I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why TFAers Don't Stay in Teaching

You're one of the best and the brighest. You attended an elite four-year college and went into serious debt to do so. But after graduation, you weren't quite sure how to turn that degree in Art History into a job. Needing some resume padding, you signed up for Teach For America, and made a two-year commitment to teach.

Now you're finished... and you're leaving teaching, just like the vast, vast majority of your TFA peers.

Why is that?
In the midst of a continuing recession, beginning K-12 teachers are considerably more likely to be working multiple jobs, according to new data from the National Center for Education Statistics.
The data show that 22 percent of secondary teachers and nearly 24 percent of elementary teachers worked multiple jobs simultaneously as of 2009, compared with only 14.5 percent of those not in teaching. Teachers were also more likely to be enrolled in college or graduate school classes while working, 24.3 percent compared to 21.2 percent of nonteachers. That echoes reports from teachers in Palm Beach County, Fla., and elsewhere that new teachers in particular are having more difficulty living on their teaching salary alone.
As middle school teacher Kris L. Nielsen of Charlotte, N.C., wrote in a recent Teacher blog:
"I'm teetering on the poverty line myself, always running out of money by the third week of the month. ... I have no health coverage for my family, because it would cost over a quarter of my pay. 
My take-home pay is roughly equivalent to that of a full-time customer service manager at Walmart. I make less if you take into account the hours I work."
Yeah, sounds like just the sort of life you imagined for yourself after graduating from an Ivy-plus...

Remember back in 2009 when we were told we just absolutely had to pay big bonuses to failed financial institutions like AIG?
“We cannot attract and retain the best and the brightest talent to lead and staff the A.I.G. businesses — which are now being operated principally on behalf of American taxpayers — if employees believe their compensation is subject to continued and arbitrary adjustment by the U.S. Treasury,” he wrote Mr. Geithner on Saturday.
Funny how multi-million dollar compensation packages that aren't tied to performance were critical so the financial sector could attract "talent"...

... but paying teachers a living middle-class wage is something we just can't afford.

Thurston, let's hire a teacher to mow the lawn!


edpolicymusings said...

And yet we keep hearing about how teaching is a "part time job"...

blocht said...

Thanks for sharing this article. TFA is a just a stepping stone or as you but it "resume" padder for Ivy League grads. TFA Alumni can say they taught and feel good about themselves. REAL teachers work their entire career in the schools trying to make a difference.

Rod viquez said...

What other profession would let people not trained to do a job actually do it for two years? I could see walking into a law office and telling them that I can write contracts or defend people in court just because I have a college degree. That's what pisses me off about TFA people. They have no passion or training to teach, yet they think they belong in a classroom. Just shows how little respect teaching is given in the USA