Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Question Of The Day - Teachers

At Peach Pundit, Rep. Buzz Brockway presents a provocative thesis. We have very low teacher turnover in this state, less than 2% per year. Given the shocking APS scandal and interim Superintendent Errol Morris' continued struggle to rid the rickety system of the rot, that incredibly low number seems to indicate the root problem lies in the contortions required to rid ourselves of bad teachers..

What if the answer lies in the other direction? Is that low number due to too many protections for public school teachers or could it be because it's difficult to find replacements for bad teachers? Do administrators keep below average educators because they know they can't find anyone better?

I do not know the answer but I suspect my hypothesis has some weight. We've all heard the difficulties in finding new teachers - low pay, stress, few rewards. Doesn't it follow that these factors would limit the labor pool thereby limiting turnover?

Perhaps, we should start looking at the front end of this pig instead of always looking at the back end.


buzzbrockway said...

You could be right however we have the highest teacher pay in the S.E. and 15th best in the nation (according to the GAE's website) so it's not because they aren't paid well. Perhaps good teachers seek jobs in other States because we, as a State have a bad reputation?

It would be interesting to know a true turnover rate. How many people leave because they're tired of teaching or take a better offer in another State?

griftdrift said...

In the metro area starting salaries are competitive. Not sure about the rest of the state. Another thing that would be interesting to explore.

Also, Buzz, your point brings another question to my mind. We tend to focus on starting salaries. What about career progression? I wonder if we are losing valuable teachers because the pay scale creeps too slowly, burnout, etc.

It would be fascinating to get a true analysis of why that turnover rate seems so abnormal.

And I think its valuable. Just as you showed me I was looking at it with pre-conceived notions (assuming low pay, stress), I think we all approach the education issue with deep seeded pre-conceived notions.

We need to start looking at this thing from different angles and see what we find.

Doug said...

I can't speak for metro Altanta , but teacher salaries in Northeast Georgia are more than competitive.

A 22-year-old female straight out of college will make a base pay of $31k that is supplied by the state, and a supplement of anywhere from $1-4k from the local county.

That is leaps and bounds ahead of anything a comparable 22-year-old female will make in the private market, because there are no other bachelors-level jobs here, with the notable exception of nursing. And the jobs where a bachelor's is required is only going to pay $11-14 per hour.

I think teachers are paid comparatively less as they stay in the system, but I would wager that most burn out occurs within the first 5 years in the classroom, a time when teachers are making more than they otherwise would in other jobs.

At any rate, it's an interesting question, and I'm glad you brought it up.