Letter: La. teachers are retiring

Here is a story about your child’s favorite teacher. On Jan. 14 The Advocate ran a story headlined “Rate of teachers retiring spikes” with numbers taken directly from the Teachers Retirement System of Louisiana. Teachers are suddenly retiring at much higher rates, and local superintendents, who actually deal with teachers on a regular basis, are understandably concerned about this loss of experienced talent. They said the instability caused by new education “reform” is causing it.

Imagine your daughter coming home and telling you that Mrs. Guidroz, her favorite teacher and your favorite teacher when you were in the fourth grade, was retiring next week, and was not even going to wait till the end of the year! Apparently state Superintendent John White shared your alarm at this loss of great teachers, and immediately ordered his researchers and staff at the Louisiana Department of Education to look into it. No surprise here, as most of us would be concerned to know that our most-experienced and knowledgeable employees were suddenly heading for the door.

Using their powerful databases and computers, White’s staff quickly handed him the results of their study. The four-page report along with charts and references was released to the media and reported in The Advocate on Jan. 29, “White countered data that indicates increase in number of teachers retiring.”

You can imagine that across the state, there were sighs of relief in learning that the claims of increases in teacher retirements were bogus. But any relief we might feel is false, because John White did not provide data to show fewer teachers are retiring. Instead, he shared a blizzard of numbers that showed information about all teachers who were leaving, those early in their careers as well as those moving on to administration.

Overall, the problem reported by The Advocate remains, and John White totally ignored it. The number of teachers retiring each year has increased by over 30 percent, and we are losing veteran teachers left and right.

John White is playing a shell game with us. Like a magician, he draws our attention to a completely different set of numbers to distract us from what should be of great concern.

Why not address the real issue? Why are large numbers of teachers fleeing our schools? Why are your favorite teachers leaving?

Noel Hammatt

independent education researcher

Baton Rouge