Class Action Class Action
Issue 012

Class Action

by Eric Smillie

September 12, 2008

Why are more public school educators than ever before leaving the field after only a few years in the classroom? Seven teachers take us to school.

Anyone who thinks,


Steve Thrush, 29

Years taught in public school: 4Classes taught: High school math, all levels, in Brooklyn, New YorkCurrent status: Graduate student in business at Columbia UniversityAfter business school, I want to connect investors to private and charter high schools that have the latitude to do things that are successful with their students. Hopefully that will influence and inspire public policy. I think that what I've learned as a teacher will make me a good person to be looking at these types of things. I think I might be best serving the people that I care the most about by doing [education] policy. And I won't lie to you: There's also a financial element to it. While I don't think that money is the only factor, we need to pay teachers better so that it's clearer to people that education is valuable and the status of teachers is raised-and so those people who are giving this education are able to make some money.


Kris Swett, 30

Years taught in public school: 3Classes taught: 11th-grade U.S. history in Ukiah, CaliforniaCurrent status: Graduate student in education at California State University, ChicoBecause of the budget crisis, I was given a pink slip this year, even though I was voted Teacher of the Year last year. Whenever they make layoffs, they go strictly by the years taught. The governor proposed a new budget, which might have saved my job, but I didn't want to stick around and wait to find out. I have two kids and a family, and I'm bringing home almost nothing anyway. I think most public school teachers leave because of the low pay. I developed a teaching system in my first year that some teachers are now using and I want to go back to school and work on it. I want to publish it, maybe make a bit of money and be able to go back to teaching. It's just such a shame that I'm even considering giving up something that I love so, so dearly.
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Class Action