It sounds weird, but some school reformers keep denying that teachers are fleeing the classroom. Even stranger, Oklahoma is cited as a place where everybody and their dogs agree that there is a growing teacher shortage, but where all types of stakeholders must be suffering from a mass hallucination. In fact, the Hechinger Report cites central Oklahoma as a place that proves the claims of a shortage are “overblown.” The report argues that central Oklahoma will face an excess of teachers next year, which helps prove that test-driven, competition-driven reform is not driving teachers out of the public schools.
Cue befuddled head scratching.
To understand why even reliable reporters like Hechinger’s Jill Barshay question whether an exodus of teachers is occurring, some historical background is necessary.
As education historian Jal Mehta explains, teaching has always been disrespected as a “semi-profession.” Throughout the 20th century, noneducators have repeatedly imposed test-driven accountability on schools. Even though those experiments have consistently failed, new waves of top-down reform are continually imposed. To admit that educators are leaving the profession at even faster rates is to acknowledge the failure of today’s competition-driven reform.
Since the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the test, sort, reward and punish school of reform has driven much of the joy of teaching from our classrooms. For instance, a recent Center for Education Progress survey found that 81 percent of teachers believe we have too much testing. Worse, 49 percent of surveyed teachers also say they’d leave teaching“as soon as possible” if they could find a higher-paying job; another 42 percent agreed with the statement, “I think about Teacher shortage: Real or fabricated? - NonDoc: