Society’s Keystone Species Part IV

teacher-turnoverThis is the fourth part of a blog mini-series. The first three posts depict the reality of being a teacher in North Carolina from a teacher’s perspective. They were posted on the following dates: February 6th, 2017, February 7th, 2017 and February 13th, 2017. The previous post discusses teachers’ motivations to teach despite the challenges both inside and outside of the classroom.

Giving a child the power to read, to multiply, to understand algebra and to interpret environmental conditions is like throwing a stone into a pond. It will ripple outwards into other aspects of the child’s life. As bees role as pollinators sustain the global food supply, so the teacher’s role as educators sustains society. What would happen if the teacher species died out (quit) or became overwhelmed and lost heart? What if the bees existed, but just couldn’t manage to fly because of the pesticides that cover their wings?

Time is running out. Education programs are being cut across the country. For those willing to face the challenge of poor treatment and long hours, it is becoming increasingly difficult to even receive certification. For instance, the class of 2017 will be the last class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to have the opportunity to earn an undergraduate degree in education. After that, there is an option to earn a Master’s degree, however, extra education- and secondary education at that- is expensive. And teachers no longer get paid for it. Due to decreased investment in public education, the State no longer offers increased salaries for those with their Master’s in Education. Teachers earning this degree go into their profession more capable, yet in poorer financial situations. Will they be able to pay back loans for extra education? Maybe – if they last long enough.

Lindsay Wagner of NC Policy Watch reported that approximately forty-nine percent of teachers will leave the profession or change locations within their first five years in the classroom (link here). The teacher turnover rate within the first two years is near thirty-five percent and increasing. With this short of a lifespan and a low salary, the costs aren’t often worthwhile. Often, it costs more to be a teacher than is earned. This results in high teacher turnover rates (as shown above) which Jane explains as detrimental to the children as “the ‘tricks’ to help students understand go with the teacher.” Fifteen year elementary school teacher and mother of two boys, Linda Graham, believes that the long term consequences of these turnover rates will be “students dropping out, a lack of consistency in schools, test scores dropping and having no leaders in the school to improve education.”

If legislature and advocacy for this species does not come soon, the effects of losing a keystone species will be felt as a society. Who knows if an architect can accurately build a bridge if their education is built on a crumbling foundation? In this endangerment of the teacher species, survival of the fittest no longer applies. Whoever is willing to teach survives for as long as they can. If that means that your geometry teacher has to google the difference between complimentary and supplementary angles, then so be it. There is desperation. There is danger as these incompetent teachers are on their way to earning tenure. After a ten years in the classroom teachers cannot be fired unless there is a serious offense or they resign.

A decline in the teacher population would be disasterous. It is detrimental and most people dont realize that the teacher is indangerd. Some flea the environment. Some migrate to other place in hope of a safe place. Some are left to the effects of bad treatment. they are in decline. And people are blind to it. the kids who are effected by this situation have not yet graduated and havent struggled yet with what college and lack of skills and all that is going to have. will they be abel to get a job? will they have the skills. what if they want to be a doctor and cant add numbers properly becuz the foundation was neve r firm. what if you dont learn how too spell properlee and and you dont learn grammer and you write “Dont, eat this” instead of “dont eat this” on a label and someone gets sick beecuz of a simple gramer mistak? the affects are not prediktabel beecuz the teecher is reely important. or they was at one point. what if the domino species or whatever it called goes away and then what happen then, i hop that we dont find this out but it wheel take work. the teecher normally takes car of peeple but at the moment they cant and they need help. at the moment, they are only indangerd. it is nearing the point of no reeturn.





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