Springfield Schools losing more than 100 teachers

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 9:41 PM CDT|Updated: Apr. 21, 2022 at 1:03 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Springfield Public Schools reports a record high number of educators leaving the profession.

KY3 worked on this report with the Springfield Daily Citizen. You can find a link to their full story here.

Last week we learned about the district’s plan to enforce financial penalties for teachers who break their contracts. This sparked a closer look at the staffing issues.

So far this year, 131 teachers have decided to quit or retire. The retirements doubled the number of educators who left last year.

“It was a respected profession. It’s just not that anymore,” said part-time teacher and Springfield National Education Association President Laura Mullins.

Over the past few years, educators say they’ve been under a mountain of pressure.

“When you add something to the plate, something’s got to come off. The plate is only so big,” said Melissa Albright.

She says the pandemic was the final straw for her. She broke her contract and decided to retire last year.

“I spent 31 years in the classroom. I had my fair share of parents upset with me, students upset with me, and the district upset with me. There comes a breaking point,” explained Albright.

Mullins says the work environment for teachers has become unstable.

“I don’t know that we’re going to feel like we are secure and stable and where we’re moving forward when there’s a lot of push to undo things that we were able to not have to worry about. The things we could count on are now being questioned,” she said.

Albright said, “We have teachers who teach lessons, and parents get upset with the content. They think that they’re trying to be indoctrinated. We have people who don’t like the curriculum taught, books they don’t want their children to learn about. There are so many different things that these teachers are facing. Some of our public is not thoroughly educated correctly. They hear bits and pieces from the news they watch, from the other parents who are also spreading misinformation.”

Both educators attribute what they consider the attack on public education to the current political climate.

Mullins said, “I’m really in tune to finding the root of where things start, and that leads me to Jefferson City.”

“We have politicians who are making rules for our jobs who have never set foot in a classroom,” said Albright.

Tuesday, the Missouri House passed the “Parents’ Bill of Rights Act of 2022″. In short, it would require school boards to “recognize and affirm the protected right of parents to direct the education of their minor child.” It includes other provisions that would force schools to open their doors more widely to parents or face funding restrictions or lawsuits. The bill also mentions language that alludes to critical race theory.

“The idea of what some of those bills are presenting is so concerning that’s enough to make them say I’m out,” said Mullins.

Springfield school administrators say they recognize teachers’ concerns and plan to use pandemic relief funds to alleviate some stress.

“It’s going to be more around a culture piece, ensuring that buildings have some additional supports that maybe they didn’t previously have. Hopefully, that will bring a higher level of job satisfaction,” said Deputy Superintendent of Springfield Public Schools, John Mulford.

Mullins says she hopes it will help increase staff confidence.

“I think that the district needs to think about each decision they’re making and how that might roll out in the minds of their staff,” she said.

Albright said, “It’s a scary time for teachers in general. It needs to be a scary time for our parents and our community.”

Educators say they have many more struggles.

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