Friday, March 27, 2009

The Retention Myth

I think a quick note is in order on the EdWeek Article on the Ingersoll and Perda research suggesting that we are producing plenty of math and science teachers and all we need to do is just retain them and we are set.

The facts are probably correct – though dated – that we produce 2X as many math and science teachers than retire. Thus, retention is the solution. Woohoo - problem solved.

But that ignores the societal reality that we are all job nomads now. We wander from career oasis to career oasis hoping for something better - never settling at one job for more than few years.

I regret to say that I don’t think that education will be the one career that is immune to this current reality. Labor statistics say that 18 to 40 year olds will have 11 job changes of which half will be total career changes.

Now we certainly can do more to retain better teachers through better working conditions, better professional development to help them deal with so many students on so many different levels and career ladders to increase job satisfaction.

But to make the naïve claim that the math and science teacher shortage will magically disappear if everyone sticks around to retirement is to ignore the current reality

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