According to a recent United Federation of Teachers (UFT) article
Despite a recent contract that boosted earnings, nearly 1,500 more teachers resigned than retired during the 2014–15 school year. For many years, retirement was the biggest reason for departures but now the trend has reversed. The number of regular resignations (excluding departures due to disability, discipline, licensing problems or denial of tenure) has outpaced retirements for four years in a row, with the gap growing wider each year. http://www.uft.org/news-
These are teachers saying "ENOUGH!". I am surprised the UFT would print such facts because the question arises - Where's their union? Why have working conditions gotten so bad, despite increases in pay, that massive numbers of teacher flee the classroom anyway?
The daily reality of teachers in the classroom in the tough schools explains the situation.
The no cell phone policy in the classroom is unenforceable. We have tried it year after year at Murry Bergtraum High School, with names of violators submitted to the administration and nothing happens. Add social promotion to that and pressure on teachers to improve their passing rates and you have a cocktail for disaster.
The students know their teachers will pass them regardless. All they have to do is show up a couple of days a week and do some extra-credit packets. The homes of high social need students are AWOL. We don't see these parents on open school night nor get return phone calls. I am not against social promotion. I am against the administration ignoring its impact on students and how we deal with it in the classroom. Instead, the affects are just used against teachers. It's complicated. By senior year we have a lot of students with the credits but cannot pass the Regents.
I am for students having the phones, but how can a school teach children the discipline to turn their phones off, after constantly directing students to do so? It's apparent compulsive cell phone use is taking its toll. (Compulsive Texting Takes Toll on Teenagers, NY Times) But, try and enforce a no-cellphone policy in the classroom with emotionally needy children is another story. We had a teacher threatened by a student last year merely for reporting to the administration of the cell phone abuse with a recommendation for confiscation.
Yet, the teacher is the scapegoat. Compliance Clerks (principals) come to rate targeted teachers ineffective in high need schools using the same evaluation rubric (Danielson) as used in the elite schools like Stuyvesant and Brooklyn Tech (where De Blasio sends his son) where the expectations of student performance are the same, regardless of student background.
I have taught at Bergtraum in the 1980s-90's (its heyday) and today. I have taught in the affluent suburbs as well. Teaching to students ready to learn with the requisite emotional, social and academic skills is like gliding on ice compared to wresting with students for 5 minutes of attention span. There are a handful of students in each class that are prepared to learn and make the most of the opportunities afforded them. However, there's another, critical mass of students that are victims of the Bloomberg / Klein failed educational experiment, that has been extended under Chancellor Carmen Farina, and the affects of poverty that negatively impact school readiness.
Some critics argue that making teaching a temporary job helps pave the way for privatization by dramatically reducing costs. This would explain a lot. Take into account a new teacher pays the same dues as a senior teacher and even the UFT then has an incentive for teacher turnover. One senior teacher who quits can be replaced by two new teachers, doubling the union's intake of dues. This may have profound consequences in a post-Friedrichs (Supreme Court Case that threatens automatic dues payments) http://www.
scotusblog.com/2016/01/union- fees-in-jeopardy-in-plain- english/ world. Will the vanishing senior teachers be more likely to continue dues payments than new teachers? Especially as new teachers are at-will employees who reach out to a union that only shrugs when they are let go.
Fundamental changes are in order to protect public education and the children it serves. The children of elites at the specialized schools are largely shielded via their selective admissions process. The vast majority of families in the system are not. The students need experienced teachers and wrap around services, not a feel bad environment of "accountability" run amok. Bully principals with type A personalities focused on career mobility in a high stakes numbers racket for promotion turn schools into slaughter houses of educational and professional potential. No wonder so many teachers are jumping ship. The young teachers see what happens to senior colleagues and are reading the writing on the wall- there's no tenure or future for you here. The families of students and teaching profession have a shared interest to stop this.