Teacher Dropouts

From the November 2005 Trumpet Print Edition

Communities, schools and families work hard to limit school dropout rates. Meanwhile a more damaging dropout rate is rising—that of teachers.

A recent study shows 40 percent of public school teachers in the United States will retire within the next five years. According to the National Center for Education, this rate is greater among high school teachers.

Granted, over a third of teachers are 50 or older, but many admit that they had more in mind than age when making their decisions. The three next most common reasons include low pay, administrative hassles and classroom management issues.

A couple of these reasons are nothing new. Teaching has always been a low-paying profession. Most teachers recognize this fact and accept it before they take their job—forgoing big money in favor of giving back to the community. Administrative hassles, though distracting and frustrating, also come with the territory and are common in other professions as well.

What isn’t common in other professions is teenagers flinging verbal abuse and threats to 50-year-olds. Increasingly, “classroom management issues” are a big factor in hastening the expiration of many teachers’ careers.

In a survey taken in Texas, an inability to establish discipline in the classroom was cited as a major reason why 45 percent of the teachers are considering quitting (Austin Chronicle, August 12). Teachers are tired of dealing with problem children, especially when increasingly strict legal considerations tie their hands in handling the situations.

England paints an equally bleak picture, with more and more teachers there even fearing for their lives. According to the Times Educational Supplement, every nine minutes a teacher in England is verbally abused or physically assaulted. Classroom violence has become so problematic that schools are offering training programs to deal with it.

Struggles with classroom discipline—not to mention an increasing fear of students—no doubt are a major factor causing many teachers to leave school behind. This is a clear illustration of Isaiah’s prophecy: “as for my people, children are their oppressors.” As long as the modern nations of Israel continue to disobey God, teaching—the profession with perhaps the most adult-child interaction—will be more intimidating, stressful and, overall, more appealing to leave.