Philadelphia Teachers Struggle with Low Pay and High Attrition Rates

The Philadelphia School District faces a crisis as teachers grapple with low salaries and high rates of attrition.

Teaching is a profession that requires passion, dedication, and a genuine love for shaping young minds. However, for many teachers in the Philadelphia School District, these qualities are being tested as they face the harsh reality of low pay and high attrition rates. Recent research has shown that Philadelphia teachers are leaving the profession at alarming rates, creating a crisis that threatens the stability of the education system. This article explores the stories of three Philadelphia educators who are considering leaving or have already made the difficult decision to do so.

A Teacher’s Love for the Job versus Financial Struggles

Takia McClendon, a fourth-grade teacher at Bethune Elementary School in North Philadelphia, is torn between her love for teaching and the financial struggles that come with it. After a successful career in retail, McClendon decided to pursue her passion for education. However, the low salary of a starting teacher in Philadelphia has left her questioning her ability to survive on her income alone. McClendon, who is 35 and has a mortgage, is forced to pick up retail shifts to make ends meet. Despite her dedication to her students and the growth she has witnessed in them, she wonders how long she can continue to teach under these circumstances.

The Breaking Point for an Experienced Teacher

Maddie Luebbert, a respected teacher at Kensington Health Sciences Academy, has reached her breaking point after seven years in the profession. Luebbert, who previously taught English, found herself overwhelmed by the increasing demands placed on teachers. From standardized tests to social-emotional lessons and classroom management challenges, Luebbert felt that the job had become impossible to handle. The added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and the heavier burdens carried by students only exacerbated the situation. Luebbert made the difficult decision to quit at the end of the school year, seeking a less demanding and emotionally taxing job.

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Lack of Support and Uncertainty in the Classroom

Another teacher, who prefers to remain anonymous, shares their experience of feeling unsupported and uncertain in their teaching role. After being hired to teach one subject, they were unexpectedly assigned to teach an entirely different subject upon reporting to work. The lack of guidance and unanswered questions, coupled with a punitive administrative culture, left this teacher feeling unsupported and isolated. The teacher, who entered the profession with the goal of making a visible impact, is now considering leaving teaching altogether in search of an environment where they feel valued and respected.


The stories of these Philadelphia educators shed light on the challenges faced by teachers in the city. Low pay, high attrition rates, and a lack of support have created a crisis that threatens the education system’s stability. As teachers struggle to make ends meet and face mounting pressures, many are forced to consider leaving the profession they once loved. It is crucial for policymakers and education leaders to address these issues and find solutions that prioritize the well-being and professional development of teachers. Without adequate support and fair compensation, the future of education in Philadelphia hangs in the balance.