Chalkbeat has the story of how 1 in 3 Tennessee teachers is seeking a way out of the profession. The data comes from the annual Tennessee Educator Survey released last week. Here’s more:
A third of Tennessee teachers say they would leave the profession for a higher-paying job and also would choose a different career if given a do-over, according to the results of a new statewide survey.
The bad news comes amidst a national teacher shortage that is definitely impacting Tennessee. In fact, Metro Nashville schools opened the year with more than 100 vacancies and a number of schools have few math teachers. Nearby Sumner County opened school with as many as 30 vacancies and has taken action — raising pay by $4000.
It’s no wonder Tennessee teachers want to leave the profession. Not only do they earn less than their peers in similar states, as Chalkbeat notes, they also earn nearly 30% less than similarly trained professionals:
This year’s results indicate a national average teacher pay gap of 23.8%. Tennessee’s gap is 27.3%. That’s an improvement of two points for Tennessee, which had a gap of 29.3% two years ago.
Of course, Bill Lee’s focus on vouchers and funding for charter schools instead of teacher pay only serves to exacerbate the problem:
So, charter schools — which serve only 3.5% of the state’s students — will see a 100% increase in available facility funding from the state while teachers will see only a 2% increase in pay.
If the two investments were equal and funded at the rate granted to charter schools, there would be a $342 million investment in teacher salaries. That’s roughly a 10% raise. A raise that’s desperately needed as Tennessee leads the nation in percentage of teachers with little to no classroom experience. We also have one of the largest teacher wage gaps in the Southeast.
Of course, teachers cite more than pay as a reason for wanting to leave the profession. Many cite the poor treatment by the state as an impetus for wanting to exit the field. For example, Kindergarten teachers have essentially been told their opinions about what’s best for kids count for nothing:
So, teachers and students will have to wait ONE MORE YEAR until the DOE actually provides an alternative model. That means your Kindergarten student will be losing instructional time and that teachers across the state will be forced to jump through meaningless hoops in order to meet a ridiculous mandate.
Does the TNDOE care? Nope. Not at all.
It’s as if Governor Bill Lee and Commissioner Penny Schwinn are joining together and singing to Tennessee teachers:
“I want you, I need you, but there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you…”
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