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With Fewer New Teachers, Why Do Some Stick Around?

LA Johnson/NPR

NPR Ed Comments Section


Earlier this month, we reported on an alarming drop in enrollment at teacher training programs in several large states. Considering the job's long hours, generally low pay and unpopular testing requirements, many teachers in our audience weren't surprised by the trend.

This made us wonder: Why, in spite of all the reasons to quit, do so many teachers keep at it?

In 2012, The Gates Foundation (which supports NPR's coverage of education) surveyed more than 10,000 public school teachers--to find out what factors were important in retaining good teachers. 68 percent said that supportive leadership was "absolutely essential." Only 34 percent said the same about higher salaries.

Richard Ingersoll, professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, says one big reason teachers quit is they feel they have no say in decisions that will ultimately affect their teaching. In fact, Ingersoll says, this lack of classroom autonomy is now the biggest source of frustration for math teachers nationally.

"This would not cost money to fix. This is an issue of management," says Ingersoll whose research focuses on teacher turnover and retention.


We also asked all of you educators out there to send us your reasons for staying in the profession. From getting midday hugs to helping students conquer challenges, here are some of our favorite responses:

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