Maryann Aita, Writer and Individualized Educator
Dr. Pedro Noguera, a professor at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture and Education, points out that Teach for America puts the least qualified teachers into the highest-need schools. He has suggested a number of ways to reform education, but his idea that teachers should be trained more like doctors -- with apprenticeships and residencies -- struck me as a potentially effective way to sustain careers in education.
Teach for America, as several answers have echoed, is becoming a resume point. I knew dozens of undergrad classmates who went into TFA specifically as a way to get something else. Even though many of the classmates I know did continue teaching, many left the schools they were initially placed in, leaving them as they became more qualified. This essentially keeps the cycle going: schools that need qualified teachers keep losing teachers as they become qualified.
Salary increases are certainly one way to incentivize teachers to stay in their profession, but I agree with Dr. Noguera's idea of restructuring the way teachers are trained. For one, if teachers have a larger investment in their training, they will (hopefully) consider it more seriously. Teach for America looks like a great option when you're trying to find your first job, but if you had to invest four more years, for example, into a teaching degree, it makes the decision much bigger.
More importantly, Dr. Noguera suggests that teachers should train under other teachers and I can't think of a better way to prepare someone to enter the classroom. As it is, many student-teaching programs are a matter of months or weeks and the student teacher might get to lead a class or two. But if students had residencies, where they were evaluated by professionals on a regular basis, they would be much better prepared to enter the classroom. That way, qualified teachers are in high-need classrooms, turning new teachers into qualified ones. We wouldn't want to be treated by a doctor that had a summer-long crash course in anatomy. Why should we take education less seriously than our medical needs? We spend decades in school -- it's important.
Better training, along with higher salaries, would give teachers more accountability and preparation, which would be invaluable to keeping great teachers as teachers.