Nation In Sore Need of Qualified Teachers
> 6/27/2007 12:27:57 PM

Central to almost every negative depiction of the American education system is a perceived lack of high-quality instructors entering the profession and remaining for periods longer than the absolute minimum. This unfortunate stems from a swath of baby boomers retiring from the profession as well as a dearth of younger graduates willing to sacrifice higher salaries and less demanding schedules in order to pursue a passion for what is largely seen to be a failing system.

A recent independent report from the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future estimates that the collective effort to recruit and training new teachers to replace those retiring in droves costs the United States as much as $7 billion every year. Many districts underestimate the considerable amount of money involved in advertising for teachers in various publications and public job fairs, the costs of training and mentoring hired staff, paying for inevitable substitutes, and compensating teachers who quit after working long enough to qualify for related bonuses. Based on current trends, the price will only continue to rise. This sobering statistic alone should prompt serious reconsideration of policy within the education field as well as the American government as a whole:

Nationally, about 50 percent of teachers leave their jobs within their first five years, according to a study last year by the National Education Association, a teachers union.

Why is this, and how can we solve the problem? In a more abstract sense, we must obviously make the teaching profession more attractive to the young, well-educated individuals who can truly turn the trends around. Researchers  and union officials largely believe that the ideological, self-sacrificing public service appeal of teaching as a profession has evaporated in the face of growing disenchantment and sensations of hopelessness regarding the United States' current education equation. Adding to these moral woes is the fact that the vast majority of teachers are women, and as an increasing number of women earn degrees and qualify for more desirable positions, fewer and fewer elect ot enter the education field. In 1964, a full 50 percent of female college graduates went on to become teachers. That number now stands at 11 percent.

Significant pay raises must accompany the more stringent qualification standards laid out in NCLB act, which looks more and more to be, at least in part, a large-scale attempt to undermine the very concept of public education. Expecting college graduates to continue joining the education field without increasing the benefits they stand to receive strains credulity. The practice of allowing for more creative approaches to the problems inherent in the teaching profession seems unlikely to gain ground under the current, testing-heavy environment. But giving teachers more room to personalize their efforts in the classroom may be a good thing in most cases. While many would use that opportunity to inject their own, questionably relevant ideologies into standard lesson plans, it might also lead to more teachers working from a sense of emotional and personal obligation rather than fulfilling their requirements by teaching the test. The most important aspect of the act of teaching is to encourage children to learn, not to squeeze the highest possible scores out of underachieving children. Of course, our economy is run by numbers, and it may take independent schools demonstrating the effectiveness of alternative approaches before legislators pay attention. At this rate, it seems like any change would be a good one.

No comments yet.

Post Your Comments

Post a comment
Email Address:
Verification Code:
Input the 8 characters you see above:


Drug Abuse
Sexual Addiction
Eating Disorders
Alzheimer's Disease

About TOL | Contact Us | Defining Behavioral Fitness | For Healthcare Professionals | Links | Privacy Policy