The numbers are startling—nearly one in four teachers may leave their job by the end of this school year. A survey from the Rand Corporation shows that number is up from one in six who considered quitting before the pandemic. Cleveland State University has a new program that hopes to turn that around.
Frequent job-related stress and symptoms of depression are listed among the driving factors. The potential departures come at a time when there's already a teacher shortage.
A few months into her first school year, kindergarten teacher Payton Platt is feeling the pressure of teaching during a deadly pandemic.
"There is a lot of added stress. We all have to wear masks and we can't share supplies. We have to stay socially distant," said Platt.
While Platt is taking the stress in stride, many are struggling to stay the course.
"Educators have sort of hit the wall. You're also now a part-time psychologist, social worker, priest," said Rashad Gray, a student at Cleveland State University's Master of Urban Secondary Teaching program (MUST).
Despite witnessing those mounting challenges beyond the coursework, Rashad Gray is planning his return to the classroom at a time when a growing number of educators are considering retirement or quitting.
"My first job coming out of college was as an educator. Seeing the difference in the past 20 years is quite remarkable, what teachers are dealing with," said Gray. "I looked around for a few years to find a way to get back into teaching and MUST provided that answer for me."
The 14-month accelerated master’s program for licensure quickly puts educators in the pipeline, which is needed now more than ever before.
“We need more teachers. The students move through as a cohort. I think that's a key piece," said Corrigan.
Coordinator Diane Corrigan said that automatically builds in a much-needed support system to prevent the burnout that often cuts a career short.
The Rand Corporation found that Black teachers are more likely to leave the profession negatively impacting students in urban districts.
"Teachers who are role models who look like them and who share their cultural perspectives," said Corrigan.
The MUST program also addresses that issue by actively recruiting diverse candidates.
"We have somebody who understands your culture who looks like you, who knows where you're from. It helps bridge the gap between students and teachers, but also between teachers and parents," said Gray.
Corrigan's advice to those who may be hesitant to make the leap into education—talk with those still in the trenches.
"The story that can only be told by the students and teachers who are in the schools who are staying and can tell you why they stay," said Corrigan.
If you are interested in CSU’s Master of Urban Secondary Teaching program there is a virtual event scheduled for Wednesday.
You can contact Diane Corrigan at 216-523-7550 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.