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Retaining Teacher Talent

The View From Generation Y

Finding 2 (continued)

Teachers of all generations tend to see teaching conditions as more important than salary, all other factors being equal. Mirroring findings from earlier studies (Farkas, Johnson, & Foleno, 2000; Hirsch & Emerick, 2007; Rochkind, Immawahr, Ott, & Johnson, 2006), teachers consistently prefer schools that provide professional support to schools that pay a higher salary (see Figures 8a and 8b). This finding could be evidence that the "service ideal" continues to reign among teachers; they would prefer to work in places in which they are effective with their students and the students benefit from their effort than in places where they make personal gain. One focus group teacher from Wisconsin discussed her experience with transferring to another district that paid less than the district in which she taught previously. She didn't realize why the teachers at her new district didn't mind the lower pay. "Then, after a couple years, I kind of realized because things were really good and so people were okay with that. They were supported by the community. They were supported by the administration. They could do things, allowed freedom."

Figure 8 graph

"The planning time that they allot is ridiculous. I get 46 minutes a day because the other 46 is devoted toward meetings. So 46 minutes a day to grade, plan, print, copy, walk up and down t2e halls to and from the office—there's no way that you could do what you need to do."
  —Elementary Teacher, Washington, D.C.


Moreover, most teachers do not consider "low pay and lack of opportunity for advancement" as the chief drawback of the profession, although Gen Y teachers are substantially more likely to be concerned about these factors than older teachers. Approximately one-fifth of Gen Y teachers (19 percent) selected low pay as "the most difficult thing about being a teacher" (see Figure 9).

Figure 1 graph
* These differences are not statistically significant.

The overwhelming popularity of policy options that improve teaching conditions points to the fact that teachers desire workplaces in which they are given more social and technical resources to be effective. Improving the way and the amount teachers are paid will likely serve to promote retention and the equitable distribution of teachers, but deploying as many resources as possible to improve effectiveness may be just as powerful if not more so.

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