School closings displace thousands of teachers in the United States every year. This paper explores how elementary school teachers in North Carolina respond to this labor market shock. After documenting in our study that declining enrollment is a key driver of school closings, we find that whereas most displaced teachers move to new schools in the same district, a considerable number leave public education altogether. We find that the increase in the propensity to leave teaching is largest for experienced teachers. It is also marginally larger for the highest and lowest value-added teachers compared with teachers in the middle of the value-added distribution, and, strikingly, twice as large for black teachers than white teachers even from the same closing school. Moving schools after a school closing has no impact on teacher effectiveness as measured by value added. Although the primary goal of school closings is typically to move students out of declining or failing schools, school closings also affect the overall distributions of important teacher characteristics, such as experience, race, and effectiveness in raising test scores.

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