Morale within the Franklin County school system and reputation are at an all-time low, and something needs to be done about it, according to board member Linda Jones.
Jones criticized the way the system is run at a board workshop on December 6 and said academic performance has declined to the point where action needs to be taken to get the system back on track.
The board agreed to focus on five target areas, including:
• Provide better support for teachers and take measures to improve morale.
• Improve student test scores and reading ability.
• Improve the conditions that affect the social and mental health of students and teachers.
• Improve the salary structure of teachers.
• Improve public perception of the school system.
Jones gave an impassioned speech after the board heard a presentation on iTeach, a nationally accredited online alternative teacher certification program that helps bachelor’s degree holders obtain bachelor’s degrees. teaching outside the traditional ways.
The board discussed how teachers have left the system, following a nationwide trend, and how other avenues should be considered to recruit and train them.
Alice Rolli, iTeach Vice President, Strategy, explained iTeach’s approaches and how those with a bachelor’s degree can become a teacher after a 14-month period involving a self-paced online program that costs much less than ” obtain a four-year teaching diploma.
However, Jones said the obstacles the school system faces extend far and wide by taking easier steps to get more teachers.
She told the board that she had spoken to several teachers and principals about what they saw as a problem with the school system.
“Business people have problems with the school system. The teachers are leaving us, ”Jones said. “One thing I have learned in my conversations with people is that they are disappointed in us.
“They feel like we are passing the blame on to other people. and that we are not doing our job. Personally, I think looking at this maybe they are right.
Jones said the board has a problem saying the school system has a problem.
“We’re the best at electing a principal and helping to build the reputation of our school system,” she said, adding, “I want to talk about what’s really going on in our system. school. … I am really very concerned that too many people – too many teachers – are unhappy.
“We have too many teachers who want to leave us. We have too many teachers saying morale is the lowest they’ve ever seen. We have too many teachers who think that they cannot depend on their principal or their principals, and especially on us, and we must fix this.
Jones said the system issues cannot be resolved in a workshop meeting involving a recruiting company.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just don’t think that’s going to solve this problem. I am very moved about this because I represent these people and I want us to do something to cheer ourselves up.
“I want us to do something to make our teachers want to stay in Franklin County. I do not know what it is.
Jones then told his fellow board members, “You always say make a solution. and I respect that. But we’re the ones who are going to have to help, and we’re going to have to decide what’s wrong with our school system – how to fix it? – and then make sure we fix it.
She said she took notes on the issues.
“Some of the things I’ve written and heard make me want to cry,” Jones said, adding, “It’s worse than we thought. I have a real estate agent who says’ I don’t can’t tell people who want to move to Franklin County that we have a good school system. “
She also said she had consulted with other residents who did not have children in the school system and that they were having issues about it. She added that they said they are “embarrassed” by the school system.
“We have to do something,” Jones said.
She explained that she had contacted the community about their concerns and the steps they felt should be taken to improve the school system.
“Maybe it’s a solution, maybe not,” Jones said. “But that’s the kind of thing we have to do as these eight people sitting here – start at the top and work down to include everyone in the building, whether it’s the teachers, the guards or whatever.” . We need to rebuild our reputation.
She then referred specifically to teachers.
“They are unhappy because they don’t feel supported,” she said. “They are upset because they feel like no one is supporting them.
“They are unhappy because they are so frustrated with the loss of learning. They say ‘Why have we taken some of the best teachers out of our classes and they are acting like our bosses’… This is not working from what I hear.
“The teacher who is in the classroom works as hard as she can and has another teacher, perhaps a teacher with less experience. … Another teacher comes in and criticizes, tells him to do this paperwork, tells him how to plan, when these teachers are begging “please just help me with my kids.” My children are failing, my children are drowning. I need help with my children.
Jones said educators didn’t need help telling them how to teach and wanted to see more of the system’s leaders on their campuses.
“They want to see us in the buildings,” she said. “They want to see the director in the building. They want to know that someone cares.
“I have heard this over and over again. It is this statement that overwhelms me now because, if we have teachers listening to us and telling them that we are having a workshop on recruitment, retention… ”
Jones said the message to teachers is that the system is hiring new teachers instead of getting to the root of the problems plaguing the system.
A school board member then said that the way to solve the problem is to listen to what the teachers have to say.
“That’s what I did,” Jones said. ” ” I listened. I asked, I begged for information, and got it. I wish I could give you some positive feedback, but I can’t.
“And I know there are some who just want to share the negative, but that’s how they do it now. They all feel the negative – the weight of the world on their shoulders. “
Board member Christine Hopkins agreed, saying teachers need to be heard and the school board needs to set goals accordingly.
“The saddest thing is that they didn’t feel valued and supported,” she said, referring to teachers in the system.
School board member Sarah Marhevsky said financial conditions have also had an impact on the teaching profession.
“How do you support the family with a teacher’s salary?” She asked. “Do you know it’s hard to imagine someone living on that salary alone?”