A recent St. Petersburg Times survey found that last year over half of the Tampa Bay metro area's teachers considered leaving their jobs, and that "41 percent of teachers with 15-plus years' experience look back on their careers and wish they had chosen another profession." The dissatisfied teachers' complaints weren't all about salaries, either. Lack of autonomy in the classroom, overweening school bureaucracy, and constant testing were major concerns as well. But Pinellas County (St. Petersburg) Superintendent Clayton Wilcox isn't buying it. While he expresses concern over the survey's results, he denies that "everything was good in the old days" before high-stakes tests. "If that was the case," he asked, "why weren't we getting [good classroom performance] before?" Wilcox has a point, but so do micromanaged teachers. Here's a compromise. Districts should emulate charter schools and demand that students achieve academically, but not dictate how professional educators run their classrooms. Yes, it's all about the kids. But leaders must also remember that we need high-quality teachers-who are satisfied in their profession-to catalyze the student achievement we all desire.
"Teachers troubled with job, poll says," by Thomas C. Tobin and Melanie Ave, St. Petersburg Times, May 14, 2006