Jones: Something needs to be done about the school system | Local News

Morale within the Franklin County school system and its 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 being run at a December 6 board workshop and said academic performance had declined to the point where action needed to be taken to get the system back on track.

The board agreed to focus on five target areas, including:

• Better support teachers and take measures to boost morale.

• Improve test scores and students’ 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 people with bachelor’s degrees earn outside teaching licenses. traditional ways.

The council discussed how teachers have left the system, following a national trend, and how other avenues should be considered to recruit and train them.

Alice Rolli, Vice President of Strategy at iTeach, explained iTeach’s approaches and explained how bachelor’s degree holders can become teachers after a 14-month period involving a self-paced online program that costs significantly less expensive than earning a four-year teaching degree.

However, Jones said the hurdles the school system faces extend to taking easier steps to recruit more teachers.

She told the council that she had spoken to several teachers and principals about what they felt was wrong with the school system.

“Business people have problems with the school system. Teachers are leaving us,” Jones said. “One thing I learned in my conversations with people is that they are disappointed with us.

“They feel like we’re shifting the responsibility to other people. and we are not doing our job. For my part, I think that looking at this, they may be right.

Jones said the council had a problem saying the school system had a problem.

“We are the best people to elect a principal and help establish the reputation of our school system,” she said, adding, “I want to talk about what’s really going on in our school system. … I’m really, really worried that we have too many people – too many teachers – who are unhappy.

“We have too many teachers who want to leave us. We have too many teachers who say morale is the lowest they’ve ever seen. We have too many teachers who feel they cannot depend on their principal or principals, and especially on us, and we need to fix that.

Jones said system issues cannot be addressed in a shop meeting involving a staffing firm.

“I’m sorry,” she said. “I just don’t think it’s going to solve that problem. I am very moved because I represent these people and I want us to do something to lift our spirits.

“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 you provide a solution. and I respect that. But we are the ones who are going to have to help, and we are going to have to decide what is wrong with our school system – how do we fix it? – and then make sure we fix it.

She said she took notes of the problems.

“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’s consulted with other residents who don’t have kids in the school system and they’re having trouble about it. She added that they said they were “embarrassed” by the school system.

“We have to do something,” Jones said.

She explained that she has reached out to the community about their concerns and what they feel needs to be done to improve the school system.

“Maybe that’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 your way down to include everyone in the building, whether it’s teachers, caretakers or what. We need to rebuild our reputation.

She then referred specifically to teachers.

“They’re upset because they don’t feel supported,” she says. “They are upset because they feel like no one is supporting them.

“They are upset because they are very frustrated with the learning loss. They say “why did we take some of the best teachers out of our classrooms and they act like our boss”… From what I hear, it’s not working.

“The teacher in the class is working as hard as she can and has another teacher, maybe a less experienced teacher. …another teacher coming in and criticizing, telling her to do this paperwork, telling her 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 don’t need help telling them how to teach, and they want to see more presence of system leaders on their campuses.

“They want to see us in buildings,” she said. “They want to see the manager in the building. They want to know someone cares.

“I’ve heard that over and over again. It’s that statement that upsets me so much now because, if we have teachers listening to us, and we tell them that we have a workshop on recruitment, retention…”

Jones said the message sent to teachers is that the system is hiring new teachers instead of getting to the root of the problems plaguing the system.

A member of the school board 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 I got it. I wish I could give you 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 agrees that 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 impacted the teaching profession.

“How do you support the family on a teacher’s salary?” she asked. “Do you know that it is difficult to imagine someone living on this salary alone? »

Jeremy S. McLain