Perhaps one of the most disheartening bits of news parents are likely to hear in regards to the state of education in our country is about the huge number of teachers leaving the profession. While there is some evidence to indicate that the number has leveled off from 2008 to 2015 when the study by the Albert Shanker Institute was conducted, it is also their contention that this was largely due to the Great Recession and an ‘across the board’ reluctance to leave a job if you had one.
The next survey will probably give a more realistic analysis of teachers leaving the field, but for the time being, although that number is holding fairly steady, there are still too many teachers calling it quits. What are the most common reasons and what can we do, as a nation, to encourage more teachers to remain at their posts?
Burnout and Debt
Somehow there appears to be a direct correlation between teacher burnout and debt. While sometimes it seems that teachers are constantly trudging an uphill battle when trying to motivate our young to do and be something in life, that battle might not be so hard-fought if teachers made a better salary. If you were to do a comparison on the Bureau of Labor Statistics, you would find that many other fields of study with a comparable number of ‘years to degree’ make a much higher rate of pay.
Why is that? We are entrusting our children to these highly skilled and caring professionals, yet they can’t make a decent wage with decent benefits. Stress can play a huge role in fatigue and eventual burnout and the source of that stress isn’t always in the classroom. The bills that keep stacking up are a key trigger, according to many leavers who took the time to explain why they were changing professions.
Help Is Out There So Don’t Despair!
While former President Obama signed legislation that offered student loan forgiveness for teachers in an effort to ease their burden, not all teachers are aware of this program. Others aren’t eligible for the benefit due to the area in which they teach, among other factors. Actually, there are companies out there who are able to help teachers, in many cases, get forgiveness of up to $17,500 on those student loans. It will be interesting to see what the next study finds regarding the rate of teachers leaving the profession, but it will be even more interesting to note the reasons why.
There is a good bit of conjecture that the numbers will be a bit higher this time around due to a stabilization within the economy, but little rise in the rate of teacher salary. There may be nothing we, as citizens and voters, can do to give them the salaries they deserve, but we can encourage teachers to seek loan forgiveness wherever possible. The amount forgiven might be equal to a pay raise covering a few years’ salary, so it’s worth the effort. Good teachers are hard to find. Great teachers are a rare gem, indeed! Let’s keep them at their posts.
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Daniel & David
Youth Are the Way to the Future but Teachers Hold the Map