I was casually listening to a legislative committee hearing on teacher standards on TV this week when I heard something from a legislator that caught my attention.

The lawmaker noted that doctors and lawyers determine standards for their professions through state and federal associations but teacher standards are determined by governmental agencies that include people who aren't teachers or have little background in education.

He went on to mention a recent study from the Alliance for Excellent Education that found that many of those who enter the teaching profession don't stay very long -- 14 percent leave after the first year; 33 percent exit within three years; and nearly half move on to something else after five years.

For a profession that should be so gratifying, it doesn't sound very inviting.

I've known several teachers who've had 15 or more years in the classroom and were counting the years, months, or days until they could retire. They told me they were tired of the paperwork, fed up with trying to please everyone, and upset about teaching students to score well on standardized tests rather than using the skills they were trained to use in the classroom.

The AEE study also revealed that only 69 percent of students earn their high school diploma. That's a shameful statistic for the 21st century.

Perhaps it's time teachers set the standards for what's taught and how it's taught in the classroom. They're the professionals.  Let them do what they know is best for our schoolchildren.