3.3 Retain Teachers
In today’s America, most people are career-changers, and this includes teachers. On average, pre-retirement turnover among teachers, about 6%, is about the same as most employment.
As always, averages conceal variations. Turnover tends to be much higher than average in high-poverty and high-minority schools where working conditions for teachers tend to be worst. Nationally, about half of teachers depart the profession within five years.
To make matters worse, as teachers of the Baby Boom generation began to reach retirement age, the structure of the California state teacher retirement pension system has been designed to create strong disincentives for teachers to work more than 37 years in the system.
Clearly, it is bad for kids when great teachers depart the profession. Reducing turnover for its own sake, however, is not the point. Not all experienced teachers are equally effective with students. In 2011, a wave of seniority-determined layoffs brought the issue of teacher retention into a new focus, a topic that is discussed further in Ed100 primer 3.10 Tenure and Seniority.