Potential mid-career teachers not oriented toward city schools

See all posts

A new survey of college graduates suggests that many more of them would become teachers if the job paid better, and that's especially true for people with backgrounds in subjects like math and science. If not exactly startling, this finding from a survey conducted for the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation does hold out hope for teaching as an attractive career for people who are ready to move on to other jobs. Call it qualified good news. The new salary money will not be easy to find, but some could reasonably argue that it is already there, locked into salary schedules that could be redesigned to help get and keep the best and hardest-to-find teachers.

It takes some digging to get at some of the more disturbing findings of the survey. Less than half of those expressing an interest in teaching would want to teach in an urban school, where good teachers are most needed. Just 11 percent indicated a preference for a school in a city district, while three times as many said they wanted to teach in the suburbs.

Whether these views reflect an aversion to urban schools or not, they are certainly a reflection of what we know to be true for most teachers. Teachers want to teach close to home, with "home" defined as near where they went to high school. And for most Americans with a college degree, home also means the suburbs. (To read about this issue in teacher labor markets more generally, go here.)