To the Editor:
In response to the article “Steep Drops Seen in Teacher-Prep Enrollment Numbers,” how very sad, distressing, and alarming regarding the future.
I would argue that the drop in teacher-preparation enrollment is due to the decline in, or even a lack of, respect for teachers, not just by families or students, but by the populace as a whole and by so-called professional experts in education at the national level.
Coupled with this lack of respect is the relatively lower pay offered starting teachers these days, especially when compared to the cost of obtaining and maintaining professional credentials in most states.
In ordinary terms, the payback of being a teacher just isn’t worthwhile when compared with other job opportunities for recent or new college graduates. Ironically, for many women, I believe this is made even more obvious because so many women today actually are breaking through the glass ceilings in professions previously not open to them. Of course, it isn’t just female teachers facing this situation, but all teachers. Starting pay for all beginning teachers just isn’t that competitive in most areas when compared with other possibilities.
Undoubtedly, there are also other contributing factors to the declining number of teacher-candidates. The issue needs to be addressed at every level, including changes that place less emphasis upon testing as a means of evaluating teaching, a lighter workload for teachers, and most especially a restructuring of pay levels for all teachers everywhere, regardless of their years of experience or expertise in more-favored subjects.
While it would be tempting to place the onus on the teachers themselves, the truth is that everyone in society should be concerned with the recent changes that are driving would-be teachers out of the field. It doesn’t just take a village to raise a child; it takes an entire nation.
A version of this article appeared in the November 05, 2014 edition of Education Week as Declining Respect, Low Pay Explain Teacher-Prep Drop