Anyone who has children in Orange County Schools has heard all about teachers leaving. Sometimes it feels like, on a weekly basis, students are reporting to their parents about new shifts in teachers, teachers leaving, and new replacements being introduced mid-semester.
In recent years, teacher attrition in OCS peaked at 19%. With inadequate recoupment rates, Orange County Schools has seen a loss in staff each year since 2018.
District leaders blame COVID for this increase, but if you look at other counties, you can see Orange County has seen a MASSIVE increase in attrition while other counties remained relatively stable during COVID.
The Local Teachers Union Confirms: This is an "urgent problem".
The OCAE report showed that 54.7% of staff cited "Problems with Leadership" as a top reason for leaving OCS. Other reasons for leaving included heavy schedule demands, pay, and understaffing burdens.
In an interview with North Carolina Public Radio, the head of the local teachers union explained how bad things are in Orange County Schools:
The same union leader addressed the OCS School Board with "urgent" concerns about the "exodus of teachers". She expressed how teachers are leaving because they have "had enough". She indicated that teachers feel disrespected, and she did not mean by students.
In the same report, the OCAE highlighted this quote to represent how teachers in the district are feeling:
A third-party audit reveals a toxic environment.
In the most recent Orange County Schools Equity Report, auditors interviewed more than 100 school staff. The report describes that "Staff stated there is not a culture of trust and open, honest communication throughout the district. Several staff shared the district was not healthy, was toxic, and not functioning well."
The following quotes came from interviews and surveys of OCS Staff members. Identities of these staff members were not provided in the third-party audit report, but you can access the report here.
What should be done?
OCCIE is committed to doing our part to have a positive impact:
We're tracking and disseminating this information. Reporting progress, in and of itself, often has a profound impact on outcomes.
We're sharing ideas and solutions for our community to consider. In the coming months, OCCIE will publish new analyses and proposals for policies and systems improvements, as well as suggestions for direct action by citizens to help enact change for the better.