Teacher exodus continues at Troup County School System

Published 6:55 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Dear Editor,

Three years ago I wrote a Letter to the Editor concerning the mass exodus of the teachers and paraprofessional educators from Troup County School System. Today, I could simply change the date on that letter to today’s date and re-submit the same letter.

I  printed off all the Troup County Board of Education meeting minutes for the past year (June 14, 2017- July 17, 2018) and highlighted all the Teachers and paraprofessional educators who have quit. There are 94 teachers and 41 paraprofessional educators who have quit this past year, compared to 111 teachers and 46 paraprofessional educators who had quit three years ago. These numbers do not include the great number of  teachers and paraprofessional educators who “retired” recently, nor did it include those few who were fired.

Turnover at neighboring school systems continues to be extremely low. When so many employees leave a place of employment, there must be a serious problem. Generally, such extremely high turnover 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 totem pole, and I believe that this ongoing turnover reflects my belief.

Our teachers and paraprofessional educators have daily contact with our children and grandchildren. No one is going to be at their peak potential if they are unhappy at their workplace. Our teachers and paraprofessional educators 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 are compelled to work under. Our Central Office scoffs whenever you bring up the fact that there is a tremendous discipline problem in our local schools, and that teacher morale is very low. 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 you either visit a classroom, or better yet, do a little substitute teaching. Don’t doubt that teacher morale is low either.

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

My suggestions for improvement:

4School Board needs to replace top leadership immediately, even if we suffer a severance penalty. The terribly low teacher morale and high turnover has gone on for too long.

4Have board members and Central Office Cabinet members substitute teach at our middle and high schools for at least four days per school year.

4Stop hiring from outside TCSS. We have plenty of qualified people in the system who need the promotions.

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

4The Human Resource Department must insist on having exit interviews with any employee who leaves TCSS.

4Stop falsifying Incident Reports that go to the state.

4Stop principals from allowing troublemakers to return right back to the teacher that sent the student to the principal in the first place. Stop principals from telling our teachers to handle discipline problems themselves instead of sending trouble makers to the office.

4Solicit 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.

4Uniforms for all schools — knit golf shirts tucked in and khaki slacks. Uniforms will improve behavior and reduce bullying.

4Parents and grandparents need to get involved by calling or e-mailing the school board members and demanding immediate change. The board members’ e-mail addresses may be found at Troup.k12.ga.us/districtBoardEd.aspx.  Or call the Central Office at (706) 812-7900.

Tommy Callaway

(706) 302-6211