More than 1,250 teachers leaving Omaha districts: 'They can feel valued in a different job'

cigaretteman

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May 29, 2001
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Jake Barry left education after his second year of teaching.
The Elkhorn Public Schools teacher said he was excited to be done. He was burnt out. He needed a change of pace. His work-life balance was nonexistent.
But then he started missing his students. Being an umpire for the local softball team wasn't enough — he wanted back in the classroom.
After a year hiatus, Barry jumped back into education in August 2017.
Now Barry is watching his coworkers make the same decision he did six years ago, as about 20% of his building is on the way out the door. And he said he understands why.

"They know they can feel valued in a different job and a different place," he said.
Most districts around the Omaha metro area are experiencing higher rates of resignations and retirements.
Educators are leaving their jobs to move to another district, take a break from education or exit the field entirely.

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The majority of the 11 Omaha-area districts are losing anywhere from 30-70% more educators than last year. This includes teachers, along with other certified staff like principals, psychologists and librarians.
More than 1,250 educators are leaving their districts in the metro area, but that number is likely conservative as more people exit after the resignation deadlines. This is a 41% increase from last year, when roughly 880 educators resigned or retired from their jobs.


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Some reasons for leaving are personal — to be closer to family, a shorter commute or a new opportunity. For example, in Bennington Public Schools, district data says 11 teachers are resigning because of relocation due to a family issue.
But teachers say the increase in resignations and retirements is because of conditions that aren't getting any better: overflowing class sizes, rising student misbehavior, staff absences, low pay and souring relationships between a district's leaders and its employees, among other problems.

One Bennington teacher submitted her letter of resignation this spring after more than a decade in the classroom. The teacher spoke on the condition The World-Herald withhold her name due to concerns it could impact her future job.

She said student misbehavior was one of the top reasons why she's moving to another district.
"The discipline in our district has gotten so bad — kids have no repercussions for their actions anymore," she said. "They don't care and they're defiant. That never would have happened 10 years ago, when the fear of going to the principal's office was real."
She also is tired of how she's being treated in the district. She started to feel like "just a body in a classroom" and that she could just be easily replaced, she said.

Terry Haack, Bennington superintendent, said the district values employee input and strives for continuous improvement.

"Staff and students are our No. 1 commodity and we recognize the importance of employee contributions to our system," he said in an email. "We regret that an employee would leave our system with anything but a positive experience."

Teachers in the Omaha metro area and beyond have said they feel undervalued and unappreciated throughout the school year. But multiple teachers have said they don't feel like they can publicly speak up, such as at a board meeting, without it negatively impacting their job or future.

Barry said he loves his school and building administration, but doesn't feel like the district officials leading Elkhorn understand what teachers are going through.
"They have a skewed idea of what goes on," Barry said. "We don't feel supported by upper administration, we feel like parents are dictating a lot of things and we are also being asked to do a lot more. In our job titles, the 'all other duties as assigned' is starting to become enormous."
Barry said the initiatives put in place to help teachers cope — such as extra remote weeks or planning days without students — have slowly drifted away.
Omaha Public Schools teachers took to public comment at the May 16 board meeting to explain why staff were leaving.


Adam Byers, an OPS preschool teacher resigning at the end of the year, told board members that he's leaving because of the stressful working conditions teachers still have to endure. He said he used up all of his sick days and vacation time because of the impact teaching had on his mental and physical health.
"I was made to feel as though my student success was my responsibility alone. I did not have a fraction of the support I should have had," Byers said. "I was forced to stretch myself beyond my limits to help my students. The burden of being dropped into the deep-end without the needed assistance and support and being told to swim has completely and utterly destroyed the deep passion I've had for teaching."
In a recent Omaha Education Association survey that had 700 teachers respond, 48% felt OPS doesn't treat them as a professional and 68% said they don't feel valued by district administration.
Regarding the survey results, Superintendent Cheryl Logan said there are areas "where we have to work together because no person can do this on their own."
"Everyone wants to feel valued, and we need to understand, well, that means something different to everybody," Logan said. "We've had some really good conversations about, you know, what does that mean for people?"
Logan said the district is forming a work group, along with a facilitator to help come up with strategies to improve the relationship between staff and district administration.

OPS is now projecting 588 educators to leave by July 1. The district previously reported higher numbers at 684 resignations and retirements. Bridget Blevins, spokeswoman for OPS, said the decrease is due to the human resources department finding duplicate documents while processing resignations. Robert Miller, president of the OEA, confirmed the union received the same numbers.

A teacher in Papillion La Vista said he's encountered far more people considering leaving than he has before in his more than a decade in the district. The teacher spoke on the condition The World-Herald withhold his name due to fear of retaliation from the district.
"I am one of those people that teaching and education was a calling. And I envisioned teaching as long as I possibly could," he said. "Now I am browsing job boards going 'gee, are there other things I can do?' "
He said teachers are past the point of "burn out" and are now entering demoralization. He often finds himself thinking about work even at home worrying if he did the right thing or about what challenges lay ahead of him for the next day. And sometimes the stress becomes too much for teachers, he said.
"We are feeling like we don't have enough mental availability for our students," he said. "It isn't just that we are burnt out ... it's 'I don't know if I am able to do my job adequately enough to make an impact for my students.' "
He said he knows it's also been hard for administrators and school board members, but he feels they have banded together over the past year to support each other instead of listening to staff.
"People really feel like they don't care if we leave," he said.
Annette Eyman, spokeswoman for Papillion La Vista, said it makes her sad to think teachers might not feel heard or valued. She said the district creates surveys and has an advisory group to collect staff feedback, along with other initiatives for retention.







 
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ClarindaA's

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Jun 3, 2002
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Student misbehavior is the biggest cause….. I think I said that in the original thread. Parents enable little assholes. We lack discipline as a nation. Look at the average American physique, debt to income ratio, it’s terrible. Parents argue with teachers over their little assholes using cell phones in class. Get them the eff out of the classroom
 

Chewback

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Feb 14, 2002
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Might be the schools but more likely just the soul-crushing effect of living in Omaha.
 

BeepBeepInMyJeep

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Jun 28, 2010
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I don’t blame them at all. I love teachers. But finding yourself valued in a different job going into some other field where you have no experience? I think they should manage their expectations a bit.
 

HawkRCID

HR All-American
Nov 7, 2018
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Yeah if our nations schools had less parents and our kids had more parents in their lives that would be a good thing.

We got parents not wanting to parent but wanting to dictate curriculum to teachers
 

MitchLL

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Dec 26, 2018
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Yeah if our nations schools had less parents and our kids had more parents in their lives that would be a good thing.

We got parents not wanting to parent but wanting to dictate curriculum to teachers
Yep..... parents want teachers to be babysitters, minus the discipline needed.
 
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MuscoHawk

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Oct 6, 2005
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…kids have no repercussions for their actions anymore," she said. "They don't care and they're defiant. That never would have happened 10 years ago, when the fear of going to the principal's office was real."

This is the damned truth.

Admin, teacher and parent used to form a rock solid alliance but lately the student has replaced the teacher. Admin and parent always side with the student and come down on the teacher. There is ZERO fear of consequences.
 

LuteHawk

HR Legend
Nov 30, 2011
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Today, parents want to be a pal to their children
instead of a parent. As a result they no longer
discipline their children in their home. This has
consequences at school because children do not
accept discipline of teachers and principals.
 

Pinehawk

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Sep 16, 2003
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They are going to be so disappointed when they realize they won’t be valued in their new job either.
 
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Tom Paris

HR Legend
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Oct 1, 2001
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Student misbehavior is the biggest cause….. I think I said that in the original thread. Parents enable little assholes. We lack discipline as a nation. Look at the average American physique, debt to income ratio, it’s terrible. Parents argue with teachers over their little assholes using cell phones in class. Get them the eff out of the classroom
Yep.
 

kcnole63

HR All-State
Jan 11, 2021
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They are going to be so disappointed when they realize they won’t be valued in their new job either.
Believe it or not, there are employers out there who value their employees. I just retired from one that did.
 

luvmyhawks

HR Legend
Mar 22, 2005
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This is the damned truth.

Admin, teacher and parent used to form a rock solid alliance but lately the student has replaced the teacher. Admin and parent always side with the student and come down on the teacher. There is ZERO fear of consequences.

That‘s not true at all.
 

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