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OEA President Agrees With Survey Findings, Says Disconnect Still There

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
OEA President Agrees With Survey Findings, Says Disconnect Still There

The President of the Overton County Education Association said she agrees with most of the findings in a recent state Teacher’s Survey, but there is still a disconnect between the state and teachers.

President Jennifer Eilender said the findings were not surprising. Most of the survey questions regarded how adequately trained teachers felt in new reading and CTE programs. Nine out of ten early reading educators felt they were adequately trained. Seven out of ten teachers said they felt they were adequately trained to teach curriculum. Seven out of ten CTE teachers said they were satisfied with their programs of study.

“I think the biggest hurdle that education is facing right now is retaining teachers and a lot of that is because the well-meaning people at the state department keep pushing out more and more initiatives and more and more requirements that teachers need to do outside their main role of educating kids,” Eilender said.

Eilender stopped short of naming specific requirements and programs. However, teachers across Tennessee have expressed frustrations with such state programs as higher TCAP test standards causing third-grade students to repeat grades and the “Age-Appropriate Materials Act” that requires teachers to take the time to post books they keep in their class room online for public review.

“I think those kinds of things while they do have the best of intentions, they tend to pile up, and I think they cause a little bit of burn out,” Eilender said. “A lot of people just feel like their drowning. I’ve been teaching 33 years and at this point we have more requirements on us than I’ve ever had in my 33 years. It’s just one thing after another. I don’t think it’s coming necessarily from the school level. I think it’s coming from the state level.”

Eilender said many of these initiatives and requirements are not even about education.

“These trends are kind of like pendulums that swing and for every time it swings really really far one way, if you wait long enough it’ll swing back the other way,” Eilender said. “I’ve seen a lot of initiatives come through and fade out and come back through with a new name, basically the same thing all over again. I’m hoping eventually someone will wake up and see that we have clouded the water so much that we are not able to see clearly through it, and they’ll let us get back to the basics. Get back to what we all trained and love to do, which is teach our kids.”

Summer learning programs, efforts to reduce absenteeism and tutoring were viewed as having a positive impact in the COVID recovery efforts. Eilender said there is till a huge issue with absenteeism post pandemic.

“We’ve come quite aways in recovering from COVID, but I don’t think we are completely there yet, and I don’t know if we will ever be at the exact same place we were before COVID,” Eilender said. “I think COVID has substantially changed education as we know it.”

The survey was administered earlier this year. The Department of Education said 50 percent of teachers and 47 percent of administrators in Tennessee participated.


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