A friend of mine just got a new job (congrats, Scott). This seems to be happening fairly often in the last few years. I always hate to make a list because someone feels left out, so the following is a very incomplete/off-the-top-of-my-head/not-anywhere-near-comprehensive list of just a few of the folks I know who've left the classroom and/or moved further away from students in the last few years.
Scott Elias. Will Richardson. Lee Kolbert. Bud Hunt. Ben Wilkoff. Tyler Amidon. Kate Nowak. Steve Dembo. Dean Shareski. Jennifer Dorman. Matt Townsley. Sean Nash. Dan Meyer. Kathy Schrock. Darren Kuropatwa. Buffy Hamilton. Lucy Gray. Zac Chase. Diana Laufenberg.
I want to be very clear here - I am not criticizing any of these folks. Everyone makes decisions based on what they're interested in, what's best for themselves and their families, and the opportunities that present themselves. I also think that most (perhaps all) of these folks feel like they can have a larger impact on students by doing what they are doing now. (And, of course, while I'm still in my school, I only teach one Algebra class myself.)
But I still can't help feeling a bit sad, that it's a loss for students when folks like those above - and all the others that I didn't list - move further away from the classroom. I've always felt like the closer you are to students, the more impact you can have. Yet our system is set up to "promote" people out of the classroom and on to "more important" positions. Positions that get increasingly more removed from the students themselves.
I'm not sure I have any suggestions here, much less a "solution" (is there even a problem?), but somehow I think a big part of the change we need in education revolves around letting talented and creative people be talented and creative, spread their ideas to a larger audience, but not have to change positions and leave their daily contact with students.