Dozens of teachers have quit their jobs in Pennsylvania’s capital city amid a wave of violence from students as early as the first grade, it has emerged.
The Harrisburg Education Association (HEA) said that at least 45 teachers resigned between July and October, and more have followed since. Those who remain are now demanding more help from administrators.
‘I have been kicked, punched, hit, scratched. I’ve had a student physically restraining me in front of my other students,’ first-grade teacher Amanda Shaeffer told board members, according to Penn Live.
She added that ‘many of the personal things that I have bought for my classroom have been broken or destroyed.’
Shaeffer was joined by around half a dozen other teachers and several parents on Monday as she called for faster and tougher steps to be taken against transgressors.
They want the creation of a coalition of teachers, parents and administrators to help address violence in schools, and more consistency in how incidents are dealt with.
They’re also calling for better training and support for dealing with kids who are suffering from abuse at home, or mental health problems.
‘We aren’t complaining. We are here begging for help so that we can help those students,’ said HEA President Jody Barksdale.
She called for the board to do something in January, but says that ‘not much’ has changed in the almost a year since then.
‘Teachers and students are being hit, kicked, slapped, scratched, cussed at…. and observing other students flip over tables, desks and chairs,’ she said.
‘Teachers have had to take the rest of their class into the hallway top protect them during these outbursts.’
Just three or four sites are responsible for the majority of the complaints, the HEA said. It wouldn’t identify which schools are suffering.
‘We have a lot of schools in the district where things are going really well,’ Barksdale said. ‘But there are a few buildings where a lot of these behaviors are standouts, and that’s why we’re here. To address those standouts.’
Superintendent Sybil Knight-Burney agreed to the formation of a group to deal with the problem, but told Fox News 43 she would need help from home too.
‘Once we meet and find out that there are needs that we need to have serviced, that means it’s going to take parent involvement to make that happen.’
She added that she had no plans to resign: ‘I try to see the good, and think that these students and kids need me, and I’m trying to do something positive and different.’
The school district responded by saying that it is ‘unfortunate that our teacher organization has chosen to engage in public discourse opposed to factual and substantive discussions.’
It said it hired 130 people, including 30 professional staff, between April and August, but still has 38 professional job vacancies ‘as a result of resignations due to a host of reasons and retirements.’
It said it already offers development and mentoring programs for teachers, and has an ‘open door policy’ if staff have concerns.
It added that its success ‘hinges on all stakeholders taking a positive and committed stance on moving the quality of education forward for every student; this includes professional responsibility, accountability and true ownership of the work’.
Source/The Daily Mail