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Original article URL: http://bridgemi.com/2013/10/michigan-classrooms-loaded-with-rookie-teachers-who-soon-wash-out/

Talent & education

Michigan classrooms loaded with rookie teachers who soon wash out

“I started teaching in a charter school in Taylor. I showed up and they said, ‘Here’s a curriculum,’ and they handed me a USB (drive) and a pile of books and said, ‘Teach this,’ and you’re kind of left alone. You’re almost creating your own curriculum, and as a 23 year old, I didn’t have the intellectual capacity to do a perfect lesson yet.”

—Benjamin Brierre, currently a teacher at Birmingham Seaholm High School

Teachers drop out at a higher rate than their students.

An estimated 10 percent leave the profession in their first year; between 30 and 40 percent flee the classroom within four years, about the time it takes for teachers to attain a journeyman level of skill at their job.

Michigan students drop out at a 24-percent clip.

Teacher churn, built into Michigan’s education system, is a disservice to teachers and a calamity to students, an estimated one of six of whom are taught for at least part of the day by a teacher with one year or less of experience. Those young teachers often are eager and passionate, but don’t yet have the skills to maximize student learning.

“We lose so many good teachers because they sense that it’s not worth it,” said Susan Melnick, assistant to the chair of teacher education at Michigan State University’s School of Education. “How long is it going to take before we realize we are throwing away generations of kids?”

Younger and teaching fewer years

“There was no preparation for classroom management. I was totally unprepared for that. I was like two days ahead of the kids at all times. It’s a sink or swim profession. If you survive the first year, you can keep going. But the first year … it’s just grueling.”

— Wendy Zdeb-Roeper, currently executive director of the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals

In 1987-88, the most common amount of experience for U.S. teachers was 15 years, according to the U.S Department of Education; twenty years later, it was one year.

The state does not track the percent of educators who drop out of public schools. But it does record the longevity and age of teachers, which serve as proxies for the scope of teacher churn.

Find the longevity and age of the teachers in your school district or charter. 

That data indicates that about one in eight teachers have less than five years’ experience in their school. There are almost as many teachers with one year or less experience in their current school as teachers with more than 20 years’ experience.

The percentage of U.S. teachers under the age of 30 doubled in just five years, from 2006 to 2011.  Those young teachers are dropping out at a faster rate than in the past, with one in ten educators with 1-3 years of experience leaving the classroom every year.

A study by the National Council on Teaching and America’s Future found that even though teacher churn stunts student learning, states haven’t addressed the problem.

“Even as the attrition rate of new teachers steadily increases,” the study concluded, “the country continues to pursue industrial-era recruitment practices that place under-prepared, inexperienced individuals alone in the classroom – often in the most challenging schools and classrooms.”

That troubling trend appears to be occurring in Michigan. A Bridge Magazine analysis found that high-poverty schools are more than twice as likely to have inexperienced teachers than wealthy, suburban schools. The result: the kids who are most in need of experienced teachers are the least likely to get them.

Less experience, less learning

“You’re 22 or 23, you’ve got 150-plus students (in high school), and I’m getting about 20 minutes of feedback every three or four months. There’s no support, you’re woefully unprepared, and you’re totally isolated. You’re trying to put these lesson plans together at 10 o’clock at night, and you have to be up at 5 getting prepped. You’re making this curriculum up as you’re going it alone.”

— Amber Arellano, executive director of Education Trust-Midwest

Teacher turnover hurts student learning, according to a study conducted in part by University of Michigan assistant professor Matthew Ronfeldt.

“There’s fairly substantial empirical evidence that you need to get teachers past those first five years for them to be as effective as they can be,” Ronfeldt said. “They leave before they get their feet under them. My sense is that teaching is less a lifetime career choice than it used to be.”

It’s almost as if young teachers have a planned obsolescence in a system of training, hiring and quitting that’s been followed for a century.

“We designed it to be easy entry, easy exit,” said Deborah Ball, dean of the University of Michigan School of Education. “Churn is a big problem because we have so many inexperienced teachers leading classrooms.”

Why do they leave?

“Most years I’ve taught, I’ve not taught the same lesson twice in the same day. So, I have multiple preps (lessons to prepare daily), three or four preps, then I grade homework and prepare the next day. Some days, you can’t even move, you just stay in the desk. Some days you go home and your brain’s fried but you have work to do. I have fantasized about being fired and working as a barista.”

— Birmingham teacher Benjamin Briere.

An estimated 40 percent of teachers spend as much or more time training to be a teacher than being a teacher. After years of education and, for many of them, tens of thousands of student loan debt, why do they leave?

Teaching often is a high-stress job, particularly for young teachers trying to figure out how to manage a classroom – something most are expected to learn on the job.

That can be a tough transition for 23-year-olds who have less on-the-job experience than plumbers need to get a license.

“They can have all the pedagogy in the world, and if they don’t have classroom management skills, a room of middle schoolers will eat them alive,” said Kevin Miller, superintendent of Croswell-Lexington Public Schools.

Meanwhile, teachers are bombarded with negative stereotypes, from “those who can, do, and those who can’t, teach,” to being the scapegoats for low student achievement, even though studies show that poverty and home life have a bigger impact.

“Even if you put a very prepared teacher in a classroom,” said Avner Segall, acting chair of teacher education at MSU, “if everything around them says that society does not value them, they will leave.”

What can be done?

“Usually, the stuff I’ve picked up, I’ve slipped in and seen a good teacher for 15 minutes. I wish I had time to sit down with those teachers who had been doing this for 25 years and ask them what to do. I have this student with this problem, how do I help them? How do I bring in their parents? But I have classes and they’ve got Honors English. No one has time.”

— Benjamin Briere

A teacher retention program in Hillsborough County, Fla. (home of Tampa and St. Petersburg) resulted in a massive reduction in teacher turnover. First-year teacher drop outs fell from 28 percent to 14 percent to 5 percent in three years.

In the program, rookie teachers get tips on classroom management and lesson planning from intensive, regular mentoring from veteran teachers. Student test scores are on the rise, and the achievement gap between white and minority students is shrinking.

Hillsborough provides a model for reducing teacher churn, but not the money. The Florida program is part of a massive education reform effort bankrolled by a $200 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. A billionaire isn’t likely to swoop in and help Escanaba.

So what can Michigan do?

“If you’re smart and ambitious and there are other opportunities out there, you think, I’m glad I did this, but there are other ways to be involved in education.”

— Amber Arellano

Education majors need earlier exposure to real classrooms, so budding teachers can opt out of the program before spending four years and perhaps $100,000 on an education degree. Numerous principals and superintendents interviewed by Bridge said districts hire teachers straight out of college and then have to “teach them to teach” – a reference to classroom management. Most college programs already expose students to K-12 classes before student teaching, but public school educators encourage even more.

Co-teaching with a veteran teacher for a year or two would help, as well. Ball is an advocate of a medical-intern model for education, in which new teachers aren’t given their own classrooms immediately. “I think it’s appalling that we put teachers in classrooms before they’re ready,” Ball said.

Co-teaching or intensive mentoring would be costly. But some savings would occur as schools spend less on new-teacher training. There is also a cost that is harder to quantify, but critical to consider: Students who learn less because of inexperienced teachers and high turnover means fewer students who are ready for college and careers.

Senior Writer Ron French joined Bridge in 2011 after having won more than 40 national and state journalism awards since he joined the Detroit News in 1995. French has a long track record of uncovering emerging issues and changing the public policy debate through his work. In 2006, he foretold the coming crisis in the auto industry in a special report detailing how worker health-care costs threatened to bankrupt General Motors.

42 comments from Bridge readers.Add mine!

  1. David Waymire

    This is a more pressing problem facing education today than “getting rid of bad teachers.” It’s much harder to get the smartest of society teaching and keep them there than to force the few bad apples out. So why has our focus been on the wrong thing for so long?

    1. Duane

      David,

      Mr. French seems prejudice against success and only wants failures to talk about. It doesn’t appear that Mr. French has talked to any teachers in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd year that have been successful or does seem anyone else in the system is looking for success or trying to understand success. They all seem pre-occupied with failures.

      Until people like Mr. French start looking for successes, be it teachers, students, parents, administrators, and investigating the why’s and how’s of those successes we will only hear about failures and continue to have more failures.

      My best guess is that Mr. French can’t even define what success is for any part of the education system. He doesn’t offer a description of what a new teacher’s success would look like. I would offer that the colleges/universities don’t know what a new teacher’s success should look like otherwise I would expect that they would be including that in the preparation they are providing for their teaching students.

      1. ron

        Duane, there are examples of success in this article as well as positive suggestions. The point of the article was to point out flaws and problems in beginning teacher development and retention. Unfortunately the statistics tell a negative story and hence the need for this discussion.

        1. Duane

          Ron,

          There is a difference between mentioning a success and actually providing examples of a success. Providing an example should include some information that describes what made the case a success. Referencing a success is simply saying something was a success and not providing any information about the success.

          Even the presumption of the article is not proven, for it infers that new teachers are detrimental to the education of the students. I would offer that there are rookie teachers that are more effective in getting students to learn that many teachers that have been in the profession 10, 20, 30 years. Unless there are some description of reasons why a rookie teacher is deterimental to the students vs. veteran teachers then is little reason to be concerned about the turnover. If in may district such as ones in my community the dwindling number of students is making more veteran teachers available.

          1. ron

            Duane,
            The presumption of this article is not unfounded. There is a lot of research out there that shows most teachers do not reach their prime until year five. I have attached a few links to articles that discuss or at least mention this.

            http://tntp.org/assets/documents/TNTP_FactSheet_TeacherExperience_2012.pdf
            http://www.urban.org/uploadedpdf/1001455-impact-teacher-experience.pdf
            http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/dec10/vol68/num04/Good-Teachers-May-Not-Fit-the-Mold.aspxhttps://docs.gatesfoundation.org/Documents/best-practices-teach-effectiveness.pdf

            Are there veterans out there who are terrible? Absolutely. Should they be protected? No, but most aren’t (contrary to popular belief). The problem is leadership lacking the time, ability or desire to evaluate and releaser challenge those who are less effective. But any one who has taught in a classroom (and I am one of them) will tell you that it took them at least 3 years to get their feet under them.

  2. Jake

    Because parents are providing the schools with students who are not willing to learn. Teaching a majority of these fools isn’t worth the time and emotional investment of a teacher. If the parents don’t care enough, why should teachers?

  3. RJ Casey

    There is even more “churning” that’s driving teachers out of the field. Here in Detroit, once schools began to close, experienced teachers have been laid off, many called back to a different school; laid off again, called back to a different school; laid off again, called back to a different school . . . . This is absolute insanity in educational policy: Bad for teachers, and terrible for children, for families, and for having anything that resembles a functioning, coherent school. Top this off with incessant criticism, and blame for the failure of students who you did not teach. It’s no wonder that teachers are leaving the profession and few are entering to stay the long term.

    1. Jim

      You are absolutely correct. Michigan teachers are laid of faster than I run a .2K. Ridiculous.

  4. ron

    No one ever responds to my comments ,but I don’t plan to give up. This is a societal issue, and our society doesn’t have all of it’s priorities in order. Funding is rediculious, and getting worse. Quit beating up the teachers because they don’t do enough work hard enough, are overpaid, and get all summer off. Pay a starting living wage and you will get more people to apply and stay. Hold the parents accountable. Reassess the graduation requirements. Not all kids NEED 4 years of the type of math required,,Foreign Language,, Chemistry, or Physics,,on line classes,, .etc. Compare all professions starting pay and then look at teacher pay and the contributions they make in what they must pay for and you tell me who is drawn to that as a career and stays with it.

    1. lisann

      ron,
      I’ll reply. I have a good friend who is a teacher. Some teachers, like her, do not make a good earning for all the hard the work they do. Then, there are others (in certain school districts) who make pretty good money. Being a social worker, I empathize. We influence and make important decisions about childrens’ and adults’ lives . Oh well, we did not go into it “for the money,” of course, but some is good!

    2. Cathy

      I agree with what you have said. It starts with the parents. Today they do not parent their kids, but let them run wild and blame someone else when they turn out bad. There is no more teaching responsibility, it’s someone else’s fault. No one holds them accountable for not being there for their kids or the kids for not doing as they should. Teachers are disrespected by everyone when they only try to do their job. Why would anyone want to become a teacher in todays society?

    3. Duane

      Ron,

      You seem to want to spend more of other people’s money and yet it doesn’t appear you care enough about whether that money is waste or not. You want to pay teachers on par with other professionals and yet you don’t seem to show any interest in holding the teachers to similar expectations such as knowledge and skills preparation, work/performance expectations, organizational results.

      Why should we spend more and more money on a system and the people in the system when they are unwilling or unable to describe what success is, why it is, how it is achieved, what they are doing to achieve that success, and how they should be held accountable for achieving it? Do you think that the sole answer to achieving that success is simply giving it more and more money to do what it has been doing and disregard results?

      Rather than be concerned about a living wage, it may be better to ask what are those people in other professions doing to earn the wage you feel is that standards the teachers should be paid. It maybe you should be asking how and why the employers of these other professions are succeeding and how and why they are succeeding and why they are willing to pay those wages.

      Do you think the employers would be hiring engineers or accountants from MSU or, U/M at their current salaries if those people were prepared and performing at the same level the teaching graduates are?
      Or do you think the employers of those professions would be going to other colleges/universities even ones outside of the state to hire those professionals?

      1. Kathryn

        You forgot an important factor. Teachers are paid out of tax dollars. The employers of other professions are willing to pay more, because they have more to pay.

        1. Duane

          Kathryn,

          I disagree.

          Employers (private companies) don’t pay more not because they can, they pay more because they get more than what they pay. Employers pay for resutls/for value. If employees don;t deliver value to the customers the employer goes out of business. No matter how poorly kids learn or don;t learn in school the schools will still be there and they will employe teachers and staff.

          What needs to be decided on is what is success for our schools and how do we measure what is being done is providing necessary value to achieve that success.

          As best I can tell, nobody in our educational system even knows what success looks like so they can’t describe to anyone else including the teachers. How can we expect the teachers or the system to provide value to the students and the community? If we can’t expect success from our educators why should we spend more and more money on them. When businesses spend more money then people are willing to pay for those businesses go under and are replaced by others who are delieverying the value people want. Are the schools providing the value we are paying for? Why should we keep paying if they aren’t?

      2. Krista

        I am a sixth year teacher in the state of Michigan, and the college program I went through is said to be one of the best in the state. In addition, the requirements for teacher certification in Michigan are at a higher standard when compared with most of the country. However, I feel like I graduated college with a piece of paper and a few online planning resources. Otherwise, college was a waste of money. As stated in the article, it should be a requirement that any person interested in pursuing an education degree must spend their first semester of college in the classroom. If I had done this, I probably would have chosen a different profession. New teachers are most certainly not prepared to enter a classroom, especially in a poverty stricken area, with the classroom management skills and ability to differentiate learning in order to reach a classroom of 30 kids with different academic and emotional needs.

        Moreover, how can you say that money is just being thrown at the problem. All I ever hear about are budget cuts, and worrying about being laid off. I work 8-9 hours a day at the school, bring work home almost daily, and do my lesson planning for 3-4 hours on Sundays. I buy supplies for my classroom, incentives for my students, and pay for or create everything that hangs on the wall in my room. This is all on my $35,000 a year salary. I’ve never heard of an engineer having to take work home almost everyday of the week, buying supplies for his office, or incentives to get his co-workers to perform and behave themselves. If engineers and other professionals had to do these things, well, they can afford to being that they aren’t paid with tax dollars. Nearly all wage earners with a professional degree start at a higher salary and advance at a much faster pace than teachers.

        Several factors impact a new teacher’s decision to stay in the field including wage, lack of training and support, and general abuse and harassment from a society where most people could not endure a day alone in the classroom. The same goes for students. How can teachers or students be successful when expected to teach 30 different kids, all with different learning styles and academic abilities, and all sitting in the same room? You have outside factors such as poverty levels, parents education and involvement, disabilities, and minor things such as how much sleep did they get the night before? Until an engineer has to tie his coworkers shoes, wipe their noses, hold them when they get upset, and all while teaching them how to learn about the world around them, I would prefer that you not compare my profession with that of an engineer or other professionals as if I don’t earn the 1/3 of their annual salaries.

        1. Duane

          Krista,

          I apologize if I have some how offended you by put teachers in the same catagory as other professionals such as engineers. I see teaching as a profession similar to engineering, accountanting, and others.

          I would offer that those in other professions rather then assume their employers understand the value they provide they working wih their employers developed the means of demostrating the value of what they did in parts and the whole. They develop metrics that their audiences (employers) related to. When those in the education profession were ask to contribute to the development of such measures they were against them. They put up barriers to the implementation value measures. As best I can tell the education professional did want to help their employers/those paying them to better understand the value for the tax dollars.

          Rather than trying to show personal difference between professions it might be to the education profession to try to learn from those other professions.

          As for the tying of shoes and such. I have seen a manufacturing engineer do much of what you describe, though probably not anywhere near as frequenctly. Helping coworkers don safety gear, including the tying of boots or sleeves, getting into a cold shower to help a coworker clear off contamination, help a coworker through a stressful situation, there are many personal actions they they have to take, while they are teaching new means and methods, and new technology to people who both have doubts about their ability to learn it and fear that it will affect their livelihoods.

          I hope you don’t think I am disparaging the educational profession, being a product of and how children that are products of it I fully appreciate that is a profession like any other. However, I question the educational professions view of others and what they may learn from other professions. I wonder if you or others in your profession have ever taken the time or even considered seeking people in other professions and discussed with them you issues asking what similar experiences they may and how they have addressed them. I mention creating value metrics, there maybe others such as how to work with the public on controversial issue and drawing them into be part of the solution. I hope you realize that those people in the other professions never have enough money for what they are expected to do, the always have to be asking/demonstrating the return for that money, proving their worth, introducing/training others, changing how others acted and perform, etc. I suspect there is much other profession can learn from the education professionals, it is disappoint there isn’t more interactions between them.

          1. Rob

            Duane, you said ” suspect there is much other profession can learn from the education professionals, it is disappoint there isn’t more interactions between them.” I have to point out that all other professions were taught by teachers and they would not be where they are without teachers. So, saying that teachers have to show value is ludicrous. This country wouldn’t be where it is without teachers.

    4. Curt

      I Agree! Core curriculum does not apply to all kids! The state tells the schools exactly what they can teach! If the school deviates from this they will cut there funding! And it’s not just what to teach but the method of teaching! Not all kids learn in the same manner! I have one kid that does well with book work instruction, my other kid does well with hands on. The teachers are not allowed to deviate from the curriculum in any shape or form! New teachers come in and have a difficult time adapting to this concept because it goes against there need to educate by whatever means necessary! If they don’t the school see’s them as outsiders.
      In the early years of school, the kids are not getting the foundation of learning (1) Times Tables is the key to math success (2) the kids are not being taught how to study/learn,time management. So when they get into higher classes they struggle! My opinion on this system is that it is designed by local government agencies, Local community collages have an influence on what is being taught at the high school level in a district area! Reason being if the kids get the education at a high school level, the the community collages don’t have anything to teach besides implementing what has been learned into real life work situations. I don’t have a collage degree and I see these kids come directly out of college book smarter than shit, but they have no idea how to work! In regards to teacher pay! they deserve it! They have to put up with the kids with parents that don’t care and a system they have to fight.

    5. Nina Seifert Bishop

      I would add to your comment, Ron, that teachers have been given a new and untried curriculum; Common Core. They have not had ample training time to perfect a possibly flawed new curriculum. Very little thought went into the curriculum before it was rolled out to students and teachers.

      To ‘Jake’ who said children are not willing to learn. That’s a very general statement. Are you a teacher? You forget that our students have already had a dozen years of the failed No Child Left Behind which left all children behind with it’s scripted boring material. No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top and now Common Core do not afford teachers any autonomy in their classrooms to make learning interesting. It’s been dry as toast for over a dozen years. These kids have been tested and assessed to death and now there are even more tests rolling out. They get classroom curriculum testing, district testing several times a year with several different kinds of tests, there’s the annual state assessment and the nations report card; the NAEP. I challenge anyone of you to go to work every day to constant scrutiny and see how you hold up. Our students and teachers are under tremendous pressure to become perfect. No one is and the mere term ‘standard’ is ridiculous since every single human on this planet is unique.

      Government and corporate privateers need to get out of education and allow each state to run its schools which, BTW, is what’s supposed to happen according to the US Constitution. How can the federal government; people who are out of touch with the average American, possibly know what works for every area of the United States? What works for the citizens of Maine may not be appropriate for the citizens of Hawaii. Also, you get what you pay for. Give our teachers a little respect and a living wage.

      There’s nothing wrong with our public school system except funding and the mind set that children are widgets in a factory assembly line. Schools in affluent areas do not need as much funding as schools in low income areas where they need more teachers, more technology and a host of other things. We are a multicultural society and there are many parents who do not speak English and cannot help their students with school work. We have poor families where parents work two or three jobs and leave the younger children with the older children causing them to miss school. In low income areas there are more sick children, hungry children and children living in domestic violence. There are so many variables which affect learning but our government wants everyone to think the answer is mechanization and assembly line learning.

      We don’t have to scrap the system; we just need to tweak it. Education was conceived in the Age of Enlightenment, put in motion during the Industrial Age but we now live in the Information Technology Age. What Arne Duncan, Obama, GW Bush and brother Jeb need to learn is there are some things that can’t be run like a company. Education requires a very highly skilled person who can handle everything from professorship to parenting and from opening minds to applying band aids and hugs. It can’t be run like a business with a handbook. Every child is different and the whole concept of standardization is absurd.

  5. Dr. Nick Fleezanis

    The state has given teachers a bad name and their unions. Politicians are trying to destroy the credibility of teachers and the power of their unions to elect legislators who want to enhance education. So now you have a gaggle of politicians in Lansing who only favor big business and the children of Michigan suffer. Teachers have lost income and benefits and are forced to teach students from families who could care less about education. It is an impossible situation! And then you wonder why teachers don’t last in the classroom. Someone in Lansing better wake-up to the fact that education is the crucial element in bringing this state back. A well educated and trained workforce is the answer, and all we are doing is turning out idiots who can’t read, think, solve problems, or even care about the state of the economy!

    1. Duane

      Dr. Fleesanis,

      There is no question that learning is a most critical factor in a child future and our socieities future, but unless people begin to look at the whole system of learning and stop ignoring the most important element of it our system will continue to fail.

      Rather then worrying about what teacher are paid, what the union status is, what the legislators think, when are you going to wake up to see that it is the students that determine whether they learn or don’t learn? Have you ever taken the time to ask a successful student why and how they became successful? Have you ever consider why a child of poverty, of a single illiterate parent can learn in the Detroit school system, succeeds academically and socially?

      The situation isn’t impossible otherwise none of the students coming out of our system would be able to succeed both academically and socially. Until we define what success is, how it is achieved, why it is achieved, and have the metrics that measure the efforts being used to achieve it we will not be successful. For until we hold what and how we do this accountable (determine what is working or not and why) we will never change the results we are getting.

      1. teacher

        Duane,
        There are successful models of education. When you look into them, they do exactly the opposite of what you suggest. They don’t prescribe success, they trust their professionals. They don’t obsess with accountability, they trust the professionals. They don’t try to undermine what professional recommend about class size and instructional times, they trust the professionals. The problem is that your ilk with political power dismiss the research because it was done on foreign soil, where professionalism holds onto its meaning, and then restrict the professionals here from doing meaningful work because it is too expensive and outside of what worked in our historic factory model schools. Look into Rick Wormelli, Pasi Sahlberg or Ken Robinson.

        1. Duane

          teacher,

          I apologize for not being clear, I did not say prescribe success I suggest that describing what other student’s successes look like. In my limited experience, it is not uncommon that people/students have a unique set of experiences that may not include what success may look like, the results, the how, and why it was achieved. Many times by sharing what others’ successes look like people/students have new ways to look at how they might do things to achieve their own success.

          With regard to accountability, many people want that to mean personal blame. When I speak of accountability I am talking about finding what works and then determining why, or what isn’t working and figuring out how to change it so it will work. What is commonly found is that when programs/protocols/activities are not held accountable in this manner they tend to drift in to ineffectiveness. If there is not interest in accountability, then there is unlikely to be any measure of those things being done, and if there is no tracking then there is no reason those activities and methods not to drift due to everyday distractions.

          I raised the point in my comments about talking to the students about how and why they learned, I noticed you ignored this in your note. May I ask why?

          1. JC

            Well written article and (mostly) thoughtful comments. See Diane Ratitch’s blog or her new book for more discussion. Her book title is Reign of Error, The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to Public Education.

  6. Linda

    Michigan offered a buyout and experienced teachers retired. Schools offer buyouts so they don’t have to pay unemployment and save money, more experienced teachers leave. So many experienced teachers have retired they aren’t any to help the young teachers.
    I also experienced a lot of bad attitudes in some newer teachers. They are cocky and feel like they know more because they just graduated with college. They don’t want to take the advice offered to them, until it is too late and they are ready to crash and burn.

  7. Joe May

    Michigan’s public schools are dying the death of one thousand cuts. Thank you, GOP. Your charter schools and virtual classrooms, your weakening of teacher unions, your privatization patterns where lowest bidder wins, all will guarantee that by 2020, our state will have permanently lost its place as one of the top states for quality education. Nice work.

  8. Mary

    This is a great article and really elucidates the problem of teacher churn. Arellano’s description is right on. I worked in Detroit for 19 years and most of it was grueling not because of students but because of systemic dysfunction that stood in the way of my development as a teaching professional. I did become a National Board certified teacher but only because I was determined to connect what I learned to what I was doing. The problem with teacher education programs in Michigan is that they do not connect what is being learned with what teachers will actually have to do. More time in the classroom as a “resident” teacher would be imperative but this would require shifts in the way we think about K-12 education.

  9. christine

    I got my teacher preparation in Michigan. I had to know how to write and impliment a lesson plan inside and out and had to student teach along side a teacher that had many years of experience for two years before they would even allow me into the teacher certification program. There was norhing easy about working towards certification. I very, very prepared to go into the classroom because of all the fieldwork which was required. I wish my experience
    could have been a little easier as this article speaks of.I had to work my tail end off.

    1. Dan

      Christine,

      While I have great respect for the amount of work and money that goes into a teaching degree and surviving in the teaching profession, I can’t help thinking, while reading your response, that your writing skills are an example of why the public has negative images of the teaching profession. Spelling, sentence and paragraph structure, and proofreading should be areas of excellence for all professionals, but especially teachers. Sadly, too many teachers are miserably equipped in these areas, and they model these deficiencies in the classroom every day.

  10. Chuck Jordan

    There are so many mixed messages nationally about teachers and experience. North Carolina just stopped paying teachers more for having a masters. Teach for America advocates argue that experience isn’t needed at all. Other groups have argued that experience is not beneficial after 5 years. The debate over education reminds me a lot of arguments surrounding the shut down and who to blame. Somehow in both debates people are going to have to work together, even though that seems impossible.

    One big difference I see today is that teachers are expected to manage their classrooms with little help from principals and sometimes parents. Once a upon a time if a teacher sent a student to the principal’s office the student either came back at least a little less inclined to cause trouble or not at all. Today the student comes back with a smirk on his/her face saying, “see, you can’t do nothing to me.” If there are classes with several unmanageable students, then the teacher is powerless. Classes today also include many more students with special needs. This situation also limits the teacher’s ability to teach. Many experienced teachers can surmount these obstacles, but not as much as we would like to think. New teachers on their own are hopeless and it’s not their fault. No wonder they leave.

  11. Mr heat and cool

    Politics aside, it is imparative that we get back to basics and set simple reading and writing and math at the basic level. And then teach good ethics along the way. Home schooling is becoming more popular due to the lack of erhics in the public schools.

  12. Brendan Walsh

    I’m sure those closest to the operations of school systems in Michigan are not surprised by these statistics. K-12 teaching jobs in Michigan have been in steady decline for a decade. With “last in – first out” employee retention policy, of course you will see a high wash out rate in those first four years.

    I also wonder what the career change statistics are for other industries. Teacher churn may be high, but do we know if it is truly that much higher than other industries? That does not diminish the problem the churn uniquely creates in K-12, but certainly a factor in analyzing the issue.

    Brendan

  13. Scott

    Those who can’t do teach..Those who can’t teach administrate. Behind every failing school is a failing administration.

  14. Teacher

    I am a teacher with 29 years of experience in elementary grades. Next school year will be my last year as I will retire with 30 years and 2 months of experience. I had no immediate plans to retire in 2015 but after all the changes and the amount of work that was shoved upon the teachers in my school I decided I had enough. I would spend 8 hours at work arriving at 7:30, working through lunch, and sometimes staying past the required 2:40 till 4 or 5 then going home to work another 4 or 5 hours at home. I love teaching but not under these conditions. Curriculum changes, teacher evaluation changes, and changes in standards all implemented the same year … ? In my school we also had a QR (quality review) in November where every aspect of the school was placed under a microscope. Thankfully for us, the teachers rallied together … going in early, staying late, texting and calling each other from home, sharing ideas and materials so that our school was deemed proficient. What thanks did we receive? A reprimand …telling us all the areas we fell short in and that we needed to be on our guards because administration would be policing to see that we are working.

    I can’t wait for retirement day and many of my colleagues wish they could leave with me. I will be pursuing a grant writing career as I will only be 56 at retirement and have much more to give.

    I believe the entire system is broken and needs to be evaluated and developed from the ground up… by whom…that is the million dollar question.

    AND… don’t leave those parents out… the ones who don’t give a ( you know what) about their child’s education – even the ones in kindergarten.

    Hats off to teachers, administrators, support staff, and parents who try everyday to make a difference in a child’s education. I wish you the best in the years to come.

  15. Jerry

    My 45 year old friend resigned her teaching position in June after investing 20 years in the career she loved. Her tale is just like “teacher” After 6 months her health and appearance are much improved. Working only 48 hours per week works wonders and she will have a paid vacation next summer. Teaching conditions here in Wisconsin are at an all time low.

  16. butrosmac

    At “Teacher” … and there you have it at 56 you will retire. Ask those in other fields if they are able to retire at 56. Also, you mentioned you mention finally you will get a paid vacation. Im pretty sure yor district is like most and get summers off. Plus you have long inter and spring breaks. Newsflash, many other professions require you to work long hours and with the advalent of technology, extends your work load at home and weekends. If you don’t perform you get fired. Even when you do perform, guess what? You can still get fired. No unions to save you, at will employees. No pension. You got to deal with micromanaging, potential mergers, layoffs without no pay. I’m 55, and would love to go back and teach. I have an ex-co worrker friend who six tlyears ago at age 39, went back got teaching requirements. And says its not only very rewarding from a personal gratification standpoint but from a much less stress standpoint. And while the pay was about $10,000 less, they made it u with coaching which they love and drivers ed, plus the pension and good health benefits and got to spend more time with their kids cause they had the same days off and spend their summers at their family members cottage. Their only regret, that they didn’t do it sooner as their pay and pension would of been much higher. To those who mentioned about engineers and other professionals. Well, I’m not an engineer but looking at their curriculumn, I could never handle those classes. When I lok at the teachincing cirriculumn, not a problem. But I do agree that either colleges need to teach more real hands on class management or have a new teacher acclimation program in place. Just throwing more money at proboems or pay does not always or at least doesnt seem to help. In Finland, the teachers get paid the eqiuvalent of 35 to 40 thousand U.S. dollars, however only the top 10% graduates get to become teachers and thats why they get treated with more respect their. Here in the U.S. it seems like teaching for many (not all) is like a way to get the best job with the simplest degree.

  17. monicateach

    To butrosmac. I am not going to bash you for your mispellings, etc. I am sure they are typos on getting a quick reply on your iphone or device. But some of us could of gone into other fields. I am a high school physics teacher and went into this for first my passion for teaching and second my love for science. But I admit one of the other reasons were job flexibility with having kids and raising a family. And also not having to deal with the corporate grind. I cannot complain. Here in Michigan, I make ennough along with my teacher husband to have a home, a cottage with boats, and getting ready to buy a small mobile home in Florida and will be reay to retire comfortably in about 3 years at age 62. I feel gratified that I have helped taught and mentored some of my students who went on to become engineers, scientists, do tors etc. I make no excuses or regrets that teaching has been a great profession for us. I will acknowledge that there are many teachers and administrators who should not be in this profession. I also beleive and I may get flack from other teachers, but I feel in order to get better teachers, they should get paid more on the basis of schooling, subject proficciency and results. Also not all teachers should get paid the same. I have a masters in sciencee on top of my teaching degrees and certificate yet I basicaly get paid the same as a PE aka gym teacher or kindergarten teacher. Whle I wont argue the importance of each, there is a very good possibility that they could not gain the credentials I have and teach my classes. On the otherhand, I could easily obtain their credentials and proficiently teach their classes. If we want the best and brightest like in Finland (Which would mean perhaps at least half our teachers would notbqualify to teach), to teach our classes then we should structure our pay accordingly. I expect flack back from other teachers and realize that early childhood teaching is important, it still should as in the private sector, be based on supply and demand, meaning their are a lot morevearly education majors vs those teaching advanced math and science courses. Just like it is easier to become a nurse than a doctor. Both important but not equal on average of schooling, time and intellectual ability.

  18. butrosmac

    To teacher Monica. Thanks I won’t bash u 4 your nispellings either. I did not mean and thought I Said not all teachers. I do agree with yur points on higher pay for higher learning and subject matter and finfld it refreshing that you actually happy with your pay and lifestyle instead of whining. As a side note, while I think some of my big three union friends also wbine ridiculously about their jobs , I notice only my teacher friends put up propaganda posts on their faceboks that show up on my news page about whining abut teachers underpaid and overworked and also anti usually republican rhetric about education. No other professions do this suggest find a more professional metbod as it just puts people of, especially in the summer as you are deciding where to go up north, threeweek road trips or overseas adventure. While the rest of us cant even risk taking a sick day or we might get let go. They forget not all of us who are not teachers who have bachelors and masters do not make any more or much more than they do. Brother n law 37, masters in architecture only makes 52,0000 no pension, no summers off 12 hour days while some teachers are making 65,000 or more.

  19. Greg Gunner

    The main problem with education today is that everyone except teacher’s is making the decisions about what to teach, how to teach, and how to measure what has been taught. I’ve been teaching for 40 years, but the politicians and career administrators and university personnel with very little classroom teaching experience are making all the decisions.

    If other professions were evaluated in the same way that teachers are being evaluated, doctors would be fired if they can’t cure your stage 4 cancer, lawyers would lose their license when they lost a case, mechanics would be fired when a car broke down, businessmen would be fired when the economy took a nosedive, etc. It’s time to quit the blame game and join together with our teachers to create the best conditions for student success. Our children deserve no less.

    If you want to improve education, you would do well to replace large numbers of politicians, not our most experienced and dedicated teachers.

  20. Pete

    What a bunch of whiners. This is generally the same in any job, it is what you make out of it. Some pass and some fail. Imagine that, there truly are winners and losers. I hope they gave you your Certificate of Participation.

  21. teachertoo

    I currently teach middle school 8th grade in Michigan. I’ll not reveal where, but it’s a pretty rough area. I have students who wear tethers on their ankles, belong to gangs, I get called plenty of swear words daily, and have even had my life threatened…recently. That’s just this year. I continue to show up, but I’ll be honest. If I were offered a position outside of teaching for the same salary, I’d take it. I feel like the years that I spent studying at college to become a teacher have been wasted, and my motivations to teach have been flattened by emotional, verbal and now threatened physical abuse. I don’t care how much money you throw at this problem, nothing is going to change until we are able to teach in safe schools where learning is a priority. I honestly don’t blame teachers who leave the profession. The earlier, the better…it’s not worth it anymore.

  22. Spock

    It’s time to start the virtual classroom. Leave the children at home and let them learn from their computers or tv’s. Put the teacher on a big screen and do their thing. Let them do what they love and feel they are good at it. Let the parents worry about discipline and social skills. I’ll bet the education system will change, fast. Isn’t this where education is headed, anyway? Give the student a flash drive from kindergarten to grade 12. As online education is becoming more and more prevalent and Wall Street is getting in on privatization of schools, we are prolonging the inevitable.

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