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Nearly 1,300 Idaho teachers left profession in 2011, up from 700 in the previous year

Nearly 1,300 Idaho teachers left the profession in 2011, up from about 700 the year before.

More than half of the educators who abandoned teaching last year left for “personal reasons,” according to data from the state Department of Education.

School districts reported another 96 teachers were fired and 85 were laid off in 2011, which is about the same as the previous year. The remaining 579 educators left to continue their education or because of military and family obligations. Other reasons included death, leave of absences or a spousal transfer.

But the number of teachers leaving the profession for personal reasons more than doubled to 697 in 2011, up from 314 in 2010, according to records that the Idaho Education Association requested from the state’s education department.

The statewide teachers union is saddened to hear more teachers are leaving but not surprised, said Idaho Education Association President Penni Cyr. She pointed to new education changes that were introduced last year to limit collective bargaining and eliminate job protections, among other things.

Idaho is also phasing in mobile computers for every high school teacher and student while making online courses a requirement to graduate under the plan, which shifts money from employee salaries to help pay for the changes. Public school chief Tom Luna wants the state to offset a planned $19.4 million reduction to salaries in 2013 under his reform plan.

“Teachers are demoralized all over the state,” Cyr said.

The changes backed by Luna have made the state less attractive to educators, said Cyr, who pointed to a drop in the number of Idaho teaching certificates being issued to people living outside the state.

Idaho granted 633 teaching certificates to educators living outside Idaho in 2011, down from 661 the year before.

Luna countered that his reform plan, called Students Come First, is not to blame.

The data showing more teachers are leaving the profession were collected before the changes were introduced into Idaho schools this year, he said.

However, legislation was approved in the final hours of the 2011 Idaho Legislature to speed up the effective date of the reforms. The move, which made the new laws go into effect immediately rather than July 1, aimed to take the steam out of a voter referendum on the sweeping changes.

Teachers bargained under the new laws last spring, the union said.

Luna maintains that the recession is more likely the culprit for why more teachers are breaking from the profession. For example, a teacher might have left to follow a spouse who lost his or her job and moved to another state to find work, Luna said.

“I think what you’re seeing is because of the economy,” he said.

Critics predicted that educators would flee Idaho because of the reforms and get jobs teaching elsewhere, Luna said, though data from last year show fewer teachers left Idaho for education jobs in other states. The number of teachers who left Idaho for an educational institution in another state dropped to 48 last year, from 119 in 2010.

“These numbers do not support the doomsday scenario,” Luna said.

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4 comments

  1. It’s also (as of 2/25) interesting that…

    “Half of all Idaho students qualified for the federal free and reduced lunch programs in 2011, the State Department of Education reports. That’s up from 37 percent in 2008. In the Boise School District, 47 percent of students now have family incomes low enough to qualify for free and reduced lunch.”

    Maybe the guys at Dolan Media are wussies, which I doubt, but the journalistic implications are clear, re: the good ship “Idaho’s Economy”. It’s taking on water rapidly and listing badly to port. If a business publication can’t take on the corrupt and stupid state political gang that’s responsible for all this (100%), that publication’s not going to be around much longer.

  2. The only thing that puzzles me about this story, is why anybody in Idaho might actually be mystified by it.

  3. I was about 5 years away from “making it to Rule of 90” — full retirement. I retired early, I left a profession I loved and worked hard at for 25 years. I left because of administration at the local and state level. I never required much from administrators over my tenure and actually with the exception of one phenomenal building administrator, Dr. Kathleen McCurdy, I didn’t have much contact with administrators. I never once saw a Legislator or any type of lawmaker, State Department personnel or other policy maker in the buildings in which I worked. I left because I couldn’t take the politics, the ineptness, and the laziness I witnessed in administrators. I paid my association dues for 25 years and never one second of any day of any year did I ever think I wouldn’t do my absolute best because I was “protected” by my tenure. I worked tirelessly for my students. Year after year I was part of the Sunday afternoon crowd you can find in any building preparing for the upcoming week. My last year I felt so beaten down that I couldn’t take it any more. I now volunteer teach in various capacities, in public schools, in private settings and in a local hospital. Now, I can just teach and not be bothered with the deflating, depressing, and debilitating politics. Teachers are not the problem . . .

  4. Until we replace Luna our education system will be one of the worst in the country. We are losing teachers to places like Wyoming that will pay them almost twice what we are paying our teachers in Idaho. We have more school districts in Idaho then both Wyoming and Utah together (a waste of money). We want to get new business in the state, but when your education system is so bad, why would someone want to bring their family here.