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High Teacher Turnover: Good for the Profession?

High Teacher Turnover: Good for the Profession?

Joanne Jacobs

After praising E.D. Kain’s defense of job security for teachers in Forbes, Atlantic blogger Megan McArdle makes the case for firing teachers.

She assumes that teacher quality matters, even if it can’t erase the effects of dysfunctional families, and that it’s possible to identify very bad teachers, though much harder to determine who’s mediocre.

She proposes raising pay in exchange for offering less job security, attracting more risk takers to teaching. The job now appeals to people who value “good early retirement benefits” and a low risk of being fired, she writes. Minimizing teacher turnover shouldn’t be the goal, McArdle argues. Despite its costs, turnover ”also has benefits: fresh blood, lower burnout rates, and an incentive for teachers to keep performing.”

The whole idea of hiring someone in their early twenties and employing them forever . . . breeds an organization that is insular — resistant to new ideas, suspicious of outsiders, resentful of its nominal clients. We should be looking for ways to make teaching more open to part-timers and people in second, third, or eighth career cycles, and to make it easier for teachers to move around between schools and districts, and between teaching and other industries.

Teaching should be a ”high-intensity, high-reward job,” McArdle writes. “We’re going to get people burning out.” They should move on to other jobs.

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