Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Don't Take Teachers for Granted

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Don't Take Teachers for Granted

Article excerpt

It's the onset of the fall and that means, as it does every year, that school is about to start. This is a process we take for granted. Because we take if for granted, we underestimate its complexity. But the sheer size of the undertaking is mind-boggling. Here in the United States, our K-12 public school system involves 50 million students, 100,000 public schools in 14,000 school districts, 3.1 million teachers and $620 billion of expenditures.

And in this huge system, what in-school factor has the greatest impact on student performance? It's far and away the teacher.

According to a Rand Institute study, " a teacher is estimated to have two to three times the impact of any other school factor, including services, facilities, and even leadership.

Given the importance of teachers to our students, schools and society, one would assume that we would take good the prudent route: care for our teachers, and by doing so, care for ourselves. But this is not the case.

As in all education research, different studies paint different pictures. But when it comes to teacher satisfaction with their jobs, there are some ominous sets of data.

According to the 2013 Global Teacher Status Index, which measures "the level of respect for teachers in different countries and of their social standing in 22 countries, the USA ranks ninth.

According to the Organization for Economic Development, teacher salaries rank 12th out of 30 countries. The same report tells us that the teacher-to-student ratio in the USA is higher than in most of the countries.

According to a recent Gallup poll, the percent of teachers who "feel a lot of daily stress in their jobs is almost 50 percent, equal to doctors and nurses. The same report that only 30 percent are engaged in their job.

According to a recent Consortium for Policy Research in Education report, approximately one-third of teachers leave the profession after six years, a slightly higher percent than those who leave the police force.

According to a recent Gates Foundation/Scholastic poll, 47 percent of teachers disagree strongly/disagree somewhat that "students enter my classroom prepared for on-grade-level work. …

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