Teachers’ exodus begs the question of ‘why’

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 6, 2001

The fact that teachers and certified personnel are leaving the Natchez-Adams School District at an alarming rate is undeniable. The reason for that exodus begs further explanation.

The district lost 59 certified teachers to resignation/retirement this year, or about 21.5 percent of its certified workforce.

And, while Superintendent Dr. Carl Davis admits &uot;any superintendent would be crazy not to be concerned about losing staff,&uot; being concerned is not enough.

We need answers … and those answers will come only by asking the difficult and uncomfortable questions. For Davis and the school board, those questions start with &uot;why.&uot;

Why did our district lose more certified personnel this year than the Vicksburg-Warren School District, which at double our size lost only 50 certified employees?

Why are teachers leaving their Natchez-Adams jobs for districts with less pay, and saying they &uot;enjoy teaching again?&uot;

Why is the discipline program – or lack of an effective one – repeatedly cited as a problem for teachers?

And, most important, why are teachers saying &uot;nobody wants to come to Natchez&uot; to teach?

Just as we must seek to understand why students’ test scores are below our expectations before we can make the changes to improve those test scores, we need to understand why our teachers – the front-line leaders we need in education – are giving up and leaving the Natchez-Adams district.

And while the answers to those questions might make Davis and the school board members more than a bit uncomfortable, we won’t make any true progress until we ask the questions; listen to the answers; and take action to correct the underlying problems, whether they be ineffective discipline programs, lack of leadership or overwhelming bureaucracy and red tape.

These are our public schools; these students are our future employees, our future leaders; and these questions are ones we must be asking and answering if we’re going to move forward.