Early Ed Watch

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My Thoughts on Compensation and Teacher Retention

Published:  December 9, 2011

On Wednesday, Slate Magazine published a commentary I wrote on teacher pay and why it’s not the biggest factor in teacher retention on its XXfactor blog. My piece was in response to both the recent Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute report concluding teachers are paid amply as well as the ensuing criticism from the education community.

After teaching for four years in Florida, I left the classroom, and it had nothing to do with my salary.

I explain: "Factors that impelled me to leave: Inadequate preparation and poor quality professional development; lack of feedback on what I was doing well and where I could improve; meager time to plan and collaborate with fellow teachers; limited access to important data about students; and no foreseeable paths for career advancement. Other teachers agree."

I point out some promising initiatives underway aiming to address these and other issues. Until policymakers address these factors and make good on these initiatives, schools will continue to be revolving doors for new teachers.

I do believe that wages should be competitive and comparable to other professions. In many cases, starting salaries are comparable; it’s the end-of-career figures (after 30 years of teaching) that are truly lacking.

But for more teachers to reach that 30-year benchmark, the deeper reasons teachers flee the profession must be tackled.

Read my entire piece here.

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