Complex teacher ‘exodus’ debate is rekindled

Teachers — both in K-12 and higher education — accounted for 7 percent of the out-migration from Idaho between 2008 to 2011, according to a recent Boise State Public Radio story.

But does this suggest a teacher exodus? That’s not clear.

Alivia Metts, a regional economist with the state Department of Labor, told BSU public radio that the teacher numbers were “kind of odd,” but not sufficient to constitute an exodus.

College instructors accounted for 4 percent of the outmigration, ranking No. 3 among all professions, and K-12 teachers accounted for 3 percent, ranking No. 4, according to the BSU public radio story.

On Monday, the report sparked a robust discussion at D.F. Oliveria’s Huckleberries Online blog at the Spokane Spokesman-Review. But this isn’t a new debate.

In January, a state Office of Performance Evaluations report described “a strong undercurrent of despair among teachers,” language that was questioned by some legislators. But the report also sent mixed messages about an “exodus.”

“The data currently available on teacher turnover does not support assertions that turnover has experienced a marked increase or change over the past three years. Therefore, we conclude that a mass teacher exodus has not occurred but that fears about such an exodus occurring in the future may not be totally unfounded.”

Recruiting and retaining quality teachers and administrators is among a list of general recommendations from an education reform task force, convened by Gov. Butch Otter. The task force held a series of public meetings across the state next month, and will meet again on May 17.

  • Anne Liebenthal

    “Fears about such an exodus” are well founded. The despair is very real.