Writing at the Huffington Post, Brandon Greene says we have been eager to launch policy at educators, but we have not been eager to collaborate with or support them.
If teachers are our number one resource, why do we treat them so poorly? It goes without saying that teachers are under a tremendous amount of stress in today’s educational landscape. The rhetoric of the day paints teachers as privileged, whiny, and entitled. Reports are put forth that place not only the future of our country’s economy on the shoulders of educators but also our national security. We hear a lot of talk about how teachers’ unions and tenure are to blame for the country’s educational woes. We hear that, if teachers want to be treated like professionals, they need to act like and be held accountable like professionals. What we don’t often hear, however, is how we need to support teachers. The question is, why?
We know that there is currently a deficit, not a surplus, of teachers. Districts across the country are continuously facing staffing shortages, even with the influx of teachers acquired through alternative licensure programs like Teach for America, The New Teacher Project and others. While there are some who believe that the continued infusion of “new blood” into the teaching profession is good, the rate of turnover in our schools is neither sustainable nor conducive for the learning environments our students need. Of course, there is no doubt that there are some teachers who are ineffective and perhaps should look for careers in fields that may better fit their talents. However, there is also no doubt that, due to the stress, strain, vitriol and “success-or-apocalypse” pressure placed on educators, many of them are leaving the profession within the five years it takes to fully hit their stride.
Even those teachers who would have been the most effective and those teachers who dreamed of being teachers are leaving the profession. Why aren’t we capturing this lost potential?