(NaturalNews) Gwen Weil of Aseltine School in San Diego, CA recently informed me of a potential crisis in public education. Experienced teachers seem to be vanishing due to lack of job satisfaction. Gwen revealed the following:
A recent study by the Department of Education shows a startling trend in education: although 20 years earlier the average level of classroom experience for public school teachers was 14 years, by 2007-'08 that level had dropped dramatically to just 1 to 2 years of experience (US Department of Education). While a lack of experience does not necessarily indicate a teacher's ability, student achievement scores reveal that the average first-year teacher is less effective than the average third-year teacher (Omer, Seville; "Classroom 'crisis': Many teachers have little or no experience").
The most common reasons teachers give for leaving reflect their dissatisfaction with their work environment, not with their pupils: little or no support from school administrators; lack of clarity in the school's mission; inadequate cooperation and communication between staff; frustration at having to "teach to a test."
Although individual teachers of all experience levels can have an incredible impact on their students, children with special needs require especially intensive instruction and a wide variety of teaching techniques and tools to learn successfully - knowledge and experience gained through extensive experience working with students inside the classroom.
This is why Aseltine School is dedicated to providing students with highly experienced teachers - and to creating a learning environment that supports both students and teachers, ensuring our students benefit from knowledgeable teachers who are devoted to and passionate about their students' success. We know how important teacher experience is; therefore, our least experienced teacher has taught Special Education for eight years.
While this high teacher turn-over has big costs to schools - approximately 7.3 billion nationally each year according to some estimates (Kain, E.D.; "High Teacher Turnover Rates are a Big Problem for America's Public Schools") - the biggest cost is paid by students. In response to the shortage of experienced teachers, schools often find themselves forced to place teachers in subjects outside their area of expertise - or even to cut or reduce services altogether. This not only leads to greater teacher job dissatisfaction, it also further threatens the quality and effectiveness of students' educational experience as teachers struggle to teach students to master a subject outside their area of expertise and with limited resources.
Inadequate educational experiences not only lead to lower achievement in school, but also leave students ill prepared for the demands of the workforce they will one day join. If these young people do not receive a complete and effective education, they will be unable to find the employment necessary to lead independent lives in their communities.
This can mean serious consequences for the community as these youth struggle to survive in a world for which they are inadequately prepared: increased crime; untreated mental and physical illness, often resulting in "self-medication" with illegal drugs; reliance on social services provided at great expense to tax-payers.
Study after study confirms the serious consequences of this teacher crisis: American students perform worse in every subject tested than their international counterparts at every grade level - students they will one day be forced to compete against in the growing global economy.
Given the proper preparation and resources, teachers can have a big impact in their students' lives as they inspire, challenge and guide students through their education. In teaching, as in most professions, proficiency and effectiveness are gained primarily - even solely in some cases - through direct experience. Unlike many other professions, however, teacher effectiveness can have consequences well beyond individual teachers and students: our teachers shape our students, and our students shape our future.
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