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The Challenges of Technology Teacher Turnover

In the fast-paced world of education, teacher turnover poses a significant challenge that impacts students and schools, particularly in specialized fields like technology and engineering.
Ms.+Blandford+assists+a+student+in+Aerospace+Engineering+class.+
Jonah Peters
Ms. Blandford assists a student in Aerospace Engineering class.

In the fast-paced world of education, teacher turnover poses a significant challenge that impacts students and schools, particularly in specialized fields like technology and engineering. As schools strive to meet the growing demand for technology and engineering programs, STEM teacher turnover is a national concern and a reality here at B-CC. 

In the 2022-2023 academic year, B-CC students in aerospace engineering with Mr. Rice were informed at the end of the first semester that he would be leaving for a job in industry. This abrupt departure came as a shock to his students. According to senior engineering student Findley Hartzell, “Mr. Rice faced challenges with commuting to B-CC due to living far away.” 

Industry jobs usually become available throughout the school year, and the start dates are often non-negotiable. However, Mr. Rice kept the success of his students at the forefront of his decision. Ms. Blandford, B-CC’s Career and Technology Education Resource Teacher explained, “Mr. Rice was able to negotiate his start to be at the semester break, which was really, really gracious of him. He was under no obligation to do that.”

Despite the unexpected nature of Mr. Rice’s departure, the impact on the students was mitigated by Blandford and head of the Technology and Engineering department, Mr. Anderson.  Hartzell said, “The students did not feel neglected, because immediately after Mr. Rice’s departure, Mr. Anderson and Ms. Blandford stepped in to provide support and assistance.” 

Ms. Blandford explained, “We did our best, and I worked with [Mr. Anderson] almost daily to go over the content, explain it, and work with him. He would cover my classes so I could go in and work with the students to support them.” Although in Ms. Blandford’s “dream world” she would have someone who was educated on how to teach aerospace, or she would have time to teach the class herself, she and Mr. Anderson worked around the hurdles to ensure the best education possible for all of the students taking aerospace. 

“Maintaining sufficient teacher staffing is a significant hurdle, as it takes 5 years to develop a teacher,” explained Ms. Blandford. “In response to that, the state of Maryland has created an alternative certification program. Or like a pathway, I should say.”

Despite the challenges, she is proud of the growth and popularity of the technology and engineering programs at B-CC, as student enrollment continues to rise. 

According to the Washington Post, there has been a 1.2% increase in Montgomery County teacher turnover over the last 4 years. On a national level, 300,000 public school teachers left the education field from February 2020-May 2022, which was approximately 3% of the US workforce. Also, there are 567,000 fewer educators in public schools than there were before the pandemic, as new teachers are not joining the workforce at the same rate they used to, while leaving at a higher rate than in the past.

The stress and compensation disparity between teaching and industry positions contribute to teacher turnover. Educators may be lured away by the promise of shorter commutes, different schedules, or more competitive salaries in the private sector. Personal circumstances and financial considerations also play a vital role in educators’ decisions to switch careers.

Ms. Blandford acknowledges that teacher turnover does occur within the Tech department but clarifies that it is not as widespread as some might think. B-CC teacher Mr. Milstein joined at the start of the academic year in 2022 as a substitute teacher, and was hired full time afterwards. Mr. Milstein said, “When I joined B-CC, everybody I saw looked like they were here for a while.” As Ms. Blandford emphasizes, “we’ve been able to consistently fill our positions because people want to work here. This is a great place to work.”

Teacher turnover in specialized fields like technology and engineering education is a reflection of the broader challenges faced by the teaching profession in a competitive job market. Addressing this issue requires the commitment of educators, schools, and the community. As the state and county adjust their approaches to teacher recruitment, the hope is that teacher turnover will become less of a concern, allowing for greater educational continuity.

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About the Contributors
Naveed Ahmad
Naveed Ahmad, Staff Reporter
Naveed Ahmad, a senior, will be serving as a writer for Tattler. In his free time, Naveed likes to go out and hang around with his friends and listen to music.
Alyssa Wiener
Alyssa Wiener, Staff Reporter
Alyssa Wiener is a junior on the tattler staff, and plays on the girls soccer and lacrosse team at BCC. In her free time she enjoys hanging out with her friends.
Jonah Peters
Jonah Peters, Staff Photographer
Jonah Peters is a senior and does photography for the Tattler. This is his first official year on the Tattler (although he unofficially took photos for them the previous year as well). In his free time he plays guitar, tennis, and also does his own photography.

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