In Dallas and Across Texas, Teachers Keep Leaving Jobs as Fast as They Take Them

TXTeacher.jpg
U.S. Census Bureau
This young teacher has a 50/50 chance of switching careers after a few years in a Texas classroom.
Last month, Dallas Independent School District held its annual job fair to fill roughly 2,000 open positions for the 2014-2015 school year. The fair at Conrad High School was stuffed to the brim with eager college graduates, jaded career changers and Dallas newcomers. By mid-morning nearly half the positions had been filled.

But DISD human resources exec Carmen Darville said at the time that although the district expected to fill the 2,000 spots, there would likely be another wave of openings later in the summer as teachers continued leaving their posts.

Dallas' teacher turnover rate is high, but not unusually so -- not for Texas, anyway. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reports that Texas will likely fall short of its new teacher certification goal next year, and that as many as half of new teachers will leave the profession within five years.

Dallas' poor retention rates, of course, can be a good thing if departing teachers are underqualified and underperforming. But year after year, Dallas is faced with a teacher shortage when scores of teachers leave -- often for higher-paying jobs in less challenging environments -- and the district is forced to hire another stream of young teachers.

The problem is particularly striking among district bilingual teachers. At the job fair last month, Darville described a scenario that seemed to boil down to: If you can speak Spanish and you have a teacher's certification, you're hired. That was an exaggeration, but it drives home the desperate shortage facing districts across the state in this crucial area.

A state Senate education committee is currently considering suggestions on how to combat the problem. Included in proposals are better certification requirements and recruitment incentives such as higher pay and a more generous loan forgiveness policy. In Dallas ISD, there's already a bonus signing incentive in place for certain subjects, and this year marks the first of the district's new performance-based pay system.

State Senators Judith Zaffirini and Kel Seliger are spearheading the discussion, and will likely lead a legislative agenda for the upcoming session. "Education is all workforce preparation and life preparation," Seliger told reporters upon his appointment to the committee last week. "My hope is that the work of this committee will help to further integrate K-16 with the demands of our growing and progressive state."


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30 comments
Flabbergasted
Flabbergasted

You are CONFUSING two issues: Teacher shortage versus teacher TURNOVER.

Ask the suburban districts how many job fairs they held this year and when. Ask them how much they spent on recruitment. Ask them how many teachers from DISD APPLIED for jobs and how many they hired--and which positions.

For the second year in a row, under the latest regime, DISD has seen 2,000 teachers EACH YEAR--or a total of 40% of its 2012 teaching staff- resign or retire. The majority who left did not do it for increased pay somewhere else, but to get away from micromanaging and bad leadership. They wanted to get out before Home Rule hits.

Ask the other districts why they would even consider hiring a DISD teacher, and they will tell you: They have the BEST experience in dealing with adverse circumstances and a variety of children from various backgrounds. They bring to the classroom a  sense of clarity in mission and with a confidence not seen by Teach For America or any other teacher mill groups. (And for the record, ask the other districts why they don't use TFA.)

They will tell you that they are getting some of the best and brightest DISD had for years. They are getting some very good mentors for their new teachers. And they will also tell you they are getting grateful and relieved teachers, for they are now in a place where they will be appreciated and supported, not f&cked with on a regular basis.

Thanx4AllDaFish
Thanx4AllDaFish

Teachers should get paid more to deal with the kids, parents, and bureaucratic crap that they have to year in and year out.  There would be a ton more teachers if the salary was higher and the BS of the Texas Education Agency and the Department of Education would butt out of the process.  

texasteacher
texasteacher

As a 30 year veteran of teaching, I don't mind staying hours after school and planning wonderful ways to teach various concepts to my kids, (AKA my students).  Unfortunately, I have lately been feeling teacher burnout due to following three main problems with teaching:


1) The NUMEROUS and usually ASININE programs that the district comes up with for us to immediately put in to place. OMG! I am talking about at least eight a year and sometimes they throw these new programs at us in the middle of the year. Ridiculous! Can't it wait until the following school year? Sometimes the programs even contradict each other and it is all so ridiculous that you just have to laugh!


2) SOME parents are freakin' nuts! These parents believe anything their child tells them and then they will fly off the handle! We had one parent last year threaten  over the phone to beat up a teacher because she told the mother that her daughter was misbehaving in class. Parents - when your child is in trouble for something at school and they start accusing the teacher of picking on them, this is a natural reaction to deflect your anger off of them and onto someone else! My children did it but I didn't go storming down to the school making myself look like a jerk. FYI - parents can be arrested for threatening a teacher and more should be!


3) The most disheartening change I have seen since I began teaching, though, are the students. Students' behavior in the last thirty years has taken a sharp nosedive, especially in the last five years. I teach fifth and sixth graders and not only are some of them rude and disrespectful to the teachers and even the principals but they are equally rude and disrespectful to each other. The things I have heard and have witnessed at school would probably shock most of you. These children know WAY more than they should know at their age. It is truly a depressing situation. The worst part is that the majority of students want to do the right thing but all it takes is one horrible student to throw the whole learning process right off the track. The stress takes such a toll on the teachers and the students who behave.


These three main problems are what probably forces fledgling teachers out of the field. My daughter wants to be a teacher and I have been encouraging her to seek employment as a professor. They don't have as many problems as public school teachers!





oakclifftownie
oakclifftownie

When it comes to education why is the state using mandatory attendance rules that force the unwilling  to use its  service ?

Guesty
Guesty

This is a far more complex issue that either side of the reform debate ever gives it credit.  We don't treat teachers like real professionals in this country, so we attract a lot of people who are not professionals and get the same type of turnover you would see in typical non-professional jobs.

doublecheese
doublecheese

I'm married to a former high school teacher, so I've observed a few things.  


First, teaching is dominated by women. There are a lot of teachers that graduate college, start teaching, get pregnant, have the baby, and stay home.  This is VERY common.  That's the reason why my wife is no longer a teacher.  She's got a call recently asking her if she wants her job back because the woman who replaced her is having a baby and quitting.


Second, it's a LOT of work if you put in the necessary effort to be a good teacher.  That is, if you have any sense of pride in what you do.  If you are a shitty teacher, it's not so bad.  You can pretty much cruise through your job after your first couple of years if you want to.  Most people want to do a good job, and many of those burn out.  That's the number one reason why my wife will not go back to teaching.


The above "a LOT of work" encompasses so much shit that you don't really count on having to deal with before taking the job.  For instance, mainstreaming of special ed students means that you have to teach them without any training in special education, and develop lessons and activities for those students individually.  Just a handful of those students can easily multiply your workload, not to mention the time spent in class dealing with them that takes away from instructing the other students.


If the money was good enough, you might be able to justify sticking with the profession, but it just isn't.

fordamist
fordamist

College grads in every profession seem to have an idea what working in the real world will be,  except for teachers.

The neighbor's son finished at a high-rated national school,  wanted to make a difference,  signed with DISD.

And left at noon on the first day,  took a job as the night desk clerk at a hotel.

Half the new teachers in DISD won't last five years.

There's reasons for that?

(Jr. loves the new job,  says the really famous people check-in after midnight ...)



TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

Among the hundreds of thousands of people emigrating from the South must be many who are qualified to teach, to some degree, in the correct language.

The problem, as usual, is the demands our government imposes on teachers to prove their ability, and the answer to that is Federal action to provide a separate but unequal Path to Qualification, or elimination of those governmental demands altogether - but, in the sense of fairness, for Latinos only.

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

The school system has been overwhelmed by non-English speaking children.

Added to this, the amount of regulation heaped upon teachers shocks the consciousness.  It is very intimidating.  Additionally, you may have to spend some of your own money since the bureaucracy appears to be underfunded - for whatever reason including mismanagement.  

Ms. Mathis, think of it like this - everyone in the Dallas media must be, and demonstrate proficiency in, Spanish.  Otherwise you are fired.

Additionally, you must understand, and possess a certificate of completion in, the federal tax code.

If it is true that the DISD has an inordinately large share (a regional repository) of poor, non-English speaking kids, combined with a very high single-parent household ratio, it follows that we have probably identified why it is so difficult to fill the teaching slots and retain those that do accept the "challenge".

The question is, what are "we" going to do about it?

I suppose we should hire a . . . reformer.

rusknative
rusknative

@texasteacher You are spot on...I am retired from a long career as a business executive and turnaround manager.  I am fearless in tasks to be performed. I had questions about why our schools are failing, and reading all the pontificators on the internet blogs, I decided they do not have a clue, so I became a substitute school teacher to see the reality.  Took forever to get through the bureaucracy and foolish red tape.  Then I showed up prepared to take charge of a classroom no matter what the kids were like...I have raised four of my own all the way through college.  SO...what I was unprepared for was a mass of really unengaged, care nothing, lying and scamming, ignorant kids who cannot read and will not shut up and take instruction and whose main interest is playing on the internet via cell phones and the school computers....and classes with no course outlines of meaningful work, old experienced good teachers burned out and trying to survive a change a minute bunch of administrative GREAT IDEAS and MEASUREMENTS and GOAL SETTING that mean nothing and do less but take TIME away from teaching and thinking....and a bunch of newby nannystater liberal college grad freshmen teachers who just want everyone to get along and follow the rules Please. Every time a class gets started, the bell rings for dismissal, preceeded by the last five minutes of kids getting backpacks ready to leave anyway, and then the halls fill with a mass migration of kids on the way to another class...EIGHT CLASS periods of movement a day....More time taking attendance and moving than teaching.  The kids are impossible, they do not care, they do not respect adults, they just want to be cute and get attention from the others, and chat up the girls.  Cheating rampant...but mostly they do not care...is NOT particularly a group of ethnics....except SOME STUDENTS are truly engaged and quiet and do great work....but only maybe two or three out of a class of over 20 minigrownup brats.   I will stay with it for awhile, but the issue is not new programs....it is LESS programs, more specific studies...AND ONLY ONE LANGUAGE IN TEACHING....ENGLISH, NO SPANISH PERIOD.  If you cannot read and speak English Grammar fluently....forget school until you can do so....and the parents who cannot speak English should be FORCED to attend and be tested to learn and speak ONLY ENGLISH at home.   The parents have to have their kids translate sign in and what to do when they have to visit counselors or principals due to discipline problems.


THIS TRAIN HAS NO STRAIGHT TRACK TO RUN ON...

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@texasteacher

Thirty years ago my father was convinced that his contemporaries had spawned and raised the worst, most irresponsible, amoral, careless and reckless generation of human beings yet to grace the face of this planet.

What's the old saying? History doesn't repeat itself, but it does kinda' rhyme. 

rusknative
rusknative

@oakclifftownie The only way to keep kids with unengaged parents, or no parents at home, from hanging out in the streets and doing crimes....Huge babysitting operation....VERY LITTLE LEARNING.

Guesty
Guesty

@oakclifftownie It doesn't.  You are free to send your kids to private schools, charter schools, or to even home school them. So you don't have to use the State's services.


But you do have to education your children.  Otherwise, they become leaches on society, while at the same time lacking the skills to participate in a republican form of government.  The only places that don't require all kids to get some form of education are decidedly third-world. 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@doublecheese My friend works with "challenged" kids at his school.  They  all are not necessarily special ed, but just have parents who dont give 2 shits about their kids education and have no respect for anyone or anything.  His job is tough, it hurts him to give so much to the kids just to see the parents ruin everything they gain at school, but he wont quit because he feels he has a special quality in him that other teachers do not have so he sticks with it.  Becoming a principal is in his future 

ScottsMerkin
ScottsMerkin topcommenter

@fordamist "College grads in every profession seem to have an idea what working in the real world will be,  except for teachers."


Uh wrong, it more than teachers, its a majority of college grads.  they seem to come in and think they know everything bc the book told them, when in reality they have no clue how it works in the real business world. 

rusknative
rusknative

@TheRuddSki ENGLISH ONLY IN CLASS WORK AND SPEAKING...NO OTHER LANGUAGES SHOULD EVER BE USED OR ENCOURAGED IN THE USA EXCEPT TO LEARN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE. 

rusknative
rusknative

@holmantx STOP PANDERING TO PEOPLE BECAUSE THEY ARE HERE AND DO NOT USE ENGLISH IN THEIR EVERYDAY COMMUNICATION.  UNTIL SPANISH SPEAKING IS NOT A NORM, AND SIGNS ARE ONLY IN ENGLISH, AND THERE IS NO "PRESS ONE FOR SPANISH" PHONE OPTION.....NEVER WILL THIS PROBLEM GET SOLVED....AND THE KIDS WILL BE DENIED THE SUCCESS IN THE USA THAT SPEAKING AND READING ENGLISH WILL BRING THEM.

TheRuddSki
TheRuddSki topcommenter

@holmantx

Additionally, you must understand, and possess a certificate of completion in, the federal tax code.

In Spanish.

rusknative
rusknative

@ScottsMerkin @doublecheese I have substituted for special ed kids....they mostly CANNOT LEARN and the teachers PRETEND to be teaching, but mostly they are trying to prevent MELTDOWN Emotional outbursts and violence.  They cannot be still, quiet, or manage themselves. Some of them became favorites of mine, trying to work with them just learning their names and speaking to them in the hallway....but, the mainstream school is not where they can get help...and the other kids do not sit with them or include them socially...so the whole MAINSTREAMING deal is a liberal joke.

fordamist
fordamist

@ScottsMerkin @fordamist You'd agree,  in business it's the boss they're afraid of. Story I heard,  the 9th graders threatened to take out him and his entire family.

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