this:

    “What is it about your site that seems to disproportionately attract folks who hate teaching, hate kids who don’t automatically like school, and hate the public education system?”

    …feel free to elucidate. From my hate-filled point of view it seems like you’re describing the motivations of any number of folks you’ve never met. Or is there some other meaning to draw from the quoted sentence?

    No, I think the sentence accurately depicts your view which is that the people with whom you disagree are motivated by base emotions and thus whatever they have to say on a subject is properly ignored. Did I miss something or is there some less pejorative meaning to the sentence?

    Feel free to deconstruct the above all you wish, because, your clever wit to the contrary..

    Well lookee here, a favorable review. I and my clever wit thank you for what I’m reasonably sure wasn’t intended as a compliment.

    know you feel more than up to the task of uncovering all the hidden motivation of any number of folks you’ve never met.

    Hidden? What’s hidden about dismissing disagreement as evidence of hatred? Like I’ve asked before, what other interpretation is there? Do I hate teaching, hate kids who don’t automatically like school, and hate the public education system? Since I think it very unlikely I’m not covered by this blanket statement perhaps you’d care to pick among my possible motivations?

    Am I being paid to post here? Would that I were but no.
    Am I mentally defective, nuts? You do much in the way of diagnosing mental illness via blog comment sections? Probably.
    Am I evil, filled with unreasoning hatred? I guess I’d better be because the other two possibilities are patently absurd.

    Does that round out the possibilities or did I miss any?

  25. allen writes: “Save your elaborate sarcasm for easily-awed twelve year-olds.”

    Feel free to keep yours in the same place.

    Contrary to your own delusions of grandeur, I wasn’t including you in my question, but rather the individuals in the mold of D. Murphy who add nothing to the discourse. I’ve read, on numerous sites, your opinions on the motivating forces around the so-called public ed monopoly, and explained where and how I disagree, most recently in a thread I linked above, to which you did not respond. None of those disagreements are fueled by the motivations you have ascribed to me repeatedly; none of them are fueled by any assumptions I’ve made about you personally. That courtesy has not been repaid.

    “From my hate-filled point of view it seems like you’re describing the motivations of any number of folks you’ve never met. Or is there some other meaning to draw from the quoted sentence?”

    Not their motivations — their words. I don’t understand their motivations. Concern and critique make sense to me and are certainly valid in any number of ways. Again, given the myriad of ed blogs, why does this one seem to attract folks who write posts that pass well beyond concern and critique? Some of it is no doubt the choices J.J. makes in the articles she links, but there’s obviously more, and I find it interesting.

    “No, I think the sentence accurately depicts your view which is that the people with whom you disagree are motivated by base emotions and thus whatever they have to say on a subject is properly ignored.”

    Great, except that’s not my view. One of the ways you can tell is I’ve never asserted or implied anything even remotely approaching that. I know it would make it easier if I did.

  26. Ragnarok says:

    TMAO said:

    “Feel free to keep yours in the same place.”

    What? After all that rigorous union training on how to throw a brick through a windshield and so forth, you’re reduced to the equivalent of “So’s your mother”?

  27. TMAO wrote:

    Contrary to your own delusions of grandeur, I wasn’t including you in my question, but rather the individuals in the mold of D. Murphy who add nothing to the discourse.

    Ah. The fault lies with my inability to read what you didn’t write. Got it.

    Not their motivations — their words. I don’t understand their motivations.

    In what sense is this:

    What is it about your site that seems to disproportionately attract folks who hate teaching, hate kids who don’t automatically like school, and hate the public education system?

    …not a conclusion about motivations? It seems to me that if you can stuff the word “hate” into a sentence three times you’ve reached a conclusion about motivations.

    Again, given the myriad of ed blogs, why does this one seem to attract folks who write posts that pass well beyond concern and critique?

    That assumes that your perception is accurate. My own is that the spit-hitting-the-monitor types don’t show up very often and never stay for very long which brings me to the question of, who’s D. Murphy?

    About the post to which I didn’t respond? I’ve got it bookmarked now.