In New York City, about 40% of teachers leave the classroom within their first five years — a costly churn that can also have negative effects on how much students learn.
On Monday, Comptroller Scott Stringer released a proposal that he hopes will significantly reduce that rate by funding year-long residencies, arguing that training teachers more like doctors could help save the city money, attract a more diverse teaching force, and fill shortages in hard-to-staff subjects and schools.
“We need a brand new approach to give our teachers and students in every classroom a fair shot,” he said at a press conference at the New York City Mission Society in Harlem.
The plan is just the latest in a series of proposals that could help build an education platform for Stringer’s widely expected run for mayor. Already, he has been outspoken in his support for pre-K teachers seeking equal pay to their K-12 peers, and he put forth a sweeping proposal to expand childcare for low-income families.
His latest plan calls for a $40 million investment in what he said would be the largest teacher residency model in the country. Residents would receive a $30,000 stipend while co-teaching with an experienced mentor who would provide support and feedback.
Mentors would receive specific training and an unspecified pay increase for working alongside developing teachers.
Such models have gained traction in school districts across the country. Supporters say traditional preparation programs don’t offer enough real-world experience before sending teachers off to their own classrooms, where they’re largely left to figure it out for themselves.
Karen DeMoss, who helps schools across the country launch teacher residency models through the Bank Street College of Education’s Prepare to Teach program, said current New York teacher preparation programs require as little as 40 hours in the classroom.
“This is something we’ve really got to change, because as we’ve learned, it does affect retention,” she said.
By combining a stipend with more sustained support, many hope that residency models can also help recruit a more diverse teaching force. Though more than 70% of New York City students are black or Hispanic, about 60% of teachers here are white. Having a teacher of color can improve learning outcomes for students, but those teachers, who are more likely to be placed in high-poverty schools, have higher attrition rates.
While research has found that the residency approach can, in fact, boost teacher retention, the findings are more mixed when it comes to improving outcomes for students.
In New York City, parents of color, whose children are disproportionately affected by turnover, have long advocated for better-prepared teachers. The comptroller’s numbers show that the highest turnover rates in the city are largely clustered in the Bronx, in Districts 7, 9, and 12.
“The teacher turnover is because of a lack of support and resources,” said Annagine Lewis, a Bronx parent and advocate with the New Settlement Parent Action Committee, which has called on the education department to reduce turnover in District 9 schools.
Stringer’s attention to the issue may play well with the teacher’s union, which recently pushed for increased pay for educators in hard-to-staff subjects and neighborhoods. United Federation of Teachers Vice President for Career and Technical Education Sterling Roberson was on-hand at Monday’s press conference to support Stringer’s plan.
“We don’t want to see teachers leave,” he said. “We have an obligation to support them, to train them.”