High turnover rates affect schools

By Kasey Minnick
April 19, 2007

Philadelphia Inquirere/MCT

Educators in New York as well as across the nation are beginning to rethink their presence in the school system, particularly at the middle school level.

As this is happening, there is a major problem being run into; a teaching corps that is now marked by a high turnover rate, with a lack of capability in both school subjects and the adolescent minds.

According to the New York Times, researchers in Philadelphia found that 34.2 percent of new middle school teachers in one representative year quit after their first year, compared with 21.1 percent of elementary school teachers and 26.3 percent of high school teachers.

As these teachers are being faced with “well-documented slumps” among children at this age, they have to deal with challenges of adolescent volatility, spiking violence and lagging academic performances according to the New York Times.

Christian Clarke, a Bronx high school teacher, said in a story from the New York Times, “Twice as much time was spent on putting out fires; twice as much time was spent getting the class quiet; twice as much time was spent on defusing anger in the kids.”

Assistant professor of psychology Dr. Melissa Terlecki said, “Kids are spoiled like crazy and no one wants to teach these kids. There is a real lack of control in their environment and that comes from parenting.”

The Education Trust, a Washington-based advocacy group, has asserted that a “scandously-high” number of middle school classes are taught by teachers lacking even a college minor in their assigned subjects, according to the New York Times.

Because of this fact, states and school districts are looking to toughen their own teachers by testing many approaches such as offering school certifications for middle school instructors, proposing extra money to work in harder schools or having them teach two subjects instead of one to allow them to form closer relationships with the students.

Of the 13,296 middle school teachers in New York City, only 82 of them are certified as “middle school generalists.” There is a possibility to have higher figures, but because of stricter credentialing requirements, it narrows the collection of middle school teachers.

Jason Levy, the principal of Intermediate School 339 in the Bronx, said in a story in the New York Times, “There are some (teachers) who are born to do it, and some who learn to do it and there are some people who really shouldn’t do it.”

Maggie Walmsley, a sophomore psychology major, said, “Teachers should have to get certified in psychology and child development so they know how to handle the kids at this age. If people don’t want to teach to this age group, then there is something obviously wrong.”

“Kids at this middle school age are volatile. When children are younger they do what their parents say because that is all they know to do, but this is when they combat against their parents to show they can be independent,” Terlecki said.

Kasey Minnick

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