ERIC Identifier: ED341762
Publication Date: 1991-09-00
Author: Ascher, Carol
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education New York NY.
Retaining Good Teachers in Urban Schools. ERIC/CUE Digest, Number 77.
Research makes clear that student learning is affected by teachers' qualifications and experience (Webster, 1988). Yet, the very schools where students most need excellent teachers often have the greatest difficulty hiring and retaining the best. This is because these schools that serve poor and minority children--often urban schools--have such limited funds for teacher salaries, educational materials, and general maintenance of the educational environment.
Central city schools suffer from far greater teacher shortages than do suburban or rural districts (Council of Great City Schools, 1987). Urban schools also tend to have higher teacher absenteeism, higher teacher turnover, and a higher percentage of substitute teachers compared to other schools (Bruno & Negrete, 1983). Moreover, these schools must function with more new and uncertified teachers (Darling-Hammond, 1988). In fact, the single greatest source of educational inequality is in the disproportionate exposure of poor and minority students--those students who fill inner-city schools--to less trained and experienced teachers (Darling-Hammond, 1988).
RETAINING GOOD TEACHERS
Nevertheless, good working conditions--even more than students' socioeconomic status--are associated with better teacher attendance, more effort, higher morale, and a greater sense of efficacy in the classroom. These conditions include (Corcoran, Walker, & White, 1988):
*strong, supportive principal leadership;
*good physical working conditions;
*high levels of staff collegiality;
*high levels of teacher influence on school decisions; and
*high levels of teacher control over curriculum and instruction.
The problem for urban administrators, then, is to create supportive working conditions, even when they have few resources.
IMPROVE THE MANAGEMENT OF EXISTING RESOURCES
Money spent on attractive, well-stocked classrooms; private and accessible telephones; and good copying machines may be a wise investment when compared with the cost of continually replacing disgruntled teachers (Darling-Hammond, 1988). Moreover, it is important to involve teachers in decisions that can be made at the school level. When teachers help make decisions about such resources as books, paper, and other classroom supplies, they can use their own expertise to improve the professional culture of the school (Corcoran et al., 1988).
WORK FOR SMALLNESS OF SCALE
REWARD GOOD TEACHING WITH OPPORTUNITIES TO REMAIN IN THE CLASSROOM AND SCHOOL
However, career ladders that afford creative and experienced teachers the power, prestige, and money they deserve as master teachers, within the school where they have made their reputation, enable both students and neophyte teachers to benefit from their expertise. At the same time, master teachers can work with new teachers in teaching teams and in other ways, breaking down the isolation of the classroom (Darling-Hammond, 1988).
MINIMIZE BUREAUCRACY AND EMPOWER TEACHERS
However, unless teachers are given the training and support to manage their new responsibilities, the empowering possibilities of decision making will not be realized. On the other hand, it has also been argued that teachers' sense of empowerment may be increased more by greater knowledge about their field, their professional community, and educational policy than by controlling school management details (Lichtenstein, McLaughlin, & Knudsen, 1991).
BREAK DOWN TEACHERS' ISOLATION
HELP TEACHERS FUNCTION AS CONTINUOUS LEARNERS
Teachers need both administrative support for trying out new teaching methods and real help in generating new ideas for work in the classroom.
Corcoran, R., Walker, L. J., & White, J. L. (1988). Working in urban schools. Washington, DC: The Institute for Educational Leadership. (ED 299 356)
Council of Great City Schools. (1987). Results in the making. Washington, DC: Author.
Darling-Hammond, L. (1988). Teacher quality and equality. Unpublished paper prepared for the College Board's Project on Access to Learning.
Farber, B. (1991). Crisis in education: Stress and burnout in the American teacher. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Haberman, M. (1987). Recruiting and selecting teachers for urban schools. Urban Diversity Series No. 95. New York: Teachers College, ERIC Clearinghouse on Urban Education; Reston, VA: Association of Teacher Educators. (ED 292 942)
Lichtenstein, G., McLaughlin, M., & Knudsen, J. (1991). Teacher empowerment and professional knowledge. Stanford: Stanford University, Center for Educational Policy Research.
Word, E. (1990). Student Teacher Achievement Ratio (STAR). Tennessee's K-3 class size study. Final summary report, 1985-1990. Nashville: Tennessee State Department of Education. (ED 320 692)
Webster, W. J. (1988, March-April). Selecting effective teachers. Journal of Educational Research, 81(4), 245-53.