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Letters to the Editors

Look for ways to keep teachers

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 26, 2000

Editor: Re: Board wants to punish teachers who bolt, Oct. 19 Hernando Times:

When teachers leave their jobs during the school year it does disrupt the educational process. Substitute teachers are placed in the classroom and they are given the difficult task of picking up where the departing teacher left off. This is a big headache for administrators, a source of concern for parents, and many times a setback for the students.

It is a complicated problem, a problem that encompasses many issues, including teachers' salaries and the national teacher shortage. However, complicated problems usually don't have simple solutions, and what the Hernando County School Board is asking the state Department of Education to do borders on the ridiculous.

The School Board, according to an article on Oct. 19, will ask the Department of Education to suspend a teacher's license if the teacher leaves the county for a better job. This is not a slap on the hand; it is depriving someone of his or her livelihood.

Should the state do the same to doctors and lawyers, or anyone who carries a state license? Consider how hypocritical it would be to ask that someone's license be suspended who leaves the county, and then turn around and hire someone else who is willing to leave another county.

The board should be looking for ways to encourage teachers to move here. I don't see a whole lot of young, new teachers wanting to come here if the word gets out that we will ask that their license be taken away if they want to leave. How can you stop someone who wants to make more money, or someone who is finally offered the job of their dreams, from pursuing that? Quite frankly, I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

Edd Poore, the personnel director, says 95 percent of the reasons for leaving are reasonable. So, why suggest something so extreme? Board member John Druzbick and the other board members should listen to their own lawyer, Karen Gaffney, who according to the article doesn't think much of the idea either.

If the board wants to stop teachers from leaving in the middle of the school year, then look to see why they are leaving and address those issues. But don't punish someone for wanting to better themselves and their families.
-- Rolando Herrera, guidance counselor, Powell Middle School

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