Attracting and retaining effective teachers in high-poverty, urban schools remains a critical challenge. Some scholars interpret high turnover rates at these schools as evidence that teachers prefer to work with wealthier, whiter groups of students. Others argue that teachers are leaving behind the poor working conditions that tend to prevail in these schools. We interviewed 95 teachers and administrators in six high-poverty, urban schools in order to understand teachers’ views about their work with students and how school context influences their experience. We found that most teachers chose their schools, and stayed, because of their students. However, when schools failed to provide instructional supports, an orderly environment and extra assistance for students, teachers expressed frustration and their intentions to leave.
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