DeKalb County School System is in a lawsuit with their own teachers, having been served a complaint in June, 2011. In 2009, the school board – along with superintendent Crawford Lewis and later held up by Ramona Tyson as well as now, Michael Thurmond – in an effort to cut budget spending, reneged on a 1979 promise to make 6% contributions to a tax sheltered annuity (TSA) [completely separate from the state teachers retirement system (TRS)], which was paid into individual employee accounts, in lieu of participating in Social Security. Board policy at the time stated that the board was required to give teachers a two-year notification of any change to the retirement program. Instead, in 2010, the board, simply changed its own policy!
As a consequence of this, and other actions showing disregard for teachers, literally hundreds of DeKalb teachers have since resigned. Our team painstakingly cobbled together the numbers of teacher resignations as best we could, from Sept, 2012 – Sept, 2013 HR reports. Below are our findings:
|Monthly HR Report||Teacher/Prof Resignations|
And many more have left the system since this report! Dr. Ward-Smith, head of HR, has stated there are around 6,500 teachers in the school system, which makes the teacher turnover rate around 17% by our calculations. (Ward-Smith has been reporting about 6-7% but she is not assessing turnover over time, she is focusing on individual time frames to generate better looking numbers.)
In defense of the status quo, one blogger recently stated that the solution was to replace them as fast as they are quitting! That’s absurd! And impossible – experienced teachers are not applying here and top college students majoring in education are told to steer clear of DeKalb – because we do not value teachers.
We have to get a handle on the exodus of teachers. That means better, more informed, courageous leadership at the top. Leaders who commit to spending on the classroom first – bottom up budgeting as was promised by Dr. Atkinson but never implemented. Now, Michael Thurmond has no plans or discussions about teacher retention. We need to make teachers and their principals our most important employees, however, the superintendent and the board seem unconcerned about the issue or worse, in denial of the problem. Our attitudes need to shift, or we will simply find ourselves with too few qualified teachers and an inability to get the simple task of educating children done–in spite of collecting and spending $1.25 Billion in tax dollars for the DeKalb schools consolidated budget every year.