It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, but the head of one education organization says teachers feel undervalued, and many are hitting the door long before retirement.
Jennifer Martin, the president of the Montgomery County Education Association, told reporters that when she visited one school on Tuesday, “One mid-career teacher told me she wouldn’t be back next year.”
Martin added, “Just as I was talking to her, another young but experienced teacher was in the front office resigning in despair in the middle of the school day.”
According to Martin, 787 teachers for Montgomery County Public Schools have indicated they’re resigning or retiring at the end of the year. That’s up from 537 at the same time last year, said Martin.
WTOP has reached out to Montgomery County schools to see if the system’s data shows the same increase in expected resignations and retirements. Teachers who are retiring have until May 31 to submit their retirement-application forms, according to information on the MCPS website.
Martin was asked if the bump in the number of teachers who say they will leave can be chalked up to demographics.
That doesn’t appear to be the case, Martin said.
“The people I’m taking about who are in the younger years of their career who have had it,” she said.
And among teachers who are leaving before retirement, “they’re not just leaving MCPS,” she said, “they’re leaving the profession.”
Martin spoke during the weekly briefing held by County Executive Marc Elrich as part of Teacher Appreciation Week. Elrich taught in the county’s school system prior to entering politics.
Martin was asked what sorts of things contribute toward the decision to leave the teaching field.
“The push towards standardization and the focus on being data-driven rather than child-centered has taken a lot of the creativity and joy out of the classroom and is making it a much more burdensome role to have,” she told reporters.
“You are spending an inordinate amount of time explaining data and capturing data rather than focusing on the students in front of you.”
Elrich said it was important to celebrate, honor and appreciate teachers and school support staff.
“The most appreciated I felt is when I’d run into former students years later or even when they were adults themselves, and they’d say thanks for something I taught them,” he said.