Stephan Goyne entered teaching as a "fight the good fight" kind of guy, taking a job in East Oakland right out of college.

"I come from a family of teachers. It wasn't even a question of whether to do that," Goyne said. "The question was whether to do elementary, middle or high school."

But after six years in the trenches -- transferred from campus to campus, forbidden from organizing field trips and ordered to teach math only after lunch -- Goyne left the profession.

Now he works in real estate and runs a Brazilian jiujitsu studio in Oakland.

"That last year, I had enough of it," said Goyne. "The biggest skill you're applying is crowd control. You're not really having a say in the curriculum or what goes into it."

Teachers stifled by bureaucracy and blocked from making decisions in their own classrooms are leaving teaching in droves, according to a new study by Cal State University's Teacher Quality Institute.

Nearly 22 percent of California teachers leave teaching after four years, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. With this type of exodus, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning projects a 33,000-teacher shortage in California by 2015.

At high-poverty schools, one in 10 teachers leaves each year, either for a different campus or a new occupation entirely.

"It's students from our most challenging schools who suffer the most," said Jack O'Connell, state superintendent of schools. "We really do have a revolving door.


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The 1,900 teachers surveyed by the institute said they left mainly because of the endless amounts of paperwork, constant interruptions and fruitless meetings that take time away from actual instruction, said Ken Futernick, principal author of the study and director of K-12 Studies at the institute.

"Those kind of things aren't just driving people crazy, they are driving teachers out of the classroom," Futernick said.

Barbara Kerr, president of the California Teachers Association, said the study echoed the union's concerns.

"We need to have more say at the local level. We have bureaucratic-ed ourselves to death," Kerr said. "Teachers are feeling like they're not able to use the knowledge they have."

Teacher and poet Paula Gocker, an Ed Fund teacher of the year, left El Cerrito High School in the West Contra Costa school district after she was ordered to teach using more excerpts rather than whole books.

"I knew I couldn't be culpable in that kind of education," Gocker said.

She took a job teaching English at San Rafael High School, where she said her expertise is more valued and she has more input.

"If teaching is going to attract bright and creative people, they need to see they're teaching people, not just shoveling in curriculum."

In the Bay Area, the sky-high cost of living and comparatively low salaries also make it hard for new teachers to stick it out, particularly in rough conditions.

Sabrina Walasek loved teaching middle school science and math in Daly City and Felton, near Santa Cruz. But after six years, the Oakland resident found herself worn out from keeping kids in check .

"The amount of energy spent on discipline and behavior management just got to me after a while," Walasek said.

The stress wasn't worth the pay, she said.

"It was almost impossible to exist in the Bay Area on that salary," Walasek said.

She and her husband, also a teacher, both left teaching. Now she uses her education experience and business degree in developing educational toys at LeapFrog in Emeryville, a job that comes with a much higher pay check.

The problem extends far beyond pay, Futernick said.

According to the study, teachers who left tough schools said poor working conditions trumped pay among reasons they left.

"They're almost saying 'you couldn't pay me enough to stay at this school,'" Futernick said. Interestingly enough, teachers surveyed who stayed in the field and felt supported at their campus cited their compensation as adequate, the study says.

Those who left tough schools said they would not come back even if they earned more money, often known as combat pay.

"As long as we think of these schools as combat zones, we're not going to close the achievement gap," Futernick said. "We need to turn those schools into learning zones and teaching zones."

Shirley Dang covers education. Reach her at 925-977-8418 or sdang@cctimes.com.