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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Attrition at Ed White Should concern us all

I have to tell you; at one time Ed White was something special. It had a huge art department and a model U.N. Team, physics club and drama department of some renown.  However with 4 principal changes in six years and a tremendous turnover in staff Ed White is just a shadow of its former self.

Every year there is turnover at our schools and in the five years I was at Ed White we probably had about a hundred new teachers come through the doors, though the vast majority of the new arrivals came after Jim Clark the long time principal there retired. I remember one staff meeting towards the end where we met two 
new reading teachers who we then never saw again.  

Sadly though since I left three years ago turnover has occurred at an unprecedented rate, with about 140 teachers leaving.  I am told there are about 65 new faces this year alone. Why the turnover? Well part of it is because teaching isn’t the country club job that the blame the teacher crowd would have the public believe. It’s stressful, for college educated professionals the pay isn’t that great and the pressure especially for content areas at a high school is unbelievable. A good leader however can mitigate some of this, and 65 teachers leaving should tell you about the type of Leadership Ed White has.

Another reason people flee is because of poor leadership. They don’t have that leader that can mitigate the hazards of being a teacher but teachers also avoid principals that see them as numbers rather than individuals. They don’t want to work for principals who use fear and intimidation as motivational tactics.  Some principals treat teachers in a fashion that if teachers treated students similarly would see them in the unemployment line. True leaders inspire, they don’t threaten, brow beat or cajole.

Furthermore when there is constant upheaval with teachers it trickles down to their students too. No veteran teacher ever said they were better when they first started which means more kids are getting shortchanged by having an ever revolving door of new teachers. Furthermore unhappy teachers aren’t nearly as effective as happy ones. They don’t stay late, they don’t grade from home and they physically can’t give their all.

Under the previous reign (or error) who one new rather than one’s ability often determined who was promoted.  Superintendent Vitti who moved a record number of principals got a glimpse of that but he didn’t go nearly far enough, merely moving some around while inexplicably keeping some in place.

Vitti said he wanted to usher in a new era where teachers were valued colleagues not easily replaceable cogs and the quickest way to do this is to insist all his principals treated their staffs with respect and to send the ones who are incapable of doing so on their way.

Ed White has had 4 principals in six years but the truth is it should have been 5. 


  1. True. Two of my kids went there under Mr. Clark. Was happy with the place then. Heard NOTHING but horror stories since. At workshops, the Ed White guys are the grumpier ones.

    Admin needs to realize that happy teachers are higher performing teachers. Too many admin aren't treating teachers well, preferring to lead with fear. This is a trend I've seen rewarded with advanced positions in the DCPS hierarchy.

  2. I was a teacher at ED WHITE for 17 years and watched the downhill trend occur..Yes it was a great school--full of constant activities--then--no more! the electives were not important only the core classes.. also, no more assemblies/field trips-performances-CLUB DAYS etc. when a school has a lot of enjoyable activities-students are happy to attend and do better in that school! they are proud of their school-thus proud of themselves. TOO MUCH OF THE "NEW WAY OF TEACHING" GOING ON! go back to the basics and let teachers really teach!!! I sometimes wonder how we got to the moon? invented the microwave? internet? without the NEW WAY OF TEACHING!!! Also--when does every lesson HAVE TO BE FUN!!! EVERYDAY AT WORK IN THE REAL WORLD IS NOT FUN!!!SO-WHAT ARE WE DOING TO THE HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT! PREPARING THEM TO WHAT???? Time we got back to teaching the real world and the real subject matter of a class..not just the FCAT FCAT FCAT!!! TEACHERS have no help with discipline...class becomes a baby sitting of bad behavior instead of a class of students who behave and learn. teachers have no support when discipline is a problem and this comes from DOWNTOWN!!!! SCHOOL BOARD BUILDING!!!
    change the discipline ways--let teachers teach their subject matter--add more activities during the day and after school for entertainment and encourage participation in all activities... the learning will happen when this is done. AND TEACHERS WILL TAKE PRIDE IN THE SCHOOL WHERE THEY TEACH AND STAY THERE!!

  3. There is still bullying in this district that does not involve children. Bullying of teachers is a problem and the lack of support when dealing with discipline is also a big issue there. Can we discuss disappearing discipline referrals too? Can we also discuss doors being closed and issues not being addressed? Some in leadership will do anything to improve the school grade, and I mean anything to make the school numbers look good causing the integrity of some in leadership to be questioned. When it is all said and done and teachers are made to explain why it is important for them to have access to a bathroom and it is denied, it in part explains why a lot of teachers leave. The school is operating in the same mode that Ribault has for many years, and it is hard to obtain and maintain success with a revolving teacher door. Ribault's "A" staff has been gutted and their school grade has taken a tumble. It is a shame that all of the effort of Dr. Young appears to be down the drain. It will be interesting to see what happens as the new staff dances to the music on the Westside

  4. How funny that you focus on the things that left and not what has come back! Drama....back. Chorus.......back! Focus on the arts .......back! More pep rallies and fun events for students ........back! Safer campus for students ...... Back! And the list goes on and on and on. Say something positive for a chance and people might take your blog more seriously rather than just as a complaint corner.......

  5. I will tell you what, identify yourself and write a piece about how great it is and I will put it on here but I have to tell you I know numerous teachers there and they all say Jackson is a nightmare.