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Letter: More than 150 Troup County teachers have quit

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I printed off all the Troup County Board of Education meeting minutes for the past year and highlighted all the teachers and parapros (teachers’ aids) who have quit.

I counted them up and came up with 111 teachers and 46 parapros who have quit! I recall that some 25 teachers quit at LaGrange High School. These numbers do not include the great number of those teachers and parapros who “retired” recently, nor do they include those few who were fired.

When so many employees leave a place of employment, especially in today’s job market where it is very difficult to find employment, there must be a serious problem. Generally such an exodus is the result of employees being overworked or being treated unfairly or with little respect.

It is also a red flag for labor unions that the potential exists to organize a union. I have said for many years that our teachers, custodians, bus drivers and lunchroom staff are at the bottom of the TCSS’s (Troup County School System) totem pole, and, unfortunately, I believe that this recent turnover reflects my belief.

Our teachers and parapros have daily contact with our children. If morale is low, no one is going to be at their peak potential if they are unhappy at their workplace.

Our teachers and parapros have one tremendous burden on their shoulders, and my hat is off to all of them for the job that they do under the conditions that they have to work. Our central office and school board scoff whenever you bring up the fact that there is a tremendous discipline problem in our local schools, but the lack of discipline is a problem in our high schools, our middle schools and our elementary schools.

If anyone doubts that discipline is a major problem, then I suggest that they either visit a classroom, or better yet, do a little substitute teaching.

Sadly, I am told by some teachers who have recently quit that the school system did not even give an exit interview to try to find out why they were quitting. Obviously, the TCSS does not care. Our teachers and other employees of the TCSS who have daily contact with our students deserve much better.

My suggestions for improvement:

1) Have board members and central office cabinet members and the superintendent substitute teach at our middle and high schools for at least four days per school year.

2) Stop hiring from outside TCSS; we have plenty of qualified people in the system who need the promotions.

3) Stop asking for class-size waivers — placing more students in the classroom than the law allows; dumping on the teachers.

4) Have exit interviews with any employee who leaves on their own or is terminated.

5) Stop principals from allowing troublemakers to return right back to the teacher that sent the student to the principal in the first place.

6) Solicit an independent volunteer(s) to meet with teachers periodically and record any complaints and suggestions without names being recorded or fear of repercussion. These volunteers must not have any ties whatsoever with TCSS.

7) Uniforms for all schools — knit golf shirts tucked in and khaki slacks — improve behavior, reduces bullying.

Tommy Callaway

LaGrange

Editor’s note: After this letter was initially submitted, four teachers and 15 parapros announced their resignations.