Teachers quitting in record numbers

I saw this on LinkedIn this morning. Doesn't surprise me. Districts here have endured large budget cuts during the great recession and funding has not come all the way back with the recovery. I urge everyone to contact their local legislators and encourage more funding for public education. It's a labor of love for these educators, and I don't know what we would do without them.

"Teachers quitting in record numbers
Teachers and public education staff, including community-college faculty employees, school psychologists and janitors, are fleeing their jobs in record numbers, The Wall Street Journal reports. Teachers cite puny pay raises, frustration about school budgets and improving prospects elsewhere — thanks to the tighter labor market — as key reasons for their departures. An average 83 per 10,000 public educators quit in the first 10 months of 2018, the highest rate on record. The number is striking because “stability is viewed as a key perk,” and longevity is typically rewarded."

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83 per 10k is a leave rate of less than 1% over a year. Actually not that bad, but I'm wondering if you nature grabbed the wrong number somewhere. Granted I'd like to see educators paid more but just asking legislators to increase the budget means it goes directly into nonsense like administrators pockets and textbook manufacturers and rip off contractors. Any increase HAS to explicitly allocate educator pay.
I think the number that leave the profession is much larger than that... The last I looked, it was about 30% leaving the profession completely within three years - especially in STEM fields where folks can earn much better pay in other professions and Special Ed where the stress and paperwork can be overwhelming...

In my state, there was a huge lawsuit that has really made a difference. I got an 11% pay raise this year because if it. It took about 10 years several budget cycles, and heavy involvement by the state Supreme Court... (Google the McCleary decision if you want information.)

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I ran into the article from which the stats were taken... in 2018, 83 teachers out of 10,000 quit every month during the school year. That’s 830 in a school year out of 10,000 positions. Or roughly 1 in 12.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
We have an average town 40 minutes from me....seems the teachers are on strike and they brought in sub's at big bucks. My questions to those in the know, why not pay the teachers that money instead. This is not the L.A. school system.

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping....
@MFJohnston wrote:

I ran into the article from which the stats were taken... in 2018, 83 teachers out of 10,000 quit every month during the school year. That’s 830 in a school year out of 10,000 positions. Or roughly 1 in 12.

Thanks for following up @MFJohnston. That is a troubling stat. I don't really know if there is a more critical profession as it relates to our future than the role our teachers play in shaping the next generations. We need to value and reward them for the job they do.

proudly shopping in the D.
Having been a public school teacher and on the front lines in quite a few battles - leading a strike effort and lobbying in the state capitol, I have some insights.

Teacher pay is a really complicated issue - and the issues vary in each state. One of the largest problems is that, as with any political issue, there are many misconceptions about the issue. Some folks believe that teachers are vastly overpaid as they view teachers as either part-time employees or temporary workers, for instance.

In Washington, where I am, there are huge cost-of-living discrepancies in different regions. For example, in Seattle, the average rent for a modest (but not clean or run down) apartment is $2400/ mo. and the average home costs about $600K. However, in Gold Bar (a bit over an hour north), the same apartment might be $1200/mo. and the same home $120K. Teachers in Gold Bar are some of the wealthiest folks in town. In Seattle, they are not the poorest, but they can't support a family particularly well and, unless they are married to somebody who makes more money, will never be able to afford a house. Paying teachers different amounts regionally does not solve the issue either as, as politicians in less expensive areas correctly point out, teachers will live the the cheaper areas and simply accept a longer commute to more expensive communities. Etc.

Many folks also believe in letting market forces drive salaries. Well, we have plenty of elementary school, English, art, music and history teachers. However, we really struggle to find STEM and Special Education teachers. Such folks suggest allowing the salaries of some subject fall and paying folks in more in-demand subjects rise so as to match salaries better with supply-and-demand. Teachers are generally strongly opposed to this as, suddenly, some subjects would pay double what other subjects pay for doing, essentially, the same job. This would create a lot of tension in the teaching force.

The other factor in much of this is that teachers are government employees. If you give teachers a raise, you have to pay for it. This means either cutting other government functions or raising taxes - neither of which is popular. This is particularly unpopular in more rural areas where teachers are already paid well more than the average resident - the guy footing the bill for the pay raise.

In a nutshell, there is no easy solution for teacher pay. The McCleary decision is Washington State was huge for teachers here - and helped a lot. However, it was a ten-year process - and a lot of folks are not happy with it.

@Irene_L.A. wrote:

We have an average town 40 minutes from me....seems the teachers are on strike and they brought in sub's at big bucks. My questions to those in the know, why not pay the teachers that money instead. This is not the L.A. school system.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I don’t blame those that leave the field altogether. I know money isn’t everything, but unless you truly, truly love the job, it’s not worth getting sorely underpaid with diminishing career benefits...

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 28 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
Some careers are for helping others and loving that aspect, teaching is one. I heard the L.A. school system pays well (I don't know). I then hear teachers have to provide their own supplies. My daughter had the best teachers in a small school system. we moved there due to L.A. busing at that time. Being they work less 9 months a year I can't understand the problem,
MFJs post gives a lot of insight to the complexity of it, but teachers never worked for the money. Does anyone know the average an elementry teacher makes, just curious. We do have Charter schools, do they pay more?

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping....
Nationally, teachers make about $60K annually. However, beginning teachers are closer to $35K and the highest paid teachers (on average) are around $90K. However, there is a huge variation from state to state. These figures also do not generally include the costs of medical benefits. Some areas with higher teaching salaries contribute less towards benefits, for instance. (Medical insurance costs have hit teachers hard, just like everybody else.)

None of us get into teaching to get rich. Many of us entered the profession as bright-eyed idealists and, at age 22 or 23, had no idea what it really takes to raise a family. So, as we get older and want to do things like get married and have kids, we find that the lower salaries sometimes don't cover expenses. I've worked two jobs, in some shape or form, for much of my teaching career. What *should* teachers get paid? You'll find as many answers to that as there are people in this country.

As for charter schools, they vary greatly. However, most are for-profit models and, as a part of that model, look to drive expenses down. They focus on finding young teachers willing to work for peanuts. (Or old folks willing to work for walnuts.) Either way, most charters pay less than their traditional public school counter parts. They also frequently have extreme demands on teachers - expecting them to give their cells out to students and being available to take questions from kids 24/7. (It sounds nice to do this, but teachers do need sleep and time with their families, too!)

As a note: As they are paid by the government, teacher salaries are a matter of public record. You can find salary schedules online. In many cases, you can find out exactly how much individual teachers make.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
@Irene_L.A. wrote:

Some careers are for helping others and loving that aspect, teaching is one. I heard the L.A. school system pays well (I don't know). I then hear teachers have to provide their own supplies. My daughter had the best teachers in a small school system. we moved there due to L.A. busing at that time. Being they work less 9 months a year I can't understand the problem,
MFJs post gives a lot of insight to the complexity of it, but teachers never worked for the money. Does anyone know the average an elementry teacher makes, just curious. We do have Charter schools, do they pay more?

Charters can sometimes pay more but often require more workload or pay similar with more freedom for the teachers as a trade off.
I fled before entering fully into the profession. I would not have minded the money. I always minded the politics... the worst instance was the kid who bludgeoned everyone with a legal stance that 'yes, they could do this/would not do that and everyone else be damned'... That kid needed a sharply administered 'Oy, Harry!' at the very least. HP had not appeared in print yet, and we did not know how to apply the new kid lit... but I digress.

Teaching is not for the faint of heart. I was the faintest of heart when it came to facing down entrenched systems that made a mockery of learning and dulled when not killing the faint and flickering motivations of students who needed to be free to bring down above-named kid or free to shake off the oppressive legal mandate that fostered and foisted a bullying idiocy. But that is not how peer pressure worked. Said kid had no peer!

Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there. - Clarence W. Hall
Thanks everyone for the replies. While I know this is a nationwide problem, I am happy to say our newly elected governor made it one of her first actions to sign an executive mandate that required state funds allocated to supporting education not be appropriated for any other purpose. The previous administration, while they did some good things, the education funds seemed to be the first piggy bank they would stick their hands into when they needed more funding for other things.

@MFJohnston, I appreciate your insight. I can see how the issue gets complicated. I wonder if the state could somehow keep pay scales similar across the board in the state, yet subsidize housing expenses and require teachers to live inside their district.

@Shop-et-al, I'm sorry to hear about your experience. How long ago was that? I think bullying has become a more important issue at least in our school district. While when I was growing up, it was pretty much ignored. Now it's 3 reported incidents, and your out. You can reapply the next year after counseling. Thankfully, my kids have not had any issues, but they know of others that have. The last one was some boy harassing, making fun of, a girl on the bus. They have cameras on the busses now, so no disputing the violations. That boy is no longer in school. Too bad, because he was a smart kid in the advanced STEM program. He'll get another chance next year, but at least all the other kids get to see that there are consequences for their actions.

proudly shopping in the D.
I don't think this aspect has been addressed, but could some of the teachers who are leaving be leaving because of personal safety concerns?? Particularly in the older grades??? No one in authority is allowed to discipline anymore in any way that is effective, or so it seems. So I was wondering about the attrition rate due to issues of personal safety. Anyone have any thoughts on that???
Personally with the high cost of living, rents, homes, I feel it is a money problem, or that is more than half the problem. I feel no one ever expects a shooting in their school, or would leave a job for that reason.

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping....
@Irene_L.A. wrote:

Personally with the high cost of living, rents, homes, I feel it is a money problem, or that is more than half the problem. I feel no one ever expects a shooting in their school, or would leave a job for that reason.

Agreed. I had a glimpse of possibly going into teaching. For the majority of my undergrad, I tutored nearly 30 hours a week in math, physics and engineering for the university.... then I realized the abysmal pay rates for teaching and scratched that off my potential career paths immediately.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 28 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
Where we are, we both get six figures teaching at a public school. Almost half of my salary goes to pay the mortgage on my modest house. I was a lawyer before I became a teacher. This has been both the easiest and the hardest job I have ever had.
It is not that teachers get three months off or only work a certain amount. Teachers often work summers either doing summer school, curriculum work or do a side job. As much as I love mystery shopping I would not do it if I a huge chunk of my pay wasn't going to health insurance. If you aren't in education it is easy to judge probably just like any other field. For the comments that teachers get all this time off it is simply not true.
Most folks who leave schools for personal safety reasons, simply go to different schools. Relatively few schools are such a mess that teacher safety on a daily basis is a concern.... If you are referring to mass shootings, we are all very upset each time it happens. We regularly drill and learn procedures - some pretty extreme. For instance, I learned how to disarm a shooter coming into my classroom earlier this year. However, very few people leave the profession out of that concern.

Discipline... Discipline does happen and can be effective with modern rules. What we've removed is corporal punishment and publicly shaming students. Administrators who want schools to run smoothly can effectively use various forms of detentions and in-school suspensions to really help keep all but the most troubled kids reasonably well-behaved. However, this really does require that all the adults involved (teachers, administrators, school boards) be on the same page with discipline and willing to deal with angry parents who want to stick up for their kids we "deny" any wrong doing. Of course, strong parental support is better than any discipline system a school can institute. At my current school, I can call parents and, 99% of the time, discipline problems are solved with a single phone call - and, therefore, I rarely have to call parents at all for misbehavior. We have, but rarely use detention here. At my previous school, 50% of the time the call did no good - the parent would take their child's word over mine. (As if I would lie to the parent about little Jimmy shooting spitballs.) At this school detention was full every day - both during lunch and after school. However, for most kids - who love the socialization of lunch, missing three or four lunch periods was enough to curb behavior. Most of the rest realized that staying after school two hours each day wan't fun either....There is discipline in schools and savvy educators can use it well.

All that said, yes, there are some very difficult schools. However, these schools would be difficult, no matter what sort of discipline there is.

@guysmom wrote:

I don't think this aspect has been addressed, but could some of the teachers who are leaving be leaving because of personal safety concerns?? Particularly in the older grades??? No one in authority is allowed to discipline anymore in any way that is effective, or so it seems. So I was wondering about the attrition rate due to issues of personal safety. Anyone have any thoughts on that???

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
@PaulinMI wrote:

I saw this on LinkedIn this morning. Doesn't surprise me. Districts here have endured large budget cuts during the great recession and funding has not come all the way back with the recovery. I urge everyone to contact their local legislators and encourage more funding for public education. It's a labor of love for these educators, and I don't know what we would do without them.

"Teachers quitting in record numbers
Teachers and public education staff, including community-college faculty employees, school psychologists and janitors, are fleeing their jobs in record numbers, The Wall Street Journal reports. Teachers cite puny pay raises, frustration about school budgets and improving prospects elsewhere — thanks to the tighter labor market — as key reasons for their departures. An average 83 per 10,000 public educators quit in the first 10 months of 2018, the highest rate on record. The number is striking because “stability is viewed as a key perk,” and longevity is typically rewarded."

smiling smiley jokes, could it have anything to do with assaults from students and teachers hating their jobs?

Many Engrish teachers work on this forum. Have a question, just raise your hand. smiling smiley
@michaelfitz.gerald, I don't think anyone was joking on this thread. Not sure about how to take your reply.

proudly shopping in the D.
Why do teachers leave? Doubtful that it's as much about the money as it is about the job. They're not underpaid here, by any standard. They are, however, expected to be a de facto parent for children who are poorly parented at home, yet they don't have the (often legal) authority to do so effectively. In many cases, the students are not interested in learning and eachers end up little more than babysitters. Or they spend most of their time with a few poorly behaved students to the detriment of all others.

MF, if I have you pegged correctly, your district is well above the norm in test scores, dual parent families, and education level of parents. Additionally, you're teaching students who are preparing for higher education. I can see why you don't leave. That's going to be a far different experience than someone worried about their job and their safety every day. Search "teacher beaten" and it's shocking how often this occurs.

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
@iShop123 wrote:

Why do teachers leave? Doubtful that it's as much about the money as it is about the job. They're not underpaid here, by any standard. They are, however, expected to be a de facto parent for children who are poorly parented at home, yet they don't have the (often legal) authority to do so effectively. In many cases, the students are not interested in learning and eachers end up little more than babysitters. Or they spend most of their time with a few poorly behaved students to the detriment of all others.

MF, if I have you pegged correctly, your district is well above the norm in test scores, dual parent families, and education level of parents. Additionally, you're teaching students who are preparing for higher education. I can see why you don't leave. That's going to be a far different experience than someone worried about their job and their safety every day. Search "teacher beaten" and it's shocking how often this occurs.

Where are you located, what’s the pay looking like and the cost of a typical average home? (Let’s say 3,000 sq ft, 4 bedroom house built in the 2000’s)

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 28 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
As somebody who has been teaching for 23 years at different schools and in different districts, I can tell yiubrhat you are wrong: teachers do leave because of money. Some leave for other reasons but many leave because of money.

My current school is in a wealthier area. My previous school was not. I fully understand teaching in low income communities. You do not need to tell me about the experiences folks have in my profession. One of the reasons we struggle to get teachers paid well is that wuite a few no -teachers make false assumptions about the profession.

@iShop123 wrote:

Why do teachers leave? Doubtful that it's as much about the money as it is about the job. They're not underpaid here, by any standard. They are, however, expected to be a de facto parent for children who are poorly parented at home, yet they don't have the (often legal) authority to do so effectively. In many cases, the students are not interested in learning and eachers end up little more than babysitters. Or they spend most of their time with a few poorly behaved students to the detriment of all others.

MF, if I have you pegged correctly, your district is well above the norm in test scores, dual parent families, and education level of parents. Additionally, you're teaching students who are preparing for higher education. I can see why you don't leave. That's going to be a far different experience than someone worried about their job and their safety every day. Search "teacher beaten" and it's shocking how often this occurs.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
3,000 sf, 4 bd home is probably not "typical" for most people, but to answer your questions, T, base salary here is $55-60k starting, median home price ~$250k according to Trulia. That's a pretty good gig. One of my kidlets teaches and makes more as a fairly new teacher (with a class size <20) than my partner makes with a degree and years of experience in the field. For 10 months out of the year and a vacation, holiday, and medical package that's enviable.

We have several educators in my family, and know many people who are now teaching or have left teaching. In my experience, the decision to leave is rarely about the money. It's about the job, the politics, the administration, their own children/family, and/or the students (including safety).

What do you consider "well paid," MF? Your state will have a $20,000,000,000 (that's BILLION) budget for 2020. That's for roughly 1,100,000 government school students (source: OSPI). The money comes from taxpayers. How much is "enough"? Should excellent teachers be paid the same as no-so-excellent teachers? Do you pay teachers in Mercer Island (ranked in the top 100 in the nation) the same as teachers in Everett-Hawthorne (worst according to Seattle Times)? Is it right to pay them the same when the conditions are vastly different, or when the taxes are disparate? There's not really a blanket answer..

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
@iShop123 wrote:

3,000 sf, 4 bd home is probably not "typical" for most people, but to answer your questions, T, base salary here is $55-60k starting, median home price ~$250k according to Trulia. That's a pretty good gig. One of my kidlets teaches and makes more as a fairly new teacher (with a class size <20) than my partner makes with a degree and years of experience in the field. For 10 months out of the year and a vacation, holiday, and medical package that's enviable.

We have several educators in my family, and know many people who are now teaching or have left teaching. In my experience, the decision to leave is rarely about the money. It's about the job, the politics, the administration, their own children/family, and/or the students (including safety).

What do you consider "well paid," MF? Your state will have a $20,000,000,000 (that's BILLION) budget for 2020. That's for roughly 1,100,000 government school students (source: OSPI). The money comes from taxpayers. How much is "enough"? Should excellent teachers be paid the same as no-so-excellent teachers? Do you pay teachers in Mercer Island (ranked in the top 100 in the nation) the same as teachers in Everett-Hawthorne (worst according to Seattle Times)? Is it right to pay them the same when the conditions are vastly different, or when the taxes are disparate? There's not really a blanket answer..

$50k-60k for the rest of your career isn’t exactly a well-paying salary if you’re raising a family, and if a typical home is $250k. What’s considered typical to you? As a professional, my opinion, is getting paid near, at or above six figures for that kind of price range for homes is what I consider a good paying position. If the argument is that there’s a budget from the state, what about other government-paid professions who are easily getting paid much more than teachers? Again, my opinion.

Shopping the Greater Denver Area, Colorado Springs and in-between in Colorado. 28 year old male and willing to travel! Badged for Denver International Airport.
I moved to a suburb 30 miles outside of L.A. proper when I sized down from my 3400 Sq..foot home in Calabasas to a 1600 SF condo.and $249,00 for a condo is not going to happen. Homes in the subs are 600,00 and 800,000 (least) in the city with good areas much more. Condo's here in the subs are well over 400,000. Home sales here are down 1% fearing for the economy, how can teachers live without raises, over sized classes and the pressures. Not taking care of our teachers is not taking care of our kids......guess they'll learn on the computer, education as I see it, is below normal and getting into a "good" college without an excellent education will be another problem. Maybe that is why our kids are marrying older and many choosing not to have kids.....speaking from experience....there is always a domino effect to everything. I am comparing my daughters education and her job and her pay and see so many college kids having to take out loans to get into a state school,...I'm depressing everyone, so, hopefully things will get better.....

When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping....


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/13/2019 02:27AM by Irene_L.A..
@Tarantado, you make a great point. Personally, I value the contribution our teachers make to our society much more than our legislators, That pay scale needs to flip.

proudly shopping in the D.
@iShop123 wrote:

What do you consider "well paid," MF? Your state will have a $20,000,000,000 (that's BILLION) budget for 2020. That's for roughly 1,100,000 government school students (source: OSPI). The money comes from taxpayers. How much is "enough"? Should excellent teachers be paid the same as no-so-excellent teachers? Do you pay teachers in Mercer Island (ranked in the top 100 in the nation) the same as teachers in Everett-Hawthorne (worst according to Seattle Times)? Is it right to pay them the same when the conditions are vastly different, or when the taxes are disparate? There's not really a blanket answer..

"Well paid" is a completely subjective term. I believe that anybody with a good education who works full time should be able to earn enough to support a small family in a modest home. (Yes, I believe that should be true for other professions as well.)

Yes, we have a budget for education in our state that sounds large.. You can through "billion" around all you like, but very few folks have a concept of what a billion dollars really can and cannot do. It is more money than folks can really fathom. However, here is how we arrived at that budget:
* Your state constitution says that funding basic public education is the "Paramount Duty" of our state. In the process of a long battle in the courts -t hat lasted about ten years - it was determined that the state legislature was constitutionally mandated to fund "Basic Education" before anything else. The state legislature then defined "Basic Education," which includes everything from teacher salaries, to school supplies, to support staff, to buses to buildings up to modern codes, and more. They then went through and priced out what it would cost to fund what the legislature decided was "Basic Education." We now have a healthy education budget.

Your citing of Mercer Island and Hawthorne Elementary is a completely pathetic attempt to rank teachers. Hawthorne Elementary is located in one of the roughest neighborhoods in Western Washington. 87% of its students live in poverty. A large percentage don't speak English as a first language. Etc. Mercer Island is one of the wealthiest areas in our state. Comparing the test scores of schools in these neighborhoods (which the Seattle Times has been prone to do), is far from a measure of teacher skill. Having taught in schools with very different socio-economic demographics, I know personally that test scores very significantly between schools with such differences, even with the same level of teaching.

Median Home Price on Mercer Island: $1.5 M
Median Home Price in Everett: $372K
Starting Teaching Salaries in Washington: $49K-$57K, depending on education. Some districts offer more, based off cost-of living, but that is generally not more than a 10% boost

Yes, money comes from taxpayers. I am a taxpayer, too. Here is how you know when you are not paying teacher enough: You can't fill all your teaching positions. Before the McCleary Decision (the lawsuit I references above), it was very common for schools, especially those in rural areas, to not e ale to find math, science, special education and ELL teachers to fill teaching vacancies. We created "emergency certifications" (i.e.: Finding ways to "qualify" folks to teach who did not have the generally accepted qualifications) so that we could fill classrooms.

As to your list of why teachers leave... Consider this..
If they claim the reason is
"Administration," they are getting less than great evaluations and may have been facing eventual termination. Otherwise, they would have moved to a different school/district.
"Raising kids" - Yes, a few folks do this. However, only those who want to stay at home and have a partner with enough income to support a familiy. (In Seattle, most folks do not have such a partner.
"The Politics": This is generally an excused for something else. Nobody quits because of what is said in the press, etc.
"The Workload":: Translate: I am not getting paid enough to do this.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
i dont think anyone says we pay teachers to much.

its all about the pensions. the pensions of some in PA i have heard are anywhere from $5000 a month to $12000 a month here for administrators... according to this website not sure about the trustworthiness the average pension for all pa state employees is $28,000 or so which translates to more than $2000 a month on top of social security.... there is a 10 year requirement of employment to be eligible for payment... early retirement is available at 57 if you work 35 years.
[www.mcall.com]

as a substitute teacher i am working my way towards a small pension so i am participating... contributions are 7% for me but you can go as high as 12%

in erie PA we have a huge number of highly profitable businesses that use a system called LERTA basically they get a 50% cut in the taxes they pay and the main recipient of those taxes is the city school system. its really a horrible system.. the largest recipient is UPMC Hamot which profits upwards of $30,000,000 a year.. thats the place to start business tax credits. from small to large... its not like after investing $110,000,000 they are going to pick up and leave a city of 100,000 people and give all that business to LECOM and Allegheny Health.

shopping north west PA and south west ny
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