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September 8th, 2008
Segment Two from Full Episode
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  • As many as 50 percent of teachers in the U.S. leave the profession within their first five years.
  • Students of high performing teachers progress three time as fast as those with low performing teachers.
  • The U.S. pays teachers less – as a percentage of the country’s GDP – than 25 other developed countries.



  • Patricia

    This clip sounds really great for families, children and overall the economy for the future. BUT I honestly don’t see teacher’s wanting this kind of change or any change for that matter. I believe schools need to have a complete take over from another outside entity (maybe federally or a private corporation). Then fire all teachers and rehire those teachers who are actually willing to work. It’s simple; if you don’t perform your job well (like any other job) you just simply get fired. I don’t see why teachers would oppose this. This is how the world works. Your performance, your test scores, your ability to work! This is reality but instead teachers hide behind teachers unions. I am just really sick of seeing teachers fail and still get paid.

  • Gwynn

    50% of new teachers leave within 5 years. We don’t examine the reasons. The program did not spend enough time addressing the social issues that make many of our students less willing to learn and therefore, discouraging to teach. When I expressed astonishment that a teacher friend’s student had done no classwork her response was, “The judge required him to be in school as part of his penalty for dealing drugs.” But the judge did not require the young man to do any work so he just lounged in the back of the room and refused to do anything. When I asked her about a student who was absent for 19 of the 21 days in the marking period, her response was, “Oh, his in the juvenile detention facility because of an armed robbery.” When we compare other country’s with the US we never face the fact that those countries often do not try to educate students who are criminals or unwilling to learn. I know teachers who have been fed up with the incorrigible behavior of a student only to find that the student had been referred over 80 times in one school year with no penalty but a day or 2 suspension.
    Before non-educators are so quick to disparage teachers, they need to walk a mile in their shoes. A friend who went into teaching after a career in business, says teaching is the hardest job he ever had.
    When the baby-boomer teachers retire in the next few years, it will be impossible to find enough people to teach as a career unless some mighty big changes are made.

  • Vivian

    You wrote:
    It’s simple; if you don’t perform your job well (like any other job) you just simply get fired.
    Did it occur to you that this job is very different from most other jobs? In businesses, workers may be creating a product or changing a product. The product is non-living, non-speaking, can’t be defiant, isn’t neglected at its home, etc. etc.
    There are great teachers with students that have circumstances beyond the teacher’s control, and probably beyond what you could imagine. For some students, passing a test is not a measure of success. There are so many other daily successes we celebrate in the classrooms. And as far as your suggestion of schools having complete take overs from an outside entity, well, could you imagine if the auto industry took over the medical field? Or vice versa? What I am really sick of is uninformed people making such harsh judgements.

  • Rose K

    With more than 25 years’ experience working in schools, I have seen many, many teachers, and the VAST majority have been dedicated and hardworking professionals. (I am not a teacher.) The question of how to measure teacher effectiveness is fraught with pitfalls – Is it getting your paperwork in one time? (An efficient paper-shuffler may not be an effective instructor.) Is it test scores? (That skews everything in favor of upper-middle class students with well-educated parents, and disregards the contributions of those teaching low-income, high-risk, and/or special needs students.) Is it student and parent ratings? (That becomes a popularity contest.) Is it peer and supervisor ratings? (Do you trust teachers to rate each other? How much of teachers’ time should be taken up in this way?) We need to stop complaining about teachers and assuming that they are incompetent or lazy as a group; humans often have a tendency to believe the worst about others. People often try to impose a private business model onto education, but education is a service to society, not a money making operation. What other job has the same number constraints (one of you in charge of 25-30 individuals for hours at a time), and demands that you provide stimulation, discipline, engagement, caring, individualization, and problem solving all at the same time? The demands that we make on teachers are enormous, and the supports we give them are often inadequate to meet THEIR needs. The steps taken in this program to provide mentor teachers and to encourage reflection and adoption of different teaching methods are the types of things that teachers benefit from, not a wholesale firing.

  • Lisa S

    I deeply enjoy all these people who think that teachers are lazy and just need to be fired. When was the last time you went to the store, or visited city hall, or went to a bank and were thrilled with the work performed? What ist he joke everyone says when driving by a crew working on the highway: “the American work ethic, one man working three men watching.” Every company in the country has a couple of people who just don’t pull their weight. Schools are no different. MOST teachers work very hard, until they are largely burnt out. Parents expect teachers to be moral leaders, intellectual, calm, patient, understanding, with a master’s degree etc. for about $17/hour. This is not realistic.

    If you REALLY want to change teachers and education, the answer is simple. Change the community. If even half of a school’s parents came to a PTA meeting or parent-teacher conferences and said, “I want my child to have more homework. Please call me if s/he is behaving badly in class and I will take care of it.” I’m pretty sure that education would change dramatically.

    The real problem here is not that teachers do or do not need to be fired, but that we expect them to be everything to children who have largely been abandoned by the greater society.

  • ChrisKL

    I kind of agree about the greater society. In America, I feel there are lots of factors that play into doing a student’s success in school. The family a student grows up in whether they can be supportive and be there for their child, the student themselves if they have the drive and motivation, whether they are middle class, working class, parents and their previous education, if they are 1st generation, if the child is getting their basic needs met (a nutrition, sleep, a steady place to call home, etc). Sometimes, a great teacher can do all they can to try to teach a class, but (I’m a student myself) students just simply are not motivated. Maybe it could be the way the teacher teaches, or maybe it could be that the student just can’t learn that way, or maybe the student is thinking about other things happening in their personal life. There’s just too many factors.

  • Barb C.

    Until we decide that the emphasis on testing is not the be all to end all answer, then education will go on as it is. We are stuck with SCORES and SCORES will not predict success. What will predict success is if we send students forward into the world feeling competent. We are witnessing a high rate of drop outs in our country’s schools. This is in part due to the heavy emphasis on a SCORE. No one is ever going to ask you what SCORE you got in high school. They are going to ask you what you can do to contribute to our society. We need to teach in a meaningful and relevant way in order to keep the interest of our students. We know so much more about how children learn best but teachers are so bogged down with irrelevant paper work that they do not have the time to be creative and let students learn to work cooperatively on projects that have meaning for them. What we ask teachers to do now is to improve scores. This does not allow for students to be actively engaged in their own learning. They now have to spend too much time “practicing for the TEST!”

  • Camille C.

    When I saw the statistic “50% of teachers leave within the first 5 years” I totally understood, because I am currently in my 3rd year of teaching and don’t think I’ll teach after this year. To be honest I feel like this will be my last year of teaching. I am getting burned out. I work long hours, and even when I go home I still have work to do. Then I hear what people say about public education and its educators, and I just feel like no matter what I do it will never be enough. I feel that there are unrealistic requirements for teachers, and many of our leaders don’t get that.

  • Lynne

    Tying any form of teacher’s pay to student performance makes as much sense to me as tying a dentist’s pay to patient performance. Are you going to punish a dentist if a patient doesn’t floss? Of course not. It is not something that dentist can control. Same with teachers and student performance.

    Teachers should receive regular professional development that will help them continue to perfect their craft. They should be observed and reviewed regularly and principal’s should have the authority to take corrective action when a teacher is not performing up to par. And teachers everywhere should be paid A LOT more than they are. They are professionals who are the foundation of a healthy and successful society. Great compensation will attract and help retain the best and the brightest.

    My thanks to all of you teachers out there. We do appreciate all that you do!

  • kevin d

    This is an excellent segment – very concise and direct assessment of the teacher recruitment/retention dilemma. I agree that we need the best teachers and for all teachers to be constantly improving and retraining. But considering the low teacher retention rate, do we want to accelerate the exodus of even more teachers? I agree with several of the earlier comments: why do 50% of teaches leave the profession during the first five years? How can we expand the TAP program to other states? What successes have we seen with mentoring programs? And how can we engage the community to contribute to schools, student programs, and teacher dilemmas with troubled and/or poverty students? It’s certainly much bigger than just a teacher competency issue.

  • Shad B

    Does anyone else have a problem with the first sentence in the description of this report? “Everyone agrees that teachers are the single most important factor in student performance.” Apparently I’m not one of everyone because I think the single most important factor is involved parents or guardians. An involved parent assumes that if they aren’t looking out for their kid, there isn’t going to be anyone else looking out for their kid. An involved parent is going to tackle the problem head on even if the problem is a poor performing teacher or a failing system. And, I don’t want to hear that we, as parents, are victims of our circumstances. There are always choices, even though some of them are really hard, maybe painful. That’s why we’re the parents. And, in the same way that I expect my kids’ teachers to be high performers, I expect my kids to be high performers. That doesn’t mean straight A’s–although it might. Teachers’ jobs are to teach. Kids’ jobs are to learn. Both teachers AND kids better be working hard at their jobs. Involved parents’ jobs are make sure that’s happening and take charge when it isn’t.

  • Tina

    I do thank those individuals who have voiced their opinions with knowledge on their side. As someone mentioned previously, I challenge anyone to walk into an inner city or urban school and try to teach for one day. I guarantee that they won’t make it past lunch. It is very different going into a classroom as the teacher and not a substitute. You have a curriculum to follow, exhibit excellent classroom management skills in order to teach the curriculum, grade assignments (inside/outside of school time), schedule and attend parent conferences, attend staff development trainings (inside/outside of school time), provide a nurturing atmosphere, be a counselor for students with dysfunctional homes, provide materially for students with irresponsible parents, eat lunch within a 20 minutes time span, shall I go ON???!!! These are just a glimpse of the things that we experience on a day to day basis. Someone asked why do 50% of teachers leave the field after 5 years. The answer is: because they are tired, burnt out, and unappreciated. I am in my 5th year of teaching and since I entered into this field, I have been in a state tested grade. There is so much pressure put on you to have great test scores so that your school and district can earn money. How sad that our schools are money driven and not really focusing on all around student success. Your principals are constantly riding you about how we can improve test scores and some will even go to the lengths of intimidation. Last year we tutored after school for months leading up to the test in order to try to help students pass the tests. Yes, that means giving up our evenings to help students who can’t get the help they need at home b/c their parents don’t have even a high school diploma so they can’t help them b/c they don’t understand the work themselves. So the next time someone wants to make negative comment about teachers, I encourage them to go spend a day in a local school and then come back and make that comment.

  • Alison

    I was in a class the other night and we talked about how to find effective people in any job and that the pool needs to be increased not decreased. With all of the special licensing being required these days, it decreases the numbers in the pool. Obviously, teachers need to be knowledgeable in their subject area. It is hard to hear how others feel teachers are lazy and not doing their jobs. I see and work with so many who care, work so hard, and prepare for hours. It can be a very thankless jobs, but it is worth it to see students be interested and learn and make changes in their lives.

  • Jackie

    I’ve spent 16 years as an elementary teacher. Am I burned out? Sure, many days I feel very stressed. Too much “documentation” that takes away from instruction. Too many “organizational” meetings that do not address the true priorities. We must reach a point where the outside world knows more of the facts and less of the hype. Teachers want to help students achieve. Yes, parents need to be accountable. Teachers also need to be equipped with the tools to assist all students in their learning environment. There are so many mandates that have dramatically changed the classroom environment. Yet, with limited funding that is dwindling every year, it is becoming impossible to reach all learners. Especially students that distract others or interrupt the teacher excessively. With a master’s degree and my years of experience in the classroom, I should feel very confident. I often feel inadequate due to the increase in behavior issues that are overlooked by many administrators. Teachers need more training to understand disorders before the students are placed in their rooms. Even mechanics have manuals. We have left that out with the specials needs students assigned to general education rooms and basically said,”Just do what you can.” Until we make education a priority, the downward spiral will continue. Lack of funding is now the excuse for students not receiving the instructional help they need. It is ridiculous to think that we will make it fine without classroom assistance, training, or support. I am talking about the extreme cases that do not qualify for other services outside their own classroom. They are academically capable to perform at the average level. Their behavior is unpredictable and unmanageable with routine efforts by the teacher. Yes, parents are involved and see the needs of their child. Schools without funding have their hands tied. You will not get the “best” by providing the minimum in funding. I also love when I hear, “You got into the job, just get out if you don’t like it.” Hopefully, we will have enough teachers around to stand strong in tough times. Ultimately, the students are the ones who suffer the most. They should be able to learn and the teacher should be able to teach.

  • angela windt

    i am a teacher with 13 years experience. i have taught ap, avid, been a department chairperson, have been a cooperating teacher for graduate students, and am a student advocate. i was NOT hired in ohio because i was told i would cost the district too much money for my education and experience. i was, however, welcomed with open arms as a long-term sub when they desperately needed a position filled. ironically enough, they hired a first year teacher to fill that same spot for the 2008-2009 school year but found themselves in need of another long-term sub. guess who was called? does ohio really think of students first or budget first? thank goodness california welcomed me back with open arms, my years of service, wonderful pay, and plenty of sunshine!

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