Parents aren’t happy that teachers are threatening to call out sick

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The ‘Red Apple Virus’ may keep Shelby County teachers at home, and parents aren’t happy.

Teachers told the school board they’re not making enough money and haven’t had a raise in three years, and said they may stage a sickout.

Parents we spoke to are frustrated. They say it-s wrong for teachers to call out sick just because they’re not getting the money they feel they deserve.

“I don’t think it’s right to let the children suffer from that because education is still important because you took a vow as a teacher to teach,” parent Roger Jones said.

Jones said he isn’t sure if there’s much hope for Shelby County’s schools or his son’s education. He also said he thinks it’s unfair that some teachers are threatening to stay home and stage a sick out.

“It’s just kind of like giving up, and that’s a bad example to send to our children, especially when we need them in school more than ever,” he said.

Some people who support teachers getting a raise used Facebook to get the message out. One person wrote, “I support you 100 percent.”

Another wrote, “Teachers deserve more than they are getting and they deserve more respect.”

WREG asked the school district what happens if teachers call out sick. Officials said they have no comment at this time, but did say so far, there’s no record of increased teacher absences.

Some parents think this sends the wrong message to their children.

“I think that that’s stupid really,” said Treniecee Lipford.

Lipford said she believes the district could be heading in the wrong direction if teachers go through with this.

“I don’t know what the outcome will be but it might not be that good because our kids are already behind,” she said.

The superintendent sent the following letter to teachers last week:

Teachers,

We are now three weeks into the new school year, and I just want to take a moment to recognize and thank you for your role in making this one of our smoothest starts in recent memory. I know that no single person or factor impacts the achievement of our students more than a teacher. The State’s release of some remarkable school level achievement and growth data this week was yet another reminder of how hard you work.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to meet with groups of teachers and hear from many of you individually. Talking with you and hearing your feedback is something I appreciate greatly and remain very committed to. I think it’s important to maintain a two-way dialogue so that I and my team at central office can make informed decisions about how to support you as individuals, as well as support your schools.

Some of you have expressed concern recently about the timing of teacher retention bonuses, and I am happy to report that these will be paid on the first paycheck in October. I know that the last year has been incredibly challenging, so I was very happy that our Board supported our decision to provide bonuses for all teachers who remained with Shelby County Schools in 2014-15. For the large majority of teachers, the bonuses are higher than a traditional step increase. In addition to the bonuses, all teachers will be receiving the first of two $100 payments in October to be used for instructional supplies in the classroom.

I have also listened to many teachers and other employees over the past year who said the cost of health benefits was a difficult burden. In response, I directed staff to analyze the issue and work diligently to find a solution that benefits employees. This year, as you may know, our budget is structured in a way that the District is now absorbing more of the cost for health benefits so that you are paying less for your premiums.

Before closing, I would like to thank those of you who collaborated on the development of the new TEM 4.0. I know that teams of teachers met more than a dozen times dating back to early spring, and I believe this strong feedback helped us take a real leap forward with this year’s rubric. I’m looking forward to my next meeting with teachers regarding TEM 4.0 next month, and I’m interested in hearing more from you on this as we move through the rest of the school year.

Please know that in my commitment to the students of this District, I always recognize the invaluable role you play. I aim to be as supportive and responsive as possible and, therefore, appreciate all of my interactions with you.

I wish you the best the rest of this school year and thank you for your hard work every day.

Sincerely,

Dorsey Hopson II, Esq.
Superintendent

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