Editorials

EDITORIAL: The teacher crisis is a threat to prosperity

"Atlanta, we have a problem."

While education in our state is not a moon mission gone awry, our oxygen tanks — the teachers — that keep this state's ship alive have been exploding for some time.

A survey report released in December called "Georgia Teacher Dropout Crisis," prepared by the Georgia Department of Education, paints a dim picture of the future of education in the state: 44 percent of new teachers leave the profession within five years. And of the 53,000 educators who took the survey, two out of three said they were unlikely or very unlikely to recommend teaching as a profession to students about to graduate from high school.

Why? Too many mandated tests, unfair evaluations and constantly changing standards. Teachers also feel devalued and stressed. Is it any wonder? According to state Superintendent Richard Woods during a budget hearing at the Capitol last week, Georgia gives standardized tests at a rate three times that required by the federal government.

He also told lawmakers about the attrition rate. Unbelievably, a legislator in the audience discounted the attrition rate as just a "natural post-recession workforce adjustment." In fact, during the recession, Georgia balanced its books on the backs of teachers and school systems. Many districts laid off personnel and resorted to furloughs. According to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, 40 school districts are still furloughing staff, and the "QBE austerity cut for 2017 is approximately $167 million."

Legislators can hold onto the myth that they don't play a role in teacher dissatisfaction if they want to, but they could wake up one day to find the state's prosperity is making a post-recession adjustment to other more educated states.

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