NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Amid warnings about a morale crisis now facing Metro Schools, NewsChannel 5 kicks off a daylong conversation to understand what's really going on inside Metro Schools.
Throughout the day, we'll be listening to the teachers as they tell us what they're seeing on the front lines and how it affects our children.
Over the weekend, our NewsChannel 5 Investigates team gathered a group of Nashville educators for a blunt conversation. It comes just days after we obtained a confidential report where a Nashville law firm warns it could become "difficult, if not impossible, for the district to retain qualified and exemplary employees."
We asked them to raise their hands "if the morale under this administration is about the same as it was before."
Not a single hand went up.
"Raise your hands if you think it's worse," we asked, as hands shot up.
Together, the 14 educators represent hundreds of years of combined experience in Metro Schools. They shared powerful stories of being pushed to a breaking point, about feeling overwhelmed and unappreciated, about classrooms that are increasingly out of control.
Part of the problem, they agreed, is pay.
"I found a paycheck stub. We don't get those anymore, but it was from a couple of years ago," said high school teacher Susan Norwood.
"My paycheck now -- there's not even a hundred dollars difference. Prices are going up in Nashville, and I really don't know how we can attract and keep teachers if we don't pay well."
Middle school teacher Janita Sanders also pointed to unrealistic demands.
"We are expected to be a teacher, a disciplinarian, attendance clerk, if you do exceptional ed, you actually teach the students and then you are also their case manager," Sanders said.
"I mean, there is no way. I work every night and at least one day during the weekend. I've had to cut myself off from not doing that as much. We are not given time to do our job."
Elementary guidance counselor Constance Wade expressed hope that Schools Director Dr. Shawn Joseph would begin to listen to those concerns.
"I'm hearing hurt. I'm hearing pain from the teachers because we want what's best for children," Wade said.
"I think perhaps, maybe, the administration is not aware of some of the things because teacher are on the frontline. And it would be my hope that it's a conversation that has opened up and people will say, you know, I didn't see it that way."
The teachers share powerful stories about what's driving the low morale and how Metro Schools is failing so many students.
That's today in every newscast on NewsChannel 5.