New Report: Teaching and America’s Future

Posted by on April 13, 2009

With the retirement of baby boomers, ‘collapse’ of the teaching profession

Articles in The New York Times and USA TODAY are calling attention to the April 2008 report from the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future that projects a third of the nation’s public school teaching force will retire within the next four years. This widespread departure of experienced teachers will be compounded by attrition from new teachers, one out of three of whom will leave teaching within five years. The consequences of these trends will weigh heavily on taxpayer-financed retirement systems and overall teacher quality. In the words of the report, “The traditional teaching career is collapsing at both ends.” One solution proposed is a restructuring of schools around “learning teams,” a model already underway in Boston, in which experienced teachers mentor new teachers and help them through their often challenging first few years. Economist Michael Podgursky from the University of Missouri, who studies teacher retirement, is skeptical of any imminent “collapse,” but agrees that demographics indicate some sort of phased retirement plan should be undertaken so as not to lose many of the baby boomers now contemplating retirement.

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