Here is the recipe for how it happened.
One part incompetent superintendent and a rubber stamp board. The previous superintendent must have had compromising pictures of the long term board members because they rubber stamped everything he brought to them and much of it was to the detriment of the district. Not that things were perfect before him but he gutted student accountability and turned teachers from valued colleagues to easily replaceable and marginalized cogs. I also can’t emphasize enough how he gutted student accountability a huge problem that continues to plague us. Then as a bonus he put people in leadership positions not based on ability but who they knew and sadly now many of our schools are filled with bullies masquerading as administrators. Despite Vitti’s impressive beginning, it will take the district years to recover from Pratt-Dannals, Burney, Barrett and Hazouri.
Throw in Jeb Bush and his debunked Florida miracle and teaching went from a field that prided itself on creativity and flexibility to one that filled in bubbles and taught to the test. Jeb Bush has done more to harm education than most people know or it sometimes seems, want to know.
Add a sprinkle of the Times Union and the rest of the local media giving the previous super and board a pass. I must have read a half dozen editorials in the Times Union that said Pratt was the right man for the job, this as he drove quality teachers to the surrounding counties or out of the field all together. Pass after pass they gave him as our schools, teachers and students languished.
Then throw in low pay, Florida teachers are some of the worst paid in the nation and expensive benefits, that’s right, they aren’t as great as people have been led to believe. As altruistic as many teachers are they still have to feed their families. Then when you couple those with an ever increasing demand to drill and kill kids, rich kids get taught poor kids get tested, and mountains of superfluous paperwork and then a lot of teachers decided to look elsewhere for employment. I mean if they are going to be miserable they might as well be getting paid for it.
John Thrasher and Steve Wise, two local legislatures constant anti-teacher drum beat also played a role as did all the anti-teacher/public education legislation that has come out of Tallahassee over the last few years. Instead of fixing our problems they have exacerbated many as they have sought to privatize our schools.
Finally the well financed campaign to besmirch teachers, portraying them as money grubbing self-indulgers who couldn’t care less about kids, you know the opposite of what is true, hurt.
With all that what really surprises me is it’s just 50%.
The good news is we can turn this around and listening to teachers concerns and suggestions would be a good first step.