Chicago’s Consistent Teacher Shortage

By Chris Coffey and Ron Campbell

The solution to keeping your school’s best and brightest teachers from fleeing the classroom: better working conditions, more administrative support and higher salaries. That’s according to education policy experts who are urging the nation’s school districts to invest in teachers now in order to reverse troubling turnover rates.

Since 2000, the picture has been fairly consistent: Each year about 8% of public K-12 teachers leave the system and another 8% change schools, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

“Teacher turnover is really bad for children,” said Linda Darling-Hammond of the Learning Policy Institute. “Schools with high turnover actually see reduced student achievement even for the kids whose teachers weren’t the ones who left because it becomes unstable.”

She added it also costs a school district about $20,000 to replace a teacher who leaves.

“It’s kind of pennywise and kind of foolish to allow that kind of churn rather than investing in the ways that would keep teachers in the classroom, particularly in the schools where kids need that continuous relationship,” Darling-Hammond said.

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