More than a quarter of MN teachers find a new line of work within 3 years

The Education Department says the number of teachers leaving their jobs is way up

Minnesota's Education Department says more of the state's teachers are leaving their jobs – with more than a quarter of them finding a different line of work within three years.

As part of its new report on the supply and demand of teachers, the department asked school officials what the biggest obstacles to retention are.

The two answers: teacher salaries and the competitive job market.

The Education Department says the number of Minnesota teachers leaving their jobs has climbed 34 percent since the 2008-09 school year.

They anticipate it will be tough to find teachers in certain specialties – like special education, math, and chemistry – over the next few years, especially in Greater Minnesota.

No surprise to teachers

The state's leading teachers union, Education Minnesota, said in a statement Thursday that far more teachers say they're leaving their jobs for "personal or unspecified reasons" than because of retirement, promotion, or transfer.

The group's president, Denise Specht, says: “The shortage of qualified teachers has gone from an issue, to a problem, to a crisis, in only a few short years.” Specht says too many good teachers are leaving the profession because they can't make ends meet, while competition for their services in the private sector heats up.

Last year, the union put together a report warning about looming teacher shortages in some subjects and geographic areas and making suggestions on what the state could do about it.

Progress in diversifying

This week's report notes some changes in Minnesota's schools. For one thing, the number of white students is shrinking and there are more students of color.

Hiring more racial minorities as teachers is a goal for the department and they say there's been some progress. 7.7 percent of teachers licensed in the last school year were minorities, compared to 6.1 percent the year before.

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