A number of teachers at my school had chosen this route, and came back from hiring fairs and job interviews in the suburbs with stories of long lines and selective hiring criteria. Which makes sense: if you were running a school and there were a ton of qualified, experienced, certified teachers applying for a job why would you hire somebody else?
As I was searching for statistics for another project on the NY state education website, I decided to see if there was any quantitative evidence that NYC is, to some extent, the minor league system that feeds the major league systems in the suburbs. I compared some statistics from NYC to those from surrounding counties (Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island and Westchester and Rockland north of the city).
As it turns out, there's evidence that teachers in NYC are younger, less experienced, paid less, and teach larger classes than those who teach in the surrounding counties. Consider the following statistics:
*On average, the median teacher in surrounding counties has 3.2 more years of experience (12.2 v. 9) than does the median NYC teacher
*The surrounding counties, on average, have about half as many teachers with fewer than 5 years of teaching experience as does NYC (16.7% v. 32. 2%)
*On average, the median teacher in surrounding counties earns almost $20,000 more per year (89K v. 69K) than does the median NYC teacher.
*The percentage of teachers under the age of 27 is 2.5 times higher in NYC than the average in surrounding counties (5.6% v. 2.25%).
*The average 6th grade class is 25% larger (26.5 v. 21.2) in NYC than in the rest of the state.
Not all of these statistics, however, are very striking. Over 2/3 of teachers in NYC, for example, are 33 or older. That's not exactly damning evidence that every teacher in NYC is young, inexperienced, and trying to find a job in the suburbs. But we have to take remember that not every teacher wants to leave NYC. There are quite a few schools in the city that are desirable places to work and employ a lot of experienced teachers. If we look at just the Bronx, the borough with the highest poverty rates, we see slightly more striking numbers. This is how the median teacher in the Bronx compares to the average median teacher in the two counties bordering the Bronx:
|% under age 26
|% <5 yrs experience
So, yes, there's a significant difference in the age and experience levels of teachers in NYC and the suburbs -- and an even larger difference between teachers in the Bronx and the northern suburbs. But that doesn't prove that teachers are flocking from NYC to the suburbs -- it just proves that teachers are younger and less experienced.
The closest thing I can find to proof of that is comparing the difference between the average total experience of teachers versus the average amount of experience within that district in the city versus the suburbs. If we look at the different percentiles listed on the website, we can see that the vast majority of teachers in the city have been in the city for their entire careers -- the same is not true of suburban teachers:
|NYC: Years of Experience by Percentile
|Suburbs: Years of Experience by Percentile
Most teachers in NYC have spent more time teaching in NYC than has the average Suburban teacher with the same relative seniority level; this despite the fact that suburban teachers, on average, are more experienced. There can be only one explanation for this: suburban teachers switch districts more frequently. I suspect some of that has to do with teachers switching between the smaller districts in the suburbs in order to procure a better job (maybe one closer to home), but it's at least plausible that some of that is because a number of suburban teachers taught in the city prior to finding their current job.
Just judging by these numbers, it's not possible to quite grasp the magnitude of the situation -- exactly how many NYC teachers are fleeing for the suburbs each year? But it's probably worth both investigating further and addressing. Assuming that this is, in fact, a problem, I don't see any easy solutions. If suburban jobs pay more to teach fewer kids in a better working environment (and often closer to home), what, exactly, is the city supposed to do in order to retain these teachers? Sure, the city could spend more money to reduce class sizes and/or teaching loads or raise teacher salaries -- but they're never going to match the spending levels of the suburbs. They could work on fostering better working environments (in their defense, there's at least a half-hearted attempt at this in the form of the annual school surveys), or try to recruit teachers who aren't aiming to bolt for the 'burbs in a few years.
Or they could do what they're doing now: save a ton of money by hiring people from Teach for America, the NYC Teaching Fellows, and the suburbs -- few of whom will stay long enough to earn much money yet alone a pension.