Ask teachers why so many leave profession

I am writing in response to the (too) brief item in Greg Bean’s column, “With John Merla, It’s One Goofy Thing After Another,” (Tri-Town News, May 18) about the new study from the National Education Association (NEA) showing that “half of new teachers in the U.S. are likely to quit within the first five years because of working conditions and low salaries”

The questions you posed in response to these statistics show how little the press, and the community at large, know about the teaching profession and the school system as a whole.

You asked why those teachers didn’t go to upscale communities to look for jobs. One reason is that there are only so many jobs in those communities, and competition for those jobs is fierce. More importantly, truly dedicated teachers realize the importance of bringing quality education to all communities, both rich and poor. A more constructive question to ask is, “Why aren’t teachers in underprivileged neighborhoods given the resources and support they need to do their jobs?”

You also asked how many young teachers left after being denied tenure after three years on the job. Plenty, I’m sure. As a former teacher, I can tell you the frustration of working long hours (no, teachers do not just work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.) and wholly dedicating myself to a school system that claims to offer the most highly trained educators to its students, but in reality discards teachers once they gain too much experience because they command higher salaries than teachers fresh out of college.

If you really want to be educated about the reasons why so many teachers leave the profession, don’t wait for the next NEA study to find out more information. Start talking to teachers, and I am sure you will learn a lot.

Lori Elkins Solomon

Old Bridge