Teacher departures are once again on the rise after a brief slowdown following the 2008 recession, according to a new UFT analysis of city Department of Education payroll data.
The total number of departures of all pedagogues — including teachers, guidance counselors, social workers, school psychologists, lab specialists and secretaries, but excluding paraprofessionals — topped 5,000 for the second year in a row.
Despite a recent contract that boosted earnings, nearly 1,500 more teachers resigned than retired during the 2014–15 school year. For many years, retirement was the biggest reason for departures but now the trend has reversed. The number of regular resignations (excluding departures due to disability, discipline, licensing problems or denial of tenure) has outpaced retirements for four years in a row, with the gap growing wider each year.
The percentage of new teachers who left by the end of their first year increased to 8.8 percent last year, up from 6.3 percent in 2013–14. For the vast majority of rookies, the departure was voluntary: Of the 458 new teachers who left during the 2014–15 school year, regular resignation accounted for 86 percent of the departures.
“The latest data confirm what we have been saying for a long time: the system’s real problem is not how to get rid of more teachers, but how to hang on to those we do have,” said UFT President Michael Mulgrew. “The school system needs to do a much better job of supporting and mentoring our newer teachers.”
Higher attrition has resulted in a less-experienced teaching force overall. The share of New York City teachers with three years or less of experience is now 17 percent, a seven-year high. That figure has been creeping up since November 2011, when only 10.2 percent of teachers had three years or less of teaching experience.
As of November 2015, more than 1 in 4 teachers in the system had five years or less of teaching experience, a six-year high.