Friday, June 15, 2012

Is Teacher Churn Undermining Real Education Reform in D.C.?

An Op-ed in this Sunday's Washington Post calls attention to the rate of turnover of both teachers and principals as a huge barrior to making our schools better. The column is up on the Web here. Education analyst Mark Simon argues the turnover rates are so high we're losing a lot of our best teachers and creating a hostile culture in too many schools. Turnover in charter schools is even higher.


Anonymous said...


I wanted to thank you for an excellent and thoughtful piece. It is very much what I have observed as my children have left the DCPS and as their friends and children of our friends teach in the system and then leave. Only one is left, and she has a good spot in School without Walls.

My now 28-year-old would come home from college and always volunteer in her wonderful first grade teacher's classroom. Her goal was to spend her life as an elementary school teacher in this system. But that school was "merged" (read closed but without the required public hearing), the existing teachers were reassigned to Anacostia, and most of the good ones left the system. My daughter's first grade teacher, who lived in our community almost 30 years, went home to Indiana. She will never return.

Our daughter is now in graduate student studying speech pathology. She will not be a teacher.

Don't get me wrong. The Washington Teachers Union was corrupt to its core, and the Fenty Administration did well by getting rid of a lot of bad apples. But it basically ignored anyone who disagreed with it, and definitely ran roughshod over many. It created many friends west of Rock Creek, but disenfranchised most of the rest of the city.

Fenty was not defeated for re-election by accident.

I do know that a school is a community, or better a grouping of communities. It gets better as roles are sorted out over time, and as people find ways to work together toward common objectives. A school is not a service provider serving up anonymous modules of intelligence enhancement.

Perhaps a good metaphor is a talented young Washington Nationals squad that was inexorably pulled down by a veteran Yankee team that knew their roles and played them well.

If I can be of assistance, please call on me. In the past, I've been a PTA President and Co-Chair of Parents United. I sat on the panel charged in 1999 by the Control Board with returning the D.C. School Board to an appropriate role--the "thank you" plaque from Alice Rivling is still in my office. I am a fiscal economist, if that is relevant, and am now retired from full-time work.
Vic Miller

Anonymous said...

MCPS has 1/3 of new teachers gone at year 5? That might not be 80% at year six, but that's still a very disturbing statistic!

Candi Peterson said...

Great article Mark. Last week I featured a reprint on The Washington Teacher blog. Keep 'em coming.

Candi Peterson
AKA The Washington Teacher