Letter: Math debate continued
It is nice to see that readers are concerned about the number of teachers that schools are losing on a regular basis and the negative issues it causes for instruction and learning.
To clarify a few things, we need to go back to an editorial that was written on Aug. 19, in which I stated “that Arizona schools lose 24 percent of their first-year teachers each year, and they lose an additional 20 percent of their second year teachers.” That was followed on Sept. 4 by a letter to the editor from Mr. Bruce Gebhardt attempting to correct my math (based on total teachers), with an editor’s note attached that further explained the issue. On Sept. 11, Mr. Bill Hezzelwood wrote a letter to the editor, noting the previous sequence of events, and saying the “real issue was the termination rate of teachers was higher than they should be.”
I never mentioned the percentage of total teachers that are lost each year, since that varies so widely from school to school. I also did not use the word terminate. In fact, a great majority of these first- and second-year teachers are offered a contract for the next year, but chose to not accept the contract, since they can go elsewhere (into industry or out of state) and make considerably more money.
For example, if a school has 50 total teachers, and 10 of those are first-year teachers, by year two, 4.4 of those 10 teachers (44 percent of that teacher cohort) have left the classroom. Over time, this turnover rate creates a significant negative toll and the consequences are very problematic for schools and their students.
I am not a math teacher and never claimed to be, but I do know the drastic consequences of not being able to place well qualified and effective teachers in front of our young people every day. In that instance, students are subjected to a huge disadvantage.
We can do better. Thanks to Mr. Gebhardt, Mr. Hezzelwood, and the Courier Editorial staff for their genuine concern and the conversations that have raised understanding of the problem.
Yavapai County School Superintendent
Former President, Arizona State Board of Education