Why do Georgia’s teachers leave?

About half of all teachers leave the profession within five years, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

The state spends more than $400 million a year replacing them, according to the Georgia Professional Standards Commission.

Researchers at Georgia State University spent more than two years studying teacher retention in the metro Atlanta area.

Their conclusions won’t surprise many of you.

Teachers stay if they have a good relationship with their co-workers and administrators. They remain if the school emphasizes student success and teachers receive the tools and freedom to improve learning.

Teachers leave when they feel they lack power and can’t express their concerns and opinions. They quit follow battles over school policies and teaching philosophies.

The researchers developed what they described as way for teachers to determine which schools would be the best fit. They said principals and others could use the tool when assigning teachers to different schools.

Why do you think teachers leave the profession? What can principals, administrators and school board members do to keep teachers?

83 comments Add your comment

Do you even have to ask?

June 5th, 2009
8:45 am

Lack of support in matters of holding students accountable in both academics and discipline. What school officials and school board members can do is develop the political will to address this.

Yet when is the last time you heard an administrator, or school board member come out and say that they need to do a better job when it comes to supporting our teachers with the authority to hold students accountable?

Finally - Summer!!!

June 5th, 2009
9:20 am

Teachers leave the profession because one can only take so much psychological abuse by the public, the MEDIA, parents, administrators, and CHILDREN while being expected to work too many hours (during the school year) and days (during the summer) off contract without compensation before soemthing has to change. Granted the benefits are usually good, and I do “feel lucky to have a job in this economy,” but how many other professions directly impact the futures of EVERYONE?! The respect given to the profession in the US pales in comparison to that shown in other countries. Granted, not all teachers are treated that way but the ones who leave the profession may agree with the analysis. Also, there are too many people who enter the profession with the false impression that anyone can teach. I hate to disappoint those who think all they have to do is show up and have warm fuzzy moments, but teaching is HARD work. I suspect most of the ones who leave the profession are ones who are not “called” to teach and are unwilling to take the bad days with the good days for the sake of helping shape the futures of our cherubs.

The Downey effect

June 5th, 2009
9:42 am

In general, we have lost our will to hold children accountable for their actions. Call it the Downey affect, named after Maureen “blame teachers first, blame students never” Downey.

Look at her Monday column for a prime example, where she whines that police arrested two students for having a water balloon. The meanies!

No Maureen, they did not. Read your own words. They arrested them for disobeying a DIRECT ORDER from a law enforcement official. Perhaps if they had been taught in public schools that DIRECT ORDERS from authority figures need to be followed, they wouldn’t have felt so empowered to disobey a law enforcement officer’s directive.

Bottom line we aren’t giving teachers the authority to do the job, then we, lead by people like Downey, are blaming them for the job not being done. And then we whine about teachers leaving, without even beginning to understand how we as a society are the cause of it.

Joy in Teaching

June 5th, 2009
10:04 am

I just finished up my 21st year in the classroom this past week. During that time, my power as a teacher has been greatly diminshed by administrators, parents, and society in general.

Administrators have become more afraid of lawsuits. My principal told us in a recent faculty meeting that she gets anywhere from 100 to 250 phone calls from parents on any given day. Which woudln’t be bad, if the only thing she had to do was field phone calls.

Parents have become more and more rabid. A colleague of mine (and first year teacher) recently had a parent complain about an 89 in a class from TWO quarters ago. Apparently, they didn’t even notice until the end of the year. A few years ago, I had to go back to school for a parentteacher/principal conference in JULY because of a grade given on a test during third quarter. My response? “Damn. Let me just give the kid a 100 on the test and be done with it.” The parent? “No, that isn’t good enough you need to REALLY BELIEVE that you were in the wrong and my angel is correct.” The principal? “Mrs. _______, is there any way you can really believe that you were wrong? It doesn’t matter what the books say about Shakespeare.”

And society wants things without having to work for them. Students want the nice expensive things, but they don’t want to work and save for them. Notice the whole credit crisis? The current crop of students are the “we want it now!” generation.

When I hear of students thinking about becoming teachers, I strongly encourage them to at least become trained in something to fall back on if they decide that teaching isn’t for them. When I work with first year teachers as a mentor, I really try to lift them up and listen to them without screaming “get out now while you still can!”

Why don’t I get out? There is no way that I could and still make the same salary as I don’t have a “back up plan.” And my family needs the income. So…I endure. Hopeing that, perhaps, society will change so that I can get back to actually doing a job that I once loved…and still secretly dream about: teaching children.


June 5th, 2009
10:11 am

When a first grader is allowed to physically abuse you, that is enough of a reason for most people to leave. But I am an optimist, who is determined to effect changes in the way we handle discipline at my school. I am also young and childless which means I have time to try. And my absolute favorite thing about teaching so far, is that you get a “do-over” every year. I have yet to have a class that I wish I could loop with the following year. Discipline is a major problem.


June 5th, 2009
11:08 am

Principals are the reason many leave. You wouldn’t believe some of the unfair practices principals inflict upon teachers. Many teachers are driven away by some tyrant principal. The sad thing is that principals have “absolute power” … hear me, ABSOLUTE POWER to impact a teacher’s career. They have ways and means of inflicting terror on a teacher mostly because of something that has nothing to do with the teacher’s job performance. Personal agendas. Hint: Warning to ANYONE who teaches at Cobb County’s Russell Elementary School. This lady is so evil that one of her “young” teacher’s dropped dead this past year and much of the reason had to be the stress inflicted on her by this principal. There are other examples of abuse at this same school.

For those who have taken a job working at the new Springlake Park Elem in Atlanta, watch your back. Just a hint.


June 5th, 2009
11:31 am

Very often it’s the principal. As much as I hate the expression, I’m going to say it anyway…”Trust Me.” Principals are given absolute power to destroy a teacher. It’s true that some people are not cut out to teach, but many are and they have the misfortune of getting an evil principal. Watch your back if you have that kind. When you sit back and watch them destroy a coworker, PLEASE KNOW that you can become the next target of principals like that. Ex. Russell Elem in Cobb County. We are positive that one reason a “young” teacher on her faculty dropped dead last year was at least partly because of the severe stress this lady inflicted on her. There are others in that same school that she out right abused…and the teachers know this…so if you are there or are going there, WATCH YOUR BACK. That absolute power that principals have is a real problem in schools. Another hint: If you are assigned to work at the new Springlate Park Elem in Atlanta, WATCH YOUR BACK.


June 5th, 2009
11:39 am

WOW, when I tried to send first post, my computer froze and I had to end task using Task Manager. I had no idea it was going to post. Ouch. I was aggitated that I had lost what I typed…I thought I had anyway.

Cobb Teacher

June 5th, 2009
12:29 pm

Joy, you are not the only one who sees that there is a problem in many schools. Cobb County is certainly not an exception. Instead of investigating allegations, it appears that the district office would rather wait until the state gets involved. Those with “ABSOLUTE POWER” tend to get their direction from those higher up.

[...] Get Schooled | ajc.com – [...]

NF Teacher

June 5th, 2009
1:04 pm

As one who just finished his 17th year of teaching, I can say that the atmosphere is worse than it was when I started. The fear of the lawsuit has turned some good administrators into spineless beings while the evil ones become even more paranoid and two-faced.

While any minute mistake that happens in the classroom is magnified 100-fold, parents for the most part do not accept the fact that their child is not the perfect angel. Sometimes when mistakes by their children are acknowledged, the parent wants no consequence for their child. No failing grade, no detention or suspension, etc.

So why am I still in the classroom? Like Joy in Teaching, I have my family to help support. Also, I still enjoy the new challenges I receive from day to day. I just wish that administration (include the school board on this, too, because they are an additional dimension to this) would have the character to tell the PIMA parents to take a long walk off a short pier.

jim d

June 5th, 2009
1:11 pm


uhmm, remember that your superiors also have to answer to those up the ladder. They are simply doing as they are directed to do. You want to change current practices? Change the school board members. Till then quit complaining about middle management.

jim d

June 5th, 2009
1:20 pm

Gee folks,

Scan thru these, http://news.aol.com/article/teacher-sex-michigan/515385?icid=sphere_newsaol_inpage. you might be surprised as to why SOME teachers leave.


June 5th, 2009
1:28 pm

It is insulting that you even have to ask this question. Anyone who needs has to ask why teachers leave the classroom is either a complete moron or just does not listen to teachers, because we have been stating the reasons quite clearly for years on this very blog and many other ways. One word – DISCIPLINE. The response to this is always that the teacher simply has poor classroom management and is a complete and utter copout for administration avoiding reality. Good classroom management should effectively deal with NORMAL behavior. However, what teachers commonly deal with now is nothing short of abuse. I don’t trust that the DOE or most administrators will or are even able to fix this situation. The only thing I faith in is that enough parents will be fed up enough to become more vocal about the type of behavior that is tolerated and thus prevents their child from learning. I’m actually hoping for a lawsuit. The only reason this isn’t happening is that parents are not aware how bad the situation has gotten, even in the “good” schools. I am surprised that folks don’t seem to making the connection between how many students now need remedial help in college and classroom behavior. It is obviously not true that they are not capable of learning the basic curriculum since they do learn it in college, but that they can’t learn it in the zoolike environment we call classrooms. Parents, please complain loudly! That is the only thing that the DOE/pathetic administrators seem to care about. Demand that your children learn in an appropriate environment! As for the tired old “you’re just boring them” excuse well, more hands-on, etc. is just not going to happen with students that are out of control. Higher standards for academics ARE NOT achievable without also having higher standards for behavior. GPS is a waste of time without the correct environment. I promise that we could recruit/keep a better crop of teachers if we provided better learning environments. Right now, we should be thankful we have any good teachers left.


June 5th, 2009
1:30 pm

A less wordy response for the DOE: Demand better behavior from students to create an environment in which teachers can teach and students can learn. This is not the only problem, but the only one that matters until we resolve it.


June 5th, 2009
1:45 pm

Jim D, until we provide better working conditions for teachers (i.e. an environment suitable for actual teaching) we can expect even worse teachers than the one in the link. We should strive to attract a large pool of qualified employees so that we can choose the best. It is no secret that this is currently not the case. IMO, we are fortunate to have the quality that we do have.

jim d

June 5th, 2009
2:04 pm


go back to the link–there were actually 13 teachers–scan thru the pics.

While i agree that working conditions must improve to attract the right kind of people to the profession I fear there will always be those attracted to it for the wrong reasons. As for the improvements? I have said it a million times–”only teachers can bring about a change in their working conditions.” The public really doesn’t give a damn.


June 5th, 2009
3:36 pm

Jim D, I do think teachers have the power to change things, but for lots of reasons already discussed in this blog don’t. That is why my only hope is that parents will rise up and demand better learning environments by forcing the removal of discipline problems. DOE won’t remove them on behalf of a teacher’s complaint, but may find a place for them to go if enough parents demand it. For the life of me, I don’t understand why this hasn’t happened yet. Parents have more power than teachers, and admin can’t punish them with extra duties and responsibilities! Go parents!

jim d

June 5th, 2009
4:09 pm


“teachers have the power to change things, but for lots of reasons already discussed in this blog don’t.”

Then I respectfully suggest less lamentation on your behalf when our host asks the question. Anyone unwilling to help themself deserves no assistance. Coal miners, police, steel workers and yes even garbage men have brought improvement to their working conditions. Yet teachers won’t or can’t empower themselves to institute change? (a sad state of affairs)


June 5th, 2009
5:12 pm

As someone who taught high school in Georgia before going back to graduate school for a Ph.D. and then moving up to teach at the college level, the reason why so many teachers leave is obvious. It boils down to working conditions. People don’t go into teaching at any level because it is easy or for the money. I know it may be akin to heresy to say this, but more money isn’t the solution to education’s problems. People become teachers because they love to teach and want to make a different in the lives of their students. Most college professors at two and four year institutions in Georgia work long hours and often are actually paid less than secondary teachers with comparable degrees. Yet colleges in Georgia have no problem whatsoever in hiring and retaining quality faculty members. In fact, it isn’t unusual for a college to receive 50-100 applications for each tenure-track teaching position. The reason things are basically the opposite at the college level is because the working conditions are 20 times better. Let me give a few examples:

DISCIPLINE: At the high school level, teachers are forced to deal with all kinds of discipline problems. Much of their time is spend doing the work of a social worker or a police officer instead of teaching. And because schools are so afraid of lawsuits or parents who think their children are angels, teachers often have their hands tied to actually discipline their students. At the college level, discipline problems are virtually non-existent.

ADMINISTRATION: At the high school level, the administration has an enormous amount of power, while teachers have very little. While the administration does regulate, oversee, and evaluate professors, instructors at the college level have a great deal of freedom in the classroom.

PARENTS: Although many parents are supportive of teachers, many are not. In fact, many parents refuse to discipline their children and become angry at teachers when little Johnny misbehaves or does poorly in class. At the college level, professors do not deal with parents at all. In fact, since college students are over 18 and are legally adults, professors are forbidden from speaking to parents unless their child authorizes them to do so. Thus, at the college level, professors don’t have to hold little Johnny’s hand. If he is lazy, doesn’t ask for help, and doesn’t do his work, he fails the course plain and simple. And if he flunks out of college, that is his problem, not his professor’s.

I realize that high school students are not adults, nor are they generally as motivated or mature as college students. Nonetheless, I believe that high schools could stand to learn quite a bit about how to improve working conditions for teachers from how things are done at the college level. And they could both improve the quality of education and save hundreds of millions of dollars in the process.



June 5th, 2009
8:15 pm

Doesn’t the research say it all? Clearly, teachers leave when they feel unable to perform their job….. unsupportive parents, unsupportive administration, no supplies, etc. Who would stay under those conditions?

No one gets into teaching for the money. Most get into the profession with hopes to help the children and have a positive impact on their future.

As a high school teacher, I find it VERY frustrating to have a principal that wants us to be “friendly” to the children because they think that teachers are “mean.” What??? I am not there to be friends with students. I am there to be their teacher. Administrators like this run good teachers away.

This same principal has a rule that he wants teachers to enforce – no hats in the building. First of all, shouldn’t parents be teaching their kids these manners? Secondly, when teachers ask students to take off the hat, they ignore us or even have a smart remark to us. Thirdly, when students with hats on walk right by the principal, he says NOTHING. What kind of leader is this????

I am fed up. Although I am barely pass the 5 year mark, I think that it’s more than enough time for me. GA needs good educational leaders. That will keep the good teachers.


June 5th, 2009
8:38 pm

I left teaching in Gwinnett County 13 years ago for Delta and never looked back. I loved my co-workers and loved the actual teaching part of my job; but, the pay and lack of respect for teachers are atrocious. The questions about career choice usually came with a bit of added sarcasm as a male teacher. Enough was enough. I just simply walked away after two years. I immediately increased my salary by 50% and never again had to answer the question “why are you a teacher?” No regrets and I would never go back.

Mari Forquer

June 5th, 2009
8:42 pm

I agree discipline problems are probably one of the major reasons secondary teachers leave the field. Certainly, at the elementary school level, a teacher who is required to tolerate verbal and physical abuse is not about to stick around. And yes, parental attitude is a large part of that problem. I ask, though, why a student who doesn’t want to be in a classroom in grades K-12 has ever been asked why not? Maybe we are beyond the stage in our educational development as a society where every student wants or needs an academic education. Maybe more emphasis on technical schools as a first choice for secondary level students is in order. I’d like to see this given more attention and emphasis. Don’t want to be here? Where do you want to go? This is a simplistic answer to a complex problem, but why should a 15 year old be forced to learn a subject they have absolutely no interest in, and denied the opportunity to learn what they are interested in? We’ve been stuck in this cog stile for far too long. Time for some innovative thinking.


June 5th, 2009
8:43 pm

Reasons articulated in this article are not surprising …..sad, but not surprising. Have seen school administrators all over the Country. Good ones are dynamite, and test scores show it; graduation rates show it; and the morale of teachers show it. The reverse is also true, but too many of our superintendents and boards of education do not want to face reality when it comes to removal of administrators who cannot do the job. It is just too difficult for higher level bureaucrats and local politicians to stomach. There was a time when discipline was required in school — our experience today is that we put way too much focus on being politically correct, and a lot less focus on deportment and learning. A professional teacher will eventually say, “NO THANKS” to a job babysitting of teenagers who’s parents failed at parenting!!


June 5th, 2009
8:45 pm

It goes both ways parents and teachers…where were the teachers and principals in the mid-70s when I was constantly harrassed daily by my peers of students and yes, sometimes teachers taunt me too for being different having hearing impairment and slight scoliosis (curvature of spine by birth). I strived to better my grades so I could graduate high school and move away. After graduation, I received a scholarship to college about hour away and studied computers. Later on campus, I met a man who became my husband who also had the same experience I did. He is also hearing handicap and he had it far worse than I did. Both of us had each other to confide in how we both endured torments and we both learned no one called either of our parents about what transpired during each day at our school with exception to one of my beloved teacher. I had a blessed teacher sent to me by the LORD who specialized in helping handicapped children and she watched over me during middle, junior, and high school to ensure that I understood my materials. She often stood up and defended me in my other classes when teachers were giving me a hard time. She passed away Dec 07 and I thanked the LORD for her being there for me all these years. My husband was not so fortunate. His parent learned too late of his tramatic painful taunts and they had the means to transfer him to a private school system because Christian discipline that was taught there. It is a miracle that we found each other and that we did not commit suicide as we see children do today. Nowadays, parents or students can sue at drop of a hat. We had no choice back then to do such a thing, and how could we had very little rights. Remember the “children be seen not heard?” How tramatic!!! As we grew older we forgave those who hurt us. We gave birth a girl who is now 12 years old, who is gifted and has no handicap. LORD blessed us with this child and yes, even I sometimes want to pull my own hair out when she gets defiant, but she has far far more smarts and understanding concepts than we ever did at her age. She can think for herself and acts as if she is the adult of the house but we often remind her who is really boss. Our environment and our discipline of her is that we want the best for her and to learn and be able to do whatever her heart desires when she grows up. It is not easy at all displine-wise as we try to see from parent, teacher, student perspectives. How can I explain to my daughter that we don’t have sufficient income for us to put her in private school for higher learning or teachers give huge amounts of homework equal to that of first year college courses, she still has to be taught!!! Teachers, if you don’t want to endure the daily heartaches, if you don’t like to teach government schools, try teaching private school or at least a college. It does no one good if all you see daily is negative environment….I hope this helps someone who read my post today. God Bless!!!


June 5th, 2009
8:46 pm

I was an educator until retirement. I have three of four children teaching. All of us can not imagine ever doing otherwise as careers. However, We all agreed that if we did not have 100% backing in student discipline matters and related dealings with parents we would be else where or move to a different professional area. This occurred in my career once prior to retirement. I was able to relocate to another district, with a slight pay cut, but was completely backed by my administrators for the final ten years of my career.


June 5th, 2009
9:13 pm

Most teachers who leave in the first five years do so because (1) they realize the job is harder and more time consuming than they have been led to believe; (2) they realize they can’t manage a classroom; (3) they don’t pass the necessary tests to keep their job; and (4) they don’t pass their probatiinary period and thus are let go by the system. They can blame administrators, parents, and the system. However, those who really want to teach and who can teach know that those who leave have only themselves to blame.


June 5th, 2009
9:26 pm

I have just finished my 15th year and teaching and I echo the sentiments of many here. One of the main problems is PARENTS. If a parent does not get their way, then the administration (at the school and the central office) tend to cave and give the parent what they want. This sends a message to the child that complaining works and you don’t really have to work that hard to get what you want. The child then comes and continues to disrespect the teacher, disregard authority, and disrupt the entire learning process. Often times, teachers feel like they are better off leaving than staying and being disrespected by children, parents, and administrators.

GA Administrator

June 5th, 2009
9:36 pm

I am saddened to read many of the responses on this forum, yet I do realize that for many that leave, the above described situations are true. As a result of that reality for so many new teachers I have held New Teacher Reflection meetings for all 1st year teachers in my bulding every 6 weeks. I also pride myself on the fact that my Assistant Principal and I attempt to support teachers as much as we can. In order for this to be an “absoulute support” situation, teachers need to make sure they are following through of established protocal at all times. When that happens it is much easier for the school leaders to support teachers.

As far as the impact that school board members have on how school level administrators support or don’t support teachers…I feel their influence is minimal. The school board directs the actions of teh Superintendent, not the school principals. If you have a principal that you feel is treating you unfairly, don’t blame anyone but the principal. You do have people you can talk to. You can communicate with your central office administrators, your school board members, or the Georgia Professional Standards Commission. All of these are places you can file grievences. The key is that you must be willing to say who you are when you file these grievences.

Also, one bad principal shouldn’t make you change your career path. Simply change schools.

The AD

June 5th, 2009
9:37 pm

So what has changed over the years? It really is simple, kids today will try to see what they can get away with. Just like kids 20,30 and 40 years ago did. Kids haven’t changed at all, parents on the other hand have changed. Parents are no longer seen as the disciplinarians in their household, so that falls on teachers. When teachers have to be teachers, parents, counselors, and coaches, there is a problem. This is not just a problem in poor inner city or rural areas. Many affluent parents had rather have their child like them and be their friend than have to discipline their kids.


June 5th, 2009
9:49 pm

I would be more interested to see the results of a study showing how many of the educators who leave teaching within five years, come back to the profession once they discover that they don’t get 12 weeks off a year in the corporate world and gain tons of weight sitting at a desk 10 hours a day. Education definitely has its flaws, but I can’t imagine it has more problems than any other profession. After six years in the corporate world, my spouse left his business job for teaching and hasn’t looked back. I sure get jealous when I get home when its dark and he’s already been home for hours enjoying the daylight and spending time with family.

Its not that hard to figure out

June 5th, 2009
9:51 pm

As someone compared college and lower grades as to why teachers leave…its this simple. Its public versus private. Public schools must allow ALL children in no matter what behavioral, academic or family challenges. Private schools can be choosy and usually their tuitions weed out most. When you pay for an education directly out of your pocket you put more energy and expect more from your child.

Of course lack of resources, support by administration and parental involvement make an impact, if a teacher cannot get a child to love to learn and love to listen then it doesn’t matter how horrible your principal is or how little money you have. That child sucks all the life and energy out of you.


June 5th, 2009
9:58 pm

Discipline (not being supported) and out of touch administrators at every level who could NEVER do what they expect teachers to do. In fact, for many, the reason they are out of the classroom is BECAUSE they were not effective teachers. They keep getting kicked upstairs.

Our principal seems to have this rule: If the staff gets a compliment from someone outside the school (someone who comes to observe us in order to emulate us) she is quick to fire off one or two negative emails about how we can and will improve. Unfortunately we get a lot of compliments from those wishing to replicate our “success.” Would that we were less successful.

Its not that hard to figure out

June 5th, 2009
9:58 pm

“After six years in the corporate world, my spouse left his business job for teaching and hasn’t looked back. I sure get jealous when I get home when its dark and he’s already been home for hours enjoying the daylight and spending time with family.”

Your first sentence is offensive to teachers. Those 12 weeks which by the way, you offset by the fact that alot of teachers come in early and stay late by at least an hour a day. By the time you come in early/stay late 170 to 180 days a year then those 12 weeks are suddenly 6 weeks.

Your husband is also the exception. I gather he doesn’t teach in an impoverished area or in a heavy immigrant area either. I would not dare comment on his effectiveness as a teacher since I do not know him so its offensive for you to assume that other teachers are slackers sitting at a desk.

One thing that bugs me is when people feel like teaching is the except for all jobs in the world – we have to be held to the highest standards and God forbid that we hire a slacker. EVERY job in the world has some slackers. Bankers, doctors, lawyers, politicians…the list goes one. Each one of the careers I have listed can make major mistakes and wreak havoc in their field. I’m sure you have plenty of people in your field who do the minimum to get by and their is nothing you can do about that.

Education has its problems but its magnified by the fact that you are watching CHILDREN. If you think its so easy to do then why don’t you try it for a week. I got $10 you won’t last.


June 5th, 2009
9:59 pm

Not sure why my earlier comments did not post but I decided not to reenter the lengthier posting but to add a suggestion: why not create a grester learning evironment using a different method of teaching, offer field trips and incentives to all pupils(not just all A’s students) and reinvent the courses so that learning is fun. How often do you hear “I don’t wanna go to school!!!” Maybe, if we can invent a new system and not the “one size fit all” mentality then maybe we will all benefit and excel excitedly – I know but it sounded good in my head. I had a college professor who taught us outside the box methodologies and we learned far more from him in the one course (and still remembered today) than we learned from teachers who taught by the book. We cannot even recall the teachers’s names but we can recall the “one teacher named Mr. XX who did this and that.” Anyway, my two cents.


June 5th, 2009
10:01 pm

Ooops had a typo. “grester” should be “greater” ..sorry!!!

Fed- Up with Today's Kids!

June 5th, 2009
10:18 pm

I am not an Educator nor am I a Parent. But from what I can see…today’s kids….are ridiculous! I blame “The Parents”. I can’t believe all of the things kids have today. $250 iPods, $1200 Laptops, $349 iPhones, Tons of Video Games and 8 year girls with “Fake Fingernails”. What are these “Parents” trying to Prove? Stop spoiling these kids! How about disciplining (hope I spelled that right? ) them, start instilling some values, teach them morales and finally teach them how to “Respect” their Teachers, Elders and Themeselves. By the way, if I see 1 more pair of drawers hanging out a pair of Blue Jeans or Pants…I am going to “Scream”!


June 6th, 2009
6:26 am

Envious, it sounds as if you need to leave your job for the teaching profession as well. Obviously it can be done, since your husband did it, and there are still hundreds of jobs listed on TeachGeorgia….

Teachers leave for all the reasons above, and then some. Sometimes they just want a job where they can go to the bathroom any time they’d like to, but I think the major reasons boil down to (1) lack of preparation by ed schools for real world conditions, (2) badly behaved students and parents, and (3) lack of support by administration for discipline problems — as mentioned above, the teacher is far more likely to be blamed for having “poor classroom management skills”.


June 6th, 2009
7:18 am

A different perspective….

School systems set teachers up for failure. They will take a newly minted teacher, throw them into a classroom that has been scavenged of all useful items, give them a class roster that is loaded with behavior problems and the low kids, shut the door and tell them “Good luck. We’ll see you in nine months.” To make things even more interesting, they will include a couple of Sped kids for “inclusion” and a sprinkling of ESOL kids just for kicks.

Sound familiar?

The bottom line

June 6th, 2009
7:41 am

I totally agree with Just Joy’s comments. As a veteran educator of 21 years who has been at several different high schools in my career, I feel that the bottom line of whether a teacher chooses to stay or transfer comes down to how they are treated by the administration, primarily the principal. I worked for one of the most horrible individuals I have ever met in my life. He talks down to parents, treats adults as if they are idiots without degrees, and berates teachers into changing grades so that a student can graduate and help the school make AYP. As long as he is allowed to continue this type of treatment, he will. Teachers complain but it falls on deaf ears and then once they complain, they are targeted for reprisals by the administration. Trust me-the grass is greener on the other side! Life is too short to stay at a school where you are devalued on a personal and professional level.


June 6th, 2009
9:26 am

There should be a “POWERFUL but FAIR” evaluation tools for teachers to evaluate principals at the end of each school year in a way that will not result in personal reprisals. Administrators are required to evaluate teachers each year and are free to wield a personal agenda into the evaluation to reflect not just performance, but their personal feelings about the teacher. Teachers are totally at the mercy of the princpal and some will actually destroy an excellent teacher for personal reasons to include insecurities and even jealousy.

As a retired teacher and now a sub, DISCIPLINE IS TERRIBLE. There are schools, especially the middle schools, where subs just refuse to go because of the disrespect and abuse by out of control kids. For many teachers, it takes every ounce of energy just to manage discipline leaving precious little time for instruction. All the money and time spend to prepare for the career boils down to how well one can manage a boot camp. The same students who refuse to learn can really learn that teachers are powerless against them. The rules for teachers are far more stringent and enforceable for teachers than for students.


June 6th, 2009
9:33 am

Additionally, there are elementary schools, right down to the kindergarten classes that are a nightmare to handle. SMH Oftentimes, the parents are little more than kids themselves. My experience is innercity, but the burbs present their problems too because of “rabid” parents where the little tails wag the dog and the dog think those little tails can do no wrong. LOL


June 6th, 2009
9:35 am

Enter your comments here


June 6th, 2009
12:06 pm

jim d: here is a difference between those you named and teachers. Teachers can be and are blackballed. After Siberia duty, that is the next thing that happens. When you are labeled uncooperative because you won’t joyfully do whatever inane/azzinine thing someone thinks for you to do, you can lose your ability to be hired anywhere in the state (and sometimes farther reaching than that). A steel worker or garbage man can go to the next town to get a job. They don’t have PSC following them. And, because of our ever-shifting/increasing responsibilities, the target is moved around so much that it is pretty easy to have trumped up “charges” against you. Not to mention, the steelworkers and garbage men are not expected to deal with recalcitrant steel or garbage that won’t go willingly into the truck, nor steel bosses or homeowners to whom the steel/garbage is their “precious darling.”

Been There

June 7th, 2009
8:32 am

jim d, I only half-heartedly agree with your comment in regard to board members. I individually wrote each member of the school board (one of the largest in the state) to no avail. Not one of the members sent me a letter acknowledging receipt! I believe that it was never their intention to respond. As a parent, taxpayer and teacher in this district, I plan to do something about it. I will not support school board members that cannot so much as respond to a direct letter. Meanwhile, this same county has consistently wanted me to vote in a penny sales tax! Fair Weather Friends? No. At this point dealing directly with the DOE will yield better results.

Suggestion to the State

June 7th, 2009
8:53 am

With the state spening $400 million annually, there should be an investigation on how the districts may be affecting the bottom line due to the economy. Check the districts with an increase in the number of teachers leaving. Compare the percentages over the past 5-7 years. With the economic downturn, there was an increase in numbers?

Many districts have had to lay off teachers because of economic strain. No one faults them for this. What is questionable is stacking the cards to appear that the teacher is incompetent to effectively teach. This allows districts to participate in “fair dismissal”. Tenure does not really exist in Georgia. Teachers are leaving before year 5. The whole tenure idea comes with the 4th contract. After this point it is much more difficult to get rid of teachers. Seem fishy?

At this point, many teachers voluntarily leave due to the conditions. Other teachers, who may not be in a position to just quit, endure. Many of those wind up a product of “fair dismissal”. On paper, it appears that these teachers are just leaving, but MANY are given the option to leave. There is a big difference.

Other districts are reporting very small numbers being laid off, yet the number of teachers leaving are high. Several districts, Cobb included, are thinning the roster by either non-renewing teachers, giving the opton of resgination or mistreating teachers to the point where they do not return. Let’s think about this. In this economy, would you leave your job voluntarily? No! To justify this process, the administrators create a paper trail that appears that the teacher had unsatisfactory performance for the current year. What about previous years? How can a teacher go from sugar to salt in one year? What did the administrators do to really keep that from happening?

The districts should have to report this information to the state. Who do the districts have to report this to? The district office is not enough. If the district itself is balancing the books, they are not going to investigate an increase. It seems that the state would require this information because they are footing such a large bill to replace teachers.

David Alexander

June 7th, 2009
8:57 am

I have taught science in a public school for 14 years now. After my first 4 years I left teaching due to the lack of support from the administration. I worked as a franchisee in the private sector and discovered there was alot of money to be made from folks and it was easy to get. With pockets filled with cash and working a 50 hour week, my life was missing something that I finally realized was the interaction with my students. I was good at managing a group of talented mechanics and getting autos serviced or repaired but did not view this as ” giving back ” to my community. So I sold out and went searching for that place where I could have the interaction with students while helping them get a good start on their adult lives. I landed at a school in Newton County where every teacher I met had a genuine concern for their students and believed in what they were doing. I went to work for an administrative staff that held the same beliefs as their teachers, and went that extra mile to show support for you in your classroom. After three principal changes over the years there ( all were hired from within the school/county) we are on our fourth and this principal was not hired from within. Due to this new fellows transition from an elementary school in his county to a challenging high school in ours, this new leader did everything BUT lead us this past year. By relying heavily on one particular A.P., who micromanaged all teachers to death this year, the high moral of our teachers dissipated like water boiling on a stove. Watch for a mass exodus from our school next year if our new leader doesn’t grab the reins from the tyrannical A.P.

Northview Teacher

June 7th, 2009
11:35 am

Interesting topic. I just resigned my position after eight years as a classroom teacher, and I had incredibly mixed feelings about doing so. I love the work of teaching. I love seeing kids get it, and I learned so much about caring for kids that I never expected to like at all. That part of the job I will miss intensely.

However, I have to say that the two overriding factors that led to my leaving were dealing with parents and spineless admins. For anyone who thinks that the school board does not effect teachers’ lives, I suggest that you look at the web site of the despicable Ashley Widener: http://www.widener-associates.net/first.html. She represents the worst kind of neocon “thinking,” and, in addition to being a true dim bulb, she is an utter disgrace: petty, mean, and picayune.

What finally pushed me over the edge was sitting in a parent conference in February and realizing that I was expected to placate someone, regardless of any facts, and that there was nothing honest I could do. That was the moment I knew my teaching career was over. There’s no way I’ll sit still and be abused by parents who simply do not want to consider that their child is in reality a budding borderline personality, if not a sociopath, deeply troubled and in need of intense help. I don’t think it’s the kid’s fault; after meeting that family I am surprised he’s doing as well as he is. Still, everyone wanted to play a dishonest game, and I decided at that moment to fold.

Honestly, I could not stand the thought of working with Pam Spalla. It’s amazing what kind of slimy, pompous people rise up to be admins in Fulton County. When the announcement came that Spalla was to be the new principal, most everyone started looking for new jobs. Most teachers hate and revile her. Unfortunately, the bad economy is forcing many people to stay at Northview for another year. I bet those poor teachers will go through hell this coming year.

Good luck to everyone stuck at Northview next year: you’re going to need it.

Dr. John Trotter

June 8th, 2009
2:00 am

I just glanced over a few of the responses to this hot topic for teachers…especially with Roy Barnes trying to get back into the Governor’s Mansion. (I have been quite busy lately and did not have a chance to see this topic until tonight.) At MACE, we have been hammering this mantra for years: “You can’t have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.” I have been observing this condescending, abusive, and insulting treatment of teachers for over 30 years (and even wrote a dissertation about it at UGA over 25 years ago). But, the treatment has escalated in its abuse in more recent years — in Georgia with the inauguration of Roy Barnes as governor (he actually used teachers as scapegoats) and with the U. S. Congressional legislation of No Child Left Behind (the Poster Child for Unintended Consequences). Children are no longer held responsible for their academics or their behavior. ALL ills are now placed on the backs of downtrodden teachers. Teachers no longer have ANY authority in their classrooms. It is very frustrating to be blamed for everything when you have no authority over anything. This is why teachers leave the teaching field. They are disgusted and insulted by how they are treated…especially when they are professionals with degrees and credentials (from passing mandated entry examinations). As I stated in my disseration years ago, this continued practice of raping a profession will result in fewer of the sharpest Georgians and Americans from entering into the teaching profession. My brother is a retired teacher/principal in Georgia, and none of his children are entering into the teaching profession. I doubt any of my children will enter into the teaching profession. Teachers are simply no longer treated as professionals. Some of the bozos who are now in charge of our schools as principals and superintendents are not only laughable but are scary. Character? Are you kidding me? They are some of the best examples of people who have NO character. They appear to be in the profession just for the money — and they don’t seem to care whose throats they step on or whose beds they sleep in to get that almightly paycheck lined up.

In a nutshell, MACE has been saying for years that the three main problems in public schooling in Georgia (and presumably in American) are: (1) Defiant & Disruptive “Students”; (2) Irate & Irresponsible “Parents”; and (3) Angry & Abusive Administrators. An epidemic problem in recent years could be added to the aforementioned three problems: Widespread & Systematic Cheating on Exams and Grading. These are the problems with which teachers are fed up. Pure and simple. Not salary and benefits. No working hours. It is lack of respect from children, parents, and administrators. The other educational organizations cannot be forthcoming, even if they knew the real issues for teachers. Administrators fill the membership ranks of PAGE, GAE, GAEL, et al. What can they really say? They would be incriminating their own members.

MACE has from its inception in 1995 stated with complete candor these problems in educated. Our theme and mission has not evolved. It has not varied. MACE is about “the empowerment of classroom educators.” Because of MACE’s unalterable position drawn in the proverbial sand, MACE apparently poses a threat to Georgia’s Educational Establishment and therefore MACE has been portrayed as “a radical teachers union” (to quote the AJC itself). At MACE, we simply think that it is “radically wrong” to (1) allow students to assault and/or curse their teachers, (2) allow parents to verbally eviserate teachers for their own short-comings in parenting skills and/or responsibilities, and (3) allow administrators to verbally abuse and manipulatively mistreat teachers as if these administrators were two-bit tyrants and despots in third world countries. At MACE, we will not cease agitating for changes in Georgia about the way teachers are shabbily treated, and we will not equivocate nor vascillate one inch from our position about “the empowerment of classroom educators.” Until Georgia’s politicians, educrats, state board members, et al., come to grips with what is REALLY taking place in our schools, we will get more “reforms” periodically from the legislature, resulting only in a further downward spiral. The politicians will wring their hands and bemoan how that we need a better group of teachers. No, we need a better group of children, parents, and administrators. But, what politician would ever deign to admit this…at least publically? (c) MACE, 2009


June 8th, 2009
2:16 pm

I am a former Gwinnett Co teacher. I taught kindergarten for 2 1/2 years. My principal started harassing me and asked me to start turning in my lesson plans because a five year old in my class told his parents he played when they asked him what happened at school that day. My AP told me that parents were requesting a little boy removed from my room. As a teacher that is very hurtful and come to find out the AP is the one that asked the parents if they wanted their child out. How mean is that? My principal took notes at weekly meetings we had and took them to HR and I lost my job. The worst part is the notes were all lies and no one at county would listen. Joyce Spraggs talked me out of filing a grievance on my principal and AP for lieing to me twice and I had the documentation to prove it. I will say Administrators are the reason teachers leave. They are spineless. They play favorites and Gwinnett will not punish those they put into power. I had a parent write a lettre on my behalf and no one responded it was sent to MR. Wilbanks and a board member. Gwinnett has taken the joy out of teaching. When my principal let me go she siad that nothing could change for the remainder of the school year because my next job depended on her. Now I am scared to apply for a job. I was not placed on a PDP or given due process. She knew I was single with children and she did nothing to help me keep my job. I spent hours organizing my room one Sunday and spent $70 dollars of my own money fixing up my room and it was not good enough. My co-workers would say to me what did she want now when they saw her in my room because she was constatnly harassing me. I taught kindergarten alone this year my para quit and Gwinnett did not rehire a teacher to help me and she never once gave me a pat on the back. I couldn’t win for loosing this year. It’s not until today that I have had a voice. Gwinnett county is going to implode. A lady told me at the mall the other day that she feels sorry for new teachers coming to Gwinnett to tecah. She just retired from teaching at an elementarty school. This was a horrible year. I spent many days crying over what they were doing to me. It was not my parents it was not the paperwork it was my principal and assistant principal. Two female principals are the worst to work for. They killed my dreams I didn’t want to loose my job. I loved learning and getting a do over each year. My advice is just don’t teach in Gwinnett.