There is a growing teacher retention and attrition crisis in rural Mississippi. Several factors are believed to be contributing to this increasingly bad situation. The lack of teacher preparedness, through teacher education programs, is thought to be the most important aspect of increasing teacher retention and decreasing attrition in rural Mississippi. Lack of management skills such as organization and time management, a non-supportive work environment such as lack of mentors and professional developments, and accountability factor such as high stakes testing and No Child Left Behind are also believed to be contributing factors to teacher retention and attrition respectfully (Troen & Boles, 2003).
In the next decade, we will need to hire 2.2 million new teachers, and nobody knows where we are going to find them (Troen & Boles, 2003). Currently teachers are being recruited from a pool of under qualified candidates that are underprepared. These candidates are then thrust into a situation with no mentoring support or incentives for success. This may be one of the reasons why half of the new teacher population quit after the first five years of teaching. When teaching becomes a real profession, more academically able people will be drawn into it, colleges will be forced to improve the quality of their education, and better prepared teachers will enter the classroom and improve the profession (Troen & Boles, 2003). Until this happens, the quality of teachers will continue to decline and our children will continue to be left behind.
The supply of teachers has usually been in excess to the demand. This time is long gone. Statisticians predicted the teacher shortage and researchers well before the shortage actually occurred. During the early 1980s, it appeared a general teacher shortage could develop in the late 1980s and 1990s (Boe & Gilford, 1992). Researchers found that the contributing causes of the teacher shortage were high teacher attrition from the profession due to lower salaries, poor working conditions, and falling enrollment in teacher preparation programs. Educational leaders were aware and knew the causes of the problem that lied ahead of them and did not take advantage of the information available. If the teacher shortage is going to be eliminated, we must take advantage of all available information and resources in order to make sound and informed decisions about the direction that education is taking, otherwise we will be in the same predicament decades from now with our children being the victims of our poor decisions and lack of action.
Concerns about teachers and teaching seem to occur whenever teacher supply and demand issued develop. As a result, there are predicable responses, such as catch-up salary increases, bonuses for early contract signing, new scholarship programs for prospective teachers, additional professional development dollars, and more focus on teacher induction and support programs (Podsen,...