Jeff Itcush is to be congratulated for bringing an oft hidden reality to light; that is, fewer prospective educators entering training programs (Where have all the teachers gone?, December 30). However, there is an equally troubling trend and that concerns new teachers deserting the classroom.
While exact survey data is scattered and difficult to codify over multiple jurisdictions, it is safe to say that upwards of 40% of new Canadian teachers desert their classrooms within five years. General figures from the United States and England indicate that this "fleeing rate" is 46% and 40% respectively. What is so terrible with our educational system that, even after intensive training, new practitioners fail to last a minimum of five-years?
No other profession, trade, or job would tolerate such a continual loss! The costs in time and money in retraining and reintroducing new people to the classroom on a regular basis makes significant pedagogical improvements most difficult. The fundamental and difficult of all questions must be asked: Why are teachers fleeing?
The reasons that beginning teachers desert the classroom are many and varied: poor pay, lack of merit rewards, limited security, non-supportive administration, fear of false accusations, interfering parents as well as increasing community scrutiny into their private lives. Whatever the reasons, our educational landscape is festooned with broken dreams and unfulfilled aspirations from those who wanted to and trained to make a difference.
Jon G. Bradley
Associate Professor (Retired)