NY Times: Report Envisions Teacher Shortage Looming

A bit of cheery news appeared in yesterday's NY Times. According to the article, the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future projects that a third of America's 3.2 million teachers could retire over the next year. Exacerbating the problem is the high turnover rate of new teachers. Presenting a less than "half glass full" scenario, the report says “The traditional teaching career is collapsing at both ends." While some of the experts interviewed by the Times seem to think the commission is being a bit too Chicken Little, it seems to be an inevitable event given the aging of the Baby Boomers who make up a considerable percentage of the teaching work force.

The commission's plan seems focused on keeping older teachers around longer, partly by changing the pension system. While this should probably be one part of any solution, helping teachers at the other end of the career arc seems to be a more sensible, long-term plan. Luckily Obama seems committed to recruiting more young, qualified people to the profession. The "how" of this plan, is essential of course.

Better pay, better training and more consistent support during the first five years of teaching during which 1/3 of new teachers currently quit, are all vital components to strengthening the profession for the long haul. Everyone seems to agree on these general principles, unfortunately it remains to be seen what form the practical implementation will take. If the commission's report is to be believed, some sort of action toward these changes needs to happen soon, before the current American education crisis turns into an all out catastrophe.


jonathan said…
In New York, the numbers do not favor hiring in the same way. We have many fewer teachers ready to retire.

However, the 1/3 before 5 years number seems low. There are more openings because beginning teachers don't stay.

It would be a much better thing if more young teachers stuck with it. And then, mentoring, yes, but also better conditions, relief from paperwork, endless test-prep, nasty admins, &c, all those would go a long way towards stabilizing our teaching corps.

Jonathan jd2718

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