Frustrated, talented teachers leave Florida classrooms in droves
Noah David Lein has always loved teaching.
And if you believe the state of Florida, the honors English teacher at Winter Springs High School is precisely the kind of instructor we want in our classrooms.
He sparks kids' curiosity and was among only 4 percent of the region's teachers to receive the "Best and Brightest" bonus for "highly effective" teachers last year.
Lein still loves opening students' minds and introducing them to complex thoughts.
But not in Florida.
Not in a state that continually beats teachers down.
So next week, when the school year ends, Lein plans to walk out of the classroom for the last time ... and in to a career in sales.
It wasn't an easy decision. To put it bluntly, Lein said: "I kind of threw up in my mouth at the thought of abandoning the profession I always wanted."
But Florida politicians keep pushing good teachers away.
With a lack of respect. With obsessing about standardized testing over learning. And with cruddy salaries.
Lein, 32, said he started working in 2007 with a salary of $37,000. Nine years later, he makes $40,300 for his family of three — and started working weekends at a catering company to make ends meet.
"I've spent my last ounce of energy to make a difference to my students, but it isn't making a difference to me and my family,"he said. "I'm exhausted, I'm bitter, and I'm grasping for something to be hopeful and positive about."
If you care about public education, Lein's loss should depress you.
But it should disturb you even more to know that he's not alone. Rather, he's part of a trend — of Florida teachers leaving the profession they once loved.
The exodus is so intense that state records show that 40 percent of new teachers leave within five years after they start.
Florida's attrition rate for new teachers is 15-20 percent higher than the national average, depending on the year.
They are teachers like Lein. And like Lisa McIntosh, who will also leave her job next week as a third-grade teacher at Wekiva Elementary School.
"It saddens me to see the current state of education, but the increase in testing and the focus on testing has taken a great deal of the joy out of teaching," she said. "At this point, I no longer want to be a part of this situation."
McIntosh is leaving to work for a nonprofit that focuses on combating drug abuse.
Now, multiply that story over and over until you get thousands of teachers leaving every Frustrated, talented teachers leave Florida classrooms in droves - Orlando Sentinel: