The “Secret Factor” – Why Teachers Are Quitting Their Jobs

Teachers are not happy in their work and data shows more teachers than ever are considering leaving the profession. Liz Riggs (The Atlantic, 10/18/2013) points out that anywhere between 40-50% of teachers will leave the classroom within their first five years. On top of that, 15.7% of teachers leave their job every year, and 40% of teachers who pursue undergraduate degrees in teaching never even enter the classroom at all.

But why is this the case? If you Google “Why do teachers quit their jobs” you’ll find a number of well-known- reasons; here are a few:

  • Low pay
  • High stress from paperwork
  • Ineffective management
  • No respect from anyone
  • Too many reports to complete
  • Etc.

Now, I challenge you to find a list of reasons for quitting that includes having to put up with awful kids. This is the big secret in education. Some of the student behaviors in school are deplorable. This behavior leads to interruptions that make it difficult for teachers to do their jobs. Having to deal with disciplinary issues eats up a big portion of the school day.  In my book, The Kids Are Smart Enough, So What’s the Problem? (Rowman and Littlefield, Dec. 2017), we collected data and estimated that the six disruptive kids in a class cost the teacher 28% of her classroom day, each class, every day.  Kids in these classrooms attend school 5 days per week but only receive 3.6 days of instruction.  It’s no wonder teachers do not want to be held responsible for test scores.

If you discuss this problem with most working teachers, you will not hear anything about the behavior of their kids, but ask a retired teacher, and you will get an earful. Working teachers won’t discuss the issue for two reasons: 1. Their attitude may get back to the bureaucracy and they could lose their jobs. 2. Maintaining discipline in a classroom is part of their job description; they don’t want to admit that they don’t do well in this area.

To grasp the reality of my comments, check out Lesson 4.  This is a video about a teacher who is resigning from the Green Bay, WI school system.  Her description of what is going on in their middle school is an example of deplorable behavior.

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