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Why Are Great Teachers Leaving the Classroom?

With so much focus about getting bad teachers out of the classroom, we're letting the really effective ones slip out the door.

\n\n\n\n\n Making it simpler to remove bad teachers from the classroom has been a hot topic in education reform, but policy-makers might want to shift gears and spend more time ensuring effective teachers stick around. According to a McKinsey study, 14 percent of teachers leave after one year, and 46 percent leave the profession before their fifth year. However, in nations with the highest results on international tests, the teacher turnover rate is only 3 percent. So what's happening with American teachers that makes them leave the classroom in droves?

In the above CNN interview, Florida high school math teacher Linda DeRegnaucourt shares why she made the difficult decision to end her 13-year career after the next school year is over. Money is definitely a factor—after all that time on the job, she only earns $38,000—but her decision to leave isn't just about the size of her paycheck. As we've heard teachers say before, she's finally had enough of the poor working conditions and unprofessional way she's treated. Now she's training to become a nurse, which will give her a $24,000 salary bump.


What's especially sad is that DeRegnaucourt is a truly excellent math teacher. She's been Teacher of the Year twice, and for the past seven years, 100 percent of her students have passed the calculus AP exam—no easy feat. Her departure is a real loss for her school and for the students, and when you watch her cry in the video above, you can see that this is a truly heartbreaking decision for her.

"I really thought I was going to be that teacher, 65 years old and retiring from the education field," she says.

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