Attracting and keeping quality teachers in California classrooms is a constant challenge. With about a third of the teaching force nearing retirement, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning estimates that California will need an additional 100,000 teachers over the next decade.
This teacher recruitment problem, which has reached crisis proportions in some areas, is most acute in urban and rural schools. Teacher compensation is a significant deterrent to recruitment. Teachers are still paid less than professions that require comparable education, training and skills.
In addition to bringing more young people into the profession, we must also find ways to keep the quality teachers that we have. The statistics for turnover among new teachers are startling. Some 20 percent of all new hires leave the classroom within three years. In urban districts, the numbers are worse—close to 50 percent of newcomers flee the profession during their first five years of teaching.
CTA believes all teacher recruitment and retention efforts must begin with the recognition of the complexity of teaching. We must pay teachers a salary comparable to other professions. We must provide them with a safe working environment. Teachers must be treated like professionals and have a voice in classroom decisions. We must give teachers the time they need to plan and confer with their colleagues and provide beginning teachers the mentors and professional development they need. We must also reduce class size so teachers can devote more time to each student.