Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Departing Teachers' Concerns

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Departing Teachers' Concerns

Article excerpt

SURVEY: Testing pressure is common frustration, but county also gets accolades

SARASOTA

The pressures of standardized tests and frustration over high- stakes professional evaluation were problems cited by veteran teachers as they left the Sarasota County school system in recent months, district documents show.

Last school year, about 40 educators completed exit surveys that provided insight into the stresses and the joys for local teachers. The district released the surveys, which were not mandatory for employees to complete, late last month.

Sarasota County "is an excellent place to teach public school compared to other districts, but the Legislature has taken most of the fun out of teaching!" wrote a Lakeview Elementary music teacher, who taught at the district for 23 years.

The educators, spread across the district's elementary, middle and high schools, offered their thoughts on the best and worst parts of working in the school system in the anonymous exit surveys.

Of the 39 employees, 77 percent listed retirement as the primary reason for their departure.

"Youth potion," a Pineview English teacher wrote when asked if there was anything that could be done to sway the decision to quit.

Other concerns that influenced decisions to leave were job- related stress and the workload, the surveys showed. Those issues were cited 12 times as "secondary" reasons for quitting.

"Society has changed. Parental support has waned. The value of education in the eyes of numerous households has declined. Until the pendulum swings the other direction, our educational system will be taken over by charter and private schools. Public education in the U.S. is on the decline," a Venice Middle social studies teacher wrote.

Despite the reviews, the majority -- 26 employees -- said they would recommend their job without reservations.

"I have been honored to work in the Sarasota County School System!!!" a Southside Elementary teacher wrote.

The employees also seemed satisfied with their salaries.

"It still pays better than most districts in Fl and Sarasota is a nice place to live," wrote a Booker High English teacher, who was upset with the district's decision to replace media specialists at middle and high schools with aides. …

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