Friday, September 16, 2022

Addressing The Teacher Exodus By Blocking The Exits

Well, that's one way to do it. 

There's no doubt that having a teacher depart mid-year puts a strain on a school district. Even if they leave at the end of the semester, which theoretically would provide a natural break in the year, students still have to readjust. 

There are a variety of ways to head off this part of the teacher exodus, like making life in the school less miserable. Administrators might even try things like talking to the teachers and finding out how they're doing and what they need. But a few states have taken a more punitive approach to the problem.

In North Carolina, teachers who leave before the end of their contract could have their license suspended for an entire year. That's a milder penalty than some are facing.

Some states like Illinois have laws on the books that have rarely been invoked. But now WGLT reports that a large school district in McLean County has actually refused the resignation of several teachers before the start of the school year. The situation is not unusual--you accept a job one place just to be safe, then another district makes a better offer, all before school even starts, and so you jump from one to another--but the response from the district was very unusual. Two of the teachers agreed to stay. Two others did not, and now their teaching licenses are in jeopardy.

Texas is leading the pack on this particular issue. The last half of the 2021-22 school year saw a record number of mid-year resignations; at least 471 contract abandonment reports have been sent to the state. While a one year suspension is possible, Texas can also revoke a teacher's certification. 

While the challenges created for school districts by losing teachers clearly demand attention, I'm not sure this is the best way to handle it.

First, I worry about forcing people to stay in the classroom when they have told you they don't want to be there. When someone says she wants to quit, does that not identify her as an employee that you do not want to hold onto. Maybe the process can include an attempt to address the issues that made that teacher want to leave, but still, as a parent, I'm not going to be excited about having my child taught by someone whose heart and mind are already way out the door.

Second, if you're problem is that you don't have enough certified personnel, actively reducing the number of certified personnel available seems counter-productive. Of course, that's fine if you're one of those states changing rules so that any warm body can be put in charge of a classroom. Texas is not one of those, but if I lived in a warm body state, I'd keep an eye peeled for this sort of teacher-punishing rule. 

Tough times call for tough measures, I suppose, but states ought to be careful to impose tough measures that help solve the problem and not worsen it. 


  1. Well, as a majority of teachers are women (tho not all, of course) and these legislators are dead-set on controlling those women and their bodies in every possible way, this seems right up their alley.

  2. I'm a bit surprised. Many schools can fire teachers 'at will'. By holding teachers to a sighed contract, aren't they opening themselves to having legal actions against them should they decide to 'at will' fire someone?