Knox teachers worry policies are causing more resignations

Knox County teachers worry current policies are causing more educators to quit

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"That student was failing my class and I was told to change the grade because the child needed to graduate," retired teacher Carol Allen said. "That student was failing my class and I was told to change the grade because the child needed to graduate," retired teacher Carol Allen said.
"I'm not aware of any specific example of where a teacher said that and if they did that's certainly something we'd look at," Dr. Jim McIntyre said. "I'm not aware of any specific example of where a teacher said that and if they did that's certainly something we'd look at," Dr. Jim McIntyre said.

By SAMANTHA MANNING
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - After weeks of speaking out about frustrations over policies in the Knox County school system, several teachers told 6 News some educators are leaving the classrooms altogether because of their concerns.

"The message has been 'we are not enough'," Hardin Valley Elementary School teacher Maureen Myers said during the November Board of Education meeting when voicing her worries to the board.

Myers was one of dozens of Knox County teachers who have spoken up publicly to Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre and the school board demanding change.

Several teachers said the new teacher evaluations and the disconnect between administrators and teachers are leading teachers to quit.

Carol Allen taught high school math for more than 30 years in Knoxville.

Allen retired in 2010, three years earlier than expected.

"This really would be my year to retire," Allen said.

Allen said she decided to retire because administrators pressured her to pass a student who she believed should have been retained.

"That student was failing my class and I was told to change the grade because the child needed to graduate," Allen said.

"We see students every day that do not have the skills to go on to the next grade level and we're told we need to pass them on," former Knox County Education Association President Sherry Morgan said.

Passing students undeservingly is a policy McIntyre said the school district does not practice or tolerate.

"I'm not aware of any specific example of where a teacher said that and if they did that's certainly something we'd look at," McIntyre said. "Obviously, we want to make sure that we support our kids and make sure that they are learning. We want our kids to graduate but we have specific standards. We have high expectations for our students that they need to meet in order to meet the graduation standards."

According to Knox County Schools records, the number of teachers resigning has gone up each year since 2010.

Records show that 177 teachers resigned in 2010, accounting for around 4.09 percent of the total number of teachers employed.

More than 230 teachers resigned last year out of roughly 4,100, accounting for 5.7 percent of teachers on staff. That's up from 4.08 percent in 2010.

The reasons teachers resigned varied, including some teachers relocating or changing careers. But some said they left because of policy changes.

6 News obtained a resignation letter by a former West Hills teacher who writes she left the school to work for a private school.

The teacher wrote, "the joy has been taken out of the public school teaching experience" saying "morale is extremely low."

It's a sentiment McIntyre said is felt but some teachers but he said he's working on repairing those ties in part by participating in teacher working groups.

"That will include eight to ten teachers, myself, the school board chair and the president of the Knox County Education Association to really to talk about some of the concerns that have been raised and potentially identify either short term or long term solutions or both," McIntyre said.

Allen said she believes the school district can work to avoid having more teachers resign from their post by putting autonomy back in the classrooms.

"Teachers are there every day with the students," Allen said. "They know what their students need and every classroom is different and that's why I think it's so important that administrators really need to hear what the teachers are saying."

McIntyre said he is also working on conducting a teacher survey to get more feedback and he said the district will better clarify their expectations for professional

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