[Squeakland] the non universals

Alan Kay alan.kay at squeakland.org
Thu Aug 16 06:34:07 PDT 2007

Below is a recent article from Education Week. In (only) my opinion, 
it should be impossible for 93% of American teachers to like their 
jobs if they had any perspective on what they are doing, how they are 
doing it, and what they are supposed to do. There are a few other 
mildly interesting tidbits at the very end of the article.

To me this is an example of how a field can and does select the 
personalities and skills that fit to its actual mission. I saw this 
very strongly when I was in the Air Force (whose general way of doing 
things I really did not like). I left after my required term, but 
many re-upped, and they were the ones that fit into that particular scheme.

Another example of the ecological power of environments and the 
co-evolution and selection of environments and traits.



Education Week

Published Online: August 1, 2007

Teachers Tell Researchers They Like Their Jobs

<http://www.edweek.org/ew/contributors/vaishali.honawar.html>Vaishali Honawar

Ninety-three percent of teachers reported satisfaction with their 
jobs 10 years after entering the field, according to a new survey 
that also found attrition rates for teachers were actually lower than 
for other professionals.

The <http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2007163>report, 
released this week by the National Center for Education Statistics, 
surveyed 9,000 graduates who received their bachelor's degrees in 
various disciplines in the 1992-93 school year. Nearly 20 percent of 
those graduates entered the teaching profession.

The findings from the survey debunk several long-held views on 
teacher pay, turnover, and job satisfaction. For instance, it found 
that only 18 percent of those who entered teaching changed 
occupations within four years of getting a degree. Given that other 
professions experienced attrition rates between 17 percent and 75 
percent during that period, the number of career-switchers from 
teaching was on the low end of the scale, according to the data. More 
than half those who became teachers were still teaching 10 years later.

Teacher advocates and unions have long claimed that turnover among 
new teachers ranges from 30 percent to 50 percent within the first five years.

"The take for a long time was that there is this incredibly high 
attrition among teachers from schools," said Mark Schneider, the 
commissioner of NCES, an arm of the U.S. Department of Education. The 
report, he said, shows that teacher-turnover rates are actually lower 
than those in other professions.

"I understand why schools and school districts are upset about losing 
teachers, but it is part of the normal sorting process" in a dynamic 
job market, Mr. Schneider added.

The survey also stands on their head some commonly held beliefs about 
teacher salaries. Teachers' unions have often cited low pay as a 
major reason for teacher dissatisfaction. But only 13 percent of 
those who left teaching by 2003 gave it as the reason for leaving. 
Forty-eight percent of those who remained in the profession said they 
were satisfied with their salaries.

Kate Walsh, the president of the National Council on Teacher Quality, 
a research and advocacy group in Washington, called the findings "explosive."

"What was surprising is how cheery the [teachers'] responses were," 
she said. Education groups, including the unions, she contended, 
often cite teachers' unhappiness in order to pressure districts and 
states for concessions.

Spokesmen for the National Education Association and the American 
Federation of Teachers said they were unable to comment on the report 
before the story was posted.

Racial Differences

The report's findings are based on the NCES' survey of 
baccalaureate-degree recipients conducted between 1993 and 2003. 
Participants answered questions via phone and the Internet and during 
in-person interviews. The report was prepared by MPR Associates in 
Berkeley, Calif.

Of those surveyed who were still teaching 10 years after earning 
their degrees, 90 percent said they would choose the same career 
again, and 67 percent said they would remain in teaching for the rest 
of their working lives.

The rate among African-American teachers, however, was significantly 
lower, with 37 percent saying they would choose to remain in the 
profession, compared with 70 percent of white teachers.

Nearly 20 percent of black teachers said they would leave if 
something better came along, compared with fewer than 10 percent of 
white teachers.

Ms. Walsh said the higher rates of dissatisfaction among black 
teachers could be due to the fact that more black teachers teach in 
high-poverty schools.

The study reaffirmed that attrition rates were higher among male 
teachers. While women (29 percent) were more likely to leave for 
family-related reasons, men (32 percent) usually left for a job 
outside the field of education.

A candidate's age when he or she attended college also appeared to 
play a role in attrition rates: Those 30 or older when they obtained 
their degrees were more likely than younger graduates to remain in teaching.

Those who earned better grades in college were more likely than those 
with lower grades to remain in teaching.

The study offers a window into how college graduates perceive 
teaching. For instance, nearly half of all bachelor's degree 
recipients in 1992-93 said they had never considered teaching or 
taken any steps to become educators.

Lack of interest, having another job in hand, and inadequate pay were 
the most commonly cited reasons for not pursuing teaching.

Math, science, and engineering graduates were among those most likely 
to leave teaching jobs to work outside education.
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