Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Pretty interesting day for education in the press as they are finally breaking the story that I broke on March 20, 2009 about the pending “tsunami” of teacher retirements. USA Today has a piece about it quoting Tom Carroll from NCTAF saying that “we will lose one third of our teachers in the next 5-6 years”. The New York Times uses another quote from Mr. Carroll - “The traditional teaching career is collapsing at both ends,” the report says. “Beginners are being driven away” by low pay and frustrating working conditions, and “accomplished veterans who still have much to contribute are being separated from their schools by obsolete retirement systems”

It is great to see this getting some press. They did, however, gloss over the one of the major issues in the report which is that our retirement system for teachers actually provides a disincentive to delay retiring. While the rest of the working world has already delayed retirement in their minds by 2-3 years based on the collapse of their IRA’s or 401k’s, teachers in many states would financially lose if they delayed retirement. So the stock market collapse has no impact on our retirement issue.

South Carolina actually passed a law allowing teachers to retire and then come back without facing a financial penalty on their pension. I expect that we will see more states looking to follow suit as this tsunami builds over the next three years.

Since the beginning of this blog I have been sounding the alarm on retirements as my readers know from my favorite statistic: in 1972, 21% of the bachelor’s degrees in this country were in education and today that number is less than 7%. Unfortunately, most states have such restrictive teacher certification requirements dominated by Ed schools so that as those 1972 teachers retire, they are left with gaping holes. Those states without solid alternative teacher certification routes will be the ones who feel the greatest pain in the next few years. .

We have a unique opportunity today to mitigate this crisis. We have displaced workers with incredible skills who could become teachers and fill the void that will soon cripple our schools. The naysayers, and there are so many of those in education, will say that once the economy turns around, those people will leave. But they won’t leave if you have solid preparation programs like ABCTE’s that realize an 85% retention rate.

Secretary Duncan tells us that what we do in the next three to four years will have a lasting impact on our education system for the next thirty years. In the case of teacher recruitment, it is both what we do to attract more teachers and what we don’t do to change needlessly restrictive teacher certification that will have the greatest impact on our future students.

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