Letter: Schools need to address discipline, teacher dissatisfaction

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 28, 2016

Dear editor and readers,

After reading this letter, I ask you to take the time to go to your computer, tablet or phone and find the survey results shown at http://www.gadoe.org/External-Affairs-and-Policy/communications/Documents/Teacher%20Survey%20Results.pdf. This is a Georgia Department of Education survey taken of over 53,000 teachers in the state of Georgia. The survey was made in order to find some reason that 44 percent of public school teachers in the state leave within the first five years of employment.

As a retired teacher who spends many hours each week working with elementary children enrolled in our county schools, I am disturbed, and even appalled, by what I see and hear. I am appalled that the only thing that seems to get the attention of our school leaders is money.

I have received phone calls asking about my standing on E-SPLOST (education special-purpose, local-option sales tax). I have attended a public forum led by Byron Jones. I have been lectured to by some retired teachers whose pocketbooks are their main concern.

I have attended a candidates’ forum where all candidates contending for school board positions have been effusive in their support of E-SPLOST. Finally, I have heard and agreed with the logic of having sales tax payers from inside and outside the county bring in the funds.

If I did not know the behavioral conditions within our schools, the pathetic level of academic achievement beginning in the lowest levels of elementary and extending through high school, and the totally unacceptable graduation rate, I would be convinced that the E-SPLOST is made of gold.

I contend that, until we fix the foundation, every red cent we spend, whether E-SPLOST or regular tax receipts, is money down a black hole. It is a hole that is growing deeper and wider every day.

Yes, we have many students who excel. Almost without exception, those are students with parents who make the education of their children a top priority. However, reality is that the majority of our population does not fit in that category.

The children who live without that parental support are just as important as the ones who come from the best and most supportive homes. Their education is more important, because it is the only ticket they have to a better life. They’re the ones who will not be educated unless our local schools become equipped to help them succeed.

It will not happen with larger schools, more beautiful buildings, more technology and certainly not with teachers who are being driven to the edge by unproductive and impossible demands. What kind of life will your protected and educated children and grandchildren be left with when they are surrounded by a vast majority of uneducated and angry populace?

It amazes me the amount of time spent trying to convince taxpayers to vote yes to E-SPLOST. When the superintendent and board decide to close a smaller school, multiple meetings are held to attempt to convince taxpayers that there is no other option.

When a survey is concluded with the results in the above link, where is the concern of the superintendent and school board to get to the bottom of that? Where are the public forums to discuss the problem and discuss possible solutions?

There are answers. They do not come from the federal or state governments. We have them right here in Troup County, embodied in current teachers and retired teachers.

There are many retired teachers with golden years of teaching left in them who have left because they cannot bear to see what our schools have become. There are dedicated young teachers with skills they are not encouraged or allowed to use in our lock step curriculum.

Why can we not have forums to address those answers, where the superintendent and school board come to listen and learn, not to lecture and dismiss? There are many ways the teacher can be taught, the leader can be led, and it all begins with communication.

To our superintendent and school board, this is YOUR watch, YOUR legacy. Are you satisfied to leave a trail of destroyed lives walking out of beautiful state of the art buildings?

When are we going to have some discussion about what is going on inside those buildings?

Becky Grubbs