Editorial: State facing growing number of teacher retirements

The chickens appear to be coming home to roost in Louisiana’s public school education.

Several school superintendents from around the state sounded the alarm earlier this week over the growing rate of teacher

retirements.

The number of teacher retirements jumped 26.8 percent for fiscal year 2011-2012 and is on pace to outpace that rate this fiscal

year.

School administrators, teachers and their unions warned Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration that education reforms that included

new teacher evaluations were going to spark a mass exodus of teachers.

Those predictions appear to be spot on. Prior to the escalation, an average of 2,500 public school teachers retired. Last

year, 3,295 decided to call it quits. If the current rate continues, more than 3,500 teachers will hang it up this year.

Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Pat Cooper said teachers blame pressure, instability and the bevy of changes in the

system.

Michael Faulk, president of the Louisiana Association of School Superintendents, said the retirements run the gamut — from

veterans who have put their 25 to 30 years, others who have 12 to 15 years experience who have decided they want to pursue

another line of work and fledglings who are overwhelmed with ‘‘the magnitude of the what they are getting into.’’

Superintendents blamed the new teacher evaluations and the push to nationwide ‘‘common core’’ standards for the increase in

retirements.

Livingston Parish School Superintendent John Watson said teachers who have endured a number of changes over the past few years

are deciding they don’t want to go through another overhaul.

The by-product of these retirements say superintendents is a potential shortage of quality teachers.

‘‘If this continues like this,’’ said Watson, ‘‘it is going to be quite a problem to fill positions.

Cooper said if the trend continues, it is going to create a problem in his district, particularly in in-demand positions in

science, math and special education.

Many teachers believe they were

vilified by Jindal and, to a lesser degree, by state Superintendent of

Education John White,

when they pushed last spring an education reform package through

the state Legislature. The majority of teachers also complain

about the lack of discipline from students. But by far their

primary complaint is being evaluated on the progress of students,

when many variables, such as parental involvement and

dysfunctional home atmospheres, are not factored into the equation.

It’s a shame that is has come to this,

but it wasn’t like the powers weren’t warned. Some of the education

reforms enacted

were long overdue. But the manner in which they were handled and

the fact that those men and women who are doing their very

best in the trenches every day were not welcomed in crafting the

reform package has left a sour taste in the mouths of a multitude

of teachers.

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This editorial was written by a member of the American Press Editorial Board. Its content reflects the collaborative opinion of the Board, whose members include Bobby Dower, Ken Stickney,

Jim Beam, Crystal Stevenson and Donna Price.