Education Letter to the Editor

The System Causes High Teacher Turnover

September 11, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

To the recent juxtaposition of Lawrence Baines’ excellent analogy comparing education reform with the military and Jordan Kohanim’s poignant essay on why she left teaching, I’d like to add my own perspective (“What If We Brought Education Reform to the Military?” and “Why I Left Teaching,” Aug. 22, 2012).

I have a daughter who lasted only three years (as a Teach For America teacher in Baton Rouge, La., and Harlem), and I still soldier on working with teachers and kids as a consultant in a Chicago high school. From my own and my daughter’s experiences, I conclude that, if almost 50 percent of your employees quit every five years and you need the ones remaining to work seven days a week, 12 hours a day, there is something wrong with the system.

Instead of the military comparison, try business. High turnover (that 50 percent that Ms. Kohanim mentions) is a key sign of bad management. Overworking the staff you have is a sign of inefficiency and incompetence. In short, it’s not the teachers who are the problem—it’s that they have to work within a dysfunctional context.

Bruce Taylor

Chicago, Ill.

A version of this article appeared in the September 12, 2012 edition of Education Week as The System Causes High Teacher Turnover


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Boosting Student and Staff Mental Health: What Schools Can Do
Join this free virtual event based on recent reporting on student and staff mental health challenges and how schools have responded.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Curriculum Webinar
Practical Methods for Integrating Computer Science into Core Curriculum
Dive into insights on integrating computer science into core curricula with expert tips and practical strategies to empower students at every grade level.
Content provided by Learning.com

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: October 11, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education Briefly Stated: September 27, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: September 20, 2023
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education From Our Research Center What's on the Minds of Educators, in Charts
Politics, gender equity, and technology—how teachers and administrators say these issues are affecting the field.
1 min read
Stylized illustration of a pie chart
Traci Daberko for Education Week