IWF visiting fellow Vicki Murray had a great piece in the Orange County Register last week looking at teacher retention problems in California:

“Little has changed since 1983 when A Nation at Risk, a report based on 18 months of research by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, concluded that “the professional working life of teachers is, on the whole, unacceptable,” which helps explain why the American schoolhouse has become a revolving door for teachers. Average annual national non-retirement teacher turnover rates exceed 14 percent, meaning around a third of the teaching workforce (more than 1 million instructors) are in transition each year.

“This turnover costs California taxpayers an estimated $455 million annually, but better employment opportunities like those offered at charter schools could help.

“Among nonretiring California teachers at schools run by local districts, more than half who leave blame job dissatisfaction, compared with one in three of their peers nationwide. Inadequate support, excessive bureaucracy, a lack of collegiality and insufficient input under the current district-managed schooling system are leading reasons why California teachers quit.”

Luckily, there appears to be some hope in charter schools:

“In contrast, overall satisfaction rates among charter school teachers nationwide, at 82 percent, are more than three times higher than for their district-managed counterparts. Also, more than one in four charter school teachers across the country said they would do something else entirely if they could not teach at a charter school. They cite as key elements of job satisfaction their influence over curricula, student discipline and professional development, as well as school safety, collaboration with colleagues and their schools’ learning environments.”

Check out the rest of her article here.