It should come as no surprise to Gradebook readers that teacher turnover is rampant. But fresh numbers never cease to shock. Nearly 15,000 Florida teachers - or 10 percent of the entire state's teaching corps - left their jobs last year, according to a state legislative report issued Friday. Many of them were under the age of 30. And more than 4 in 10 of them said they were dissatisfied with working conditions or wanted to pursue another career.
The main reasons for the exodus: Lame principals. Unruly kids. Absentee parents. And little opportunity for career advancement. The teachers who flew the coop weren't too happy with their pay, either - but neither were those who stayed, said the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Governmental Accountability, which surveyed both groups.
The OPPAGA report also found many teachers did not feel valued, did not think they had enough influence over the school's policies and did not have enough autonomy in the classroom. Not exactly a news flash, but again, the numbers are hot off the presses and worth a wonk's time.
Solutions? OPPAGA said some things are already underway, such as programs designed to make principals better leaders. But it also said school districts could do a better job designing programs that give teachers the skills they need to handle problem kids. And that maybe the Legislature could design "a research-driven, performance-based career ladder system."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter