Is there an exodus of teachers out of DeKalb?

College graduates who choose teaching earn less than peers in other fields, a pay penalty that is increasing.

My AJC colleague Marlon Walker reports more than 900 teachers resigned during DeKalb school Superintendent Steve Green’s first year on the job, which may be the largest exodus the district has ever seen.

However, there seems to be confusion about how many teachers resigned in past years.

Walker reports:

Human capital reports from meetings held between August 2015 and July 2016 show 915 teacher resignations in that time period. That’s about 15 percent of the current 6,191 teachers. According to district data, teachers left for various reasons including retirement, pay and proximity to their homes.

While 915 teachers resigned in the past 12 months, 1,274 were hired.

District officials Wednesday said the number of recent resignations was not the highest ever, but cited numbers that differ from those previously reported on the school system’s website.

Green said by phone that more resignations were reported in 2007 (1,088), 2013 (1,041), and 2015 (1030), which differs from what’s reported on the district’s website. Neighboring Gwinnett County Schools, which employs nearly twice as many educators, lost fewer than 600 who resigned in the same period.

Green said some turnover generally is expected for a district transitioning to higher standards. “It’s a natural byproduct as we begin to raise expectations and increase the level of rigor and evaluation expectation that there are going to be people who are going to find their way out of the organization,” he said. “And, to a certain degree, that is expected.

Pay has long been an issue for DeKalb County teachers, who went several years without a raise amid poor economic conditions and district funding woes.

While teachers say they’re seeing more of their colleagues flee the profession, a new federal review questions the veracity of high turnover reports. The U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics found the percentage of teachers who leave within their first year years on the job — widely reported at 50 percent — is 17 percent.

According to the study:

  • Among all beginning teachers in 2007–08, 10 percent did not teach in 2008–09, 12 percent did not teach in 2009–10, 15 percent did not teach in 2010–11, and 17 percent did not teach in 2011–12
  • The percentage of beginning teachers who continued to teach after the first year varied by first-year salary level. For example, 97 percent of beginning teachers whose first-year base salary was $40,000 or more were teaching in 2008–09, whereas 87 percent of those with a first-year salary less than $40,000 were teaching in 2008–09. Also, 89 percent of beginning teachers whose first-year base salary was $40,000 or more were teaching in 2011–12, whereas 80 percent of those with a first-year salary less than $40,000 were teaching in 2011–12.
  • No differences were detected between the percentages of current teachers who started teaching in 2007–08 with a bachelor’s degree and those who started teaching in 2007–08 with a master’s degree in each of the years 2008–09 (91 percent and 89 percent, respectively), 2009–10 (88 percent), 2010–11 (85 percent and 88 percent, respectively), and 2011–12 (83 percent and 86 percent, respectively)

 

Reader Comments 0

40 comments
Austengirl1775
Austengirl1775

This is my last year of 14 at our north Dekalb elementary school.  For the first 10 years of that time, the staff & teachers at the school stayed very stable - many teachers had been there at least a decade - very little attrition.  Then about 5 years ago, the exodus started...a tickle at first and then the flood.  Within the last couple of years, we have lost more teachers than the entire decade prior - and the ones going were the experienced veterans.  And they are going, not for retirement or leaving the profession, but for higher paying jobs and more positive atmospheres in Fulton, Gwinnett & Cobb.  We are bleeding good teachers in Dekalb, guys.  You can argue that the rate has been worse in the past but, seriously, that just proves the point, doesn't it?  Sadly, this hole is already dug...it will take years, if not decades, to recover.  

meropa
meropa

Hi, Maureen. Have you ever written a blog about how educators are locked into contracts and somewhat held hostage when much better opportunities arise for them over the summer? I work in one metro district and was offered a position much closer to home with an almost-10% pay increase, but I face issues with the PSC if I take it. Just curious...

Andreasen
Andreasen

As a long time teacher in Dekalb, I have seen a noticeable amount of great teachers retire or move to other districts because of wages. Some were also tired of the mess Dekalb went through and the attitudes at Central Office. But most teachers will put up with difficulties if the compensation is right. Also the lack of retirement pay has been a big issue.

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

Maureen, there is an exodus of teachers out of DeKalb.  Unfortunately, the only people who can post specifics about it now, during the summer, are 12-month (year-round) employees.  If 12-month employees posted specifics here, it would be really easy for the Palace to figure out who they are and to retaliate against them.


Ask the question again next week, when DeKalb's teachers return to schools, and there will be informative comments posted.

NikoleA
NikoleA

This has been a problem for years due to poor working conditions and low pay. 

kaelyn
kaelyn

NO!!! I just followed the link and saw that our school lost THE best math teacher.

Gen A. Ohane
Gen A. Ohane

The teaching shortage will continue. The workload is ridiculous, the parents are unsupportive, the children are disrespectful, the administrators are bullies, and the state expects all children to show growth on the standardized test. Plan to hire 1,500 next year because people are leaving this noble profession everyday.

Ryan Mclean
Ryan Mclean

No surprises whatsoever .. Low pay , treated with disrespect by children and parents , aren't supported , massive unneeded paperwork .. The list goes on

Kirk Lunde
Kirk Lunde

Dr. Green is trying to put lipstick on a pig. Teachers are not leaving because of increased rigor. They are leaving because they don't have copiers that work, they don't have computers for their students to use, they have mold in their trailers, or they have 40+ high school students in a classroom designed to hold 25, and if they complain about these things they are subject to retaliation and retribution. Ask BOE member, Dr. Morley. She has brought it up at the last three BOE work sessions.

Jessica Whitehead
Jessica Whitehead

Add buying our own supplies with our own money, an unbelievable amount of petty paperwork, students who are not given consequences for their behavior and are left to constantly disrupt and ruin the learning enviornment and an unbelievable amount of pressure to "succeed" and "show growth" under impossible circumstances and little to no resources.

Mandella88
Mandella88

Or maybe they are tired of parents hanging around schools recruiting students for their tutoring business....

Reina King
Reina King

I'm willing to bet most systems are seeing an exodus...

dsw2contributor
dsw2contributor

Bad teachers don't leave DeKalb.


Horrendous teachers get moved to different schools in the system.

redweather
redweather

A 2011 report issued by the National Center for Education Information showed that 31% of public school teachers in this country are in the 50+ age range. In other words, a high number of retirees is to be expected.  Coupled with the typically high attrition rate among young teachers, DeKalb's numbers don't look all that unusual.

Kathryn Antman
Kathryn Antman

While sometimes a move is to be closer to home or a move, most of the teachers I know who have left a school did so because of the school admin, even within a district.

daks
daks

For most of us, there's been little change in the number of nieces and nephews looking for teaching jobs. 

That's the indicator with the most relevance.

Carole Veschi
Carole Veschi

You are correct Susan Blount Campbell. We lost our best teachers. My children's favorites are gone.

Susan Blount Campbell
Susan Blount Campbell

Mary, the teachers leaving aren't *bad* teachers. We should be VERY concerned with the fact that the teaching environment is so bad that teachers can't stand it. With an atmosphere like that, how do you think the kids are doing? They are losing so many experienced teachers. This is tragic!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

"Among all beginning teachers in 2007–08,".

Using a time frame that starts with the great recession may not be the best indicator of teacher attrition.

Carole Veschi
Carole Veschi

At Hillside Elementary School, Fulton, this has been an issue. In the 2015-2016 school year it is reported that 43 staff left. That is 50% of the teachers gone. We are redistricting so 12 positions would be lost but still that is excessive

Mary Morrow
Mary Morrow

Right now I think parents should be far far more concerned with the violence and craziness than with bad teachers leaving.

Starik
Starik

Are the resigning teachers good ones or bad ones?  There's a need to dig a little deeper. Are the teachers leaving to work as teachers in other districts or at Wal-Mart?

bu22
bu22

@Starik I'm hearing a lot are leaving for better pay elsewhere.

Mandella88
Mandella88

Any data or facts to back that specific statement up about teachers taking jobs in Gwinnett? Linky or you stinky!

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Mandella88

The link is probably "I have seen". This seems to be a personal observation that indicates a small number and does not necessitate a citation or "link'. 

Mandella88
Mandella88

Maybe not for a minor league blogger, but in real world, grown-up journalism and research, actual facts do matter....

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Mandella88

Blogger, journalism, and research are like sports pundit, sports broadcasting, and sports statistics. All three are not held captive to the rules of the statistician. 


If you say several of your neighbors changed garbage pickup services, would you have a citation for that or should we just accept your personal experience as part of the conversation?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Mandella88 I have been told by both Gwinnett and DeKalb school leaders that there has long been a pipeline to Gwinnett Schools from DeKalb. If you look at the link in the blog and review the list of departing DeKalb teachers, you will note many are resignations.

Those teachers are likely going somewhere.

And the AJC reported today: 

With less than a month before the first day of school, Gwinnett County officials said Thursday they have 59 teacher positions to fill. Gwinnett, the state’s largest school district, has about 11,000 teachers. Twenty-two of the 59 vacancies are for special education teachers, officials told school board members. 

Starik
Starik

@BurroughstonBroch When the New Orleans schools were taken over, and many teachers lost their jobs there were complaints that the black middle class was being destroyed. Is the perpetuation of black teachers in segregated schools a valid purpose for a school system?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@xxxzzz @Starik I have seen DeKalb teachers 

take jobs in Gwinnett, in part due do the stability of the school leadership and the consistency of policy. (That reflects the remarkable tenure of a single superintendent in that district and a school board that acts as an ally rather than a foil.)

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Gwinnett is successful because their top priority is education.

DeKalb is unsuccessful because their top priorities are (1) jobs for friends, family and sorority sisters, and (2) how can I shortcut the system to work less and put more money in my pocket.