I will now write about a subject that is none of my business: retirement. I want to appeal to those who are close to the end of their teaching career, anyone with over 30 years experience, to strongly consider making this their last year of official public service. I also want to encourage those individuals who have lost interest in growing as educators to start a new chapter in their lives. In California, as in much of the country, the budget issues are humongous. In about a month my school district will start sending pink slip layoff notices to many of our employees both certificated and classified. Within this group could be many young nontenured teachers. We need these young people in education.
In general, a veteran teacher costs more than twice as much as a new teacher to keep employed at any school district. That doesn’t mean that for every one teacher who will retire this year, that two newer teachers will stayed employed, but for sure a retiring teacher will help save a young teachers job. Some teachers have lost their passion for teaching and are right now considering another profession. This is a good time to make that change. Of course the younger teachers will not have the experience or the expertise in the classroom of the veterans. However, the future of education lies squarely on the shoulders of the younger generation of teachers who have been thoroughly trained and prepared for the job.
Teaching is hard work for a cost of living wage. I am afraid that if young people who have worked so hard and made so many sacrifices to become teachers leave education because of these budget cuts they may not come back. Teaching requires an expertise in a variety of disciplines (subject area, classroom management, public speaking) that are highly attractive to employers. These young teachers will find other jobs that pay more and that might even satisfy some of their personal needs to serve. Good for them; bad for education. We need these people to stay in the service of our students.
We all remember what it was like at the beginning of our teaching careers. The excitement of the classroom, the joy of learning, the satisfaction of knowing that we made a difference to somebody. Do you still feel that way? Because there are other things to do in the world to help contribute to our society regardless of how long you've been teaching. The universities are always in need of adjunct faculty; how better to share your teaching experiences? You could also write a book on teaching or finish that novel. And for the die-hard teacher, some districts might even hire you back at their base salary.
Again, this is none of my business. I would personally be greatly offended if I was in my 31st year of teaching and some complete stranger wrote to me asking me to retire. I would be equally offended if someone who had never stepped foot into my classroom suggested that I consider another line of work. I will retire when I’m good and ready thanks. For those whom I have offended I apologize (write your comments below). Just please realize that I am trying to see the bigger picture and look down the road a little. I’m not saying that your services are no longer needed or that you are a lousy teacher, but that change can be a good thing for everyone.
**Revised on 2-11-2009 (Thank you Doyle).