[…] Michael Dixon, who has taught math to eighth-graders in New Jersey’s largest city for more than a decade, moved his family to a suburb after a drive-by shooting on their block. With proposals to weaken the protections of tenure and roll back benefits for teachers, he said, an affordable apartment would not be enough to bring him back to the city where he was raised.

“If I was to move here with my family,” he said, “what if they suddenly say: ‘We don’t need you?'”

Newark, like other urban school districts across the country, is desperate to hang onto good teachers.

Across the country, 30 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years. But in urban and low-income districts, the turnover is closer to 50 percent. At last count the Newark schools had almost 90 vacancies.

One issue is that the idealistic young teachers provided through programs such as City Year and Teach for America, who get housing assistance as part of their deals, usually come from elsewhere and often leave after a few years, as soon as their commitments are up.

“Although they do a superb job in filling hard to fill jobs, they only stay for two years,” said Joseph Del Grosso said, president of the Newark teachers union.


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