WHUR Radio Podcast: Why are teachers quitting?

Listen to a WHUR Radio interview with WTU President Jaqueline Lyons Pogue where she discusses the reasons some teachers are leaving the profession and what DCPS can do to help. The podcast interview titled "Where are the teachers?," cites the mass exodus of teachers leaving the field in the last year.  All of this as school systems are hoping to hire more teachers to fill classrooms.  

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D.C.-area schools see spike in resignations

When interviewed for the July 15th article in The Washington Post, WTU President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons expressed serious concerns with the high numbers of DC teacher resignations compared to other counties in the DC region. The lack of a contract, she said, doesn't help. 


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D.C. schools and teachers struggle to reach a contract after three years

The July 8th Washington Post article, mentioned the June rally led by WTU union members to demand protected planning time, due process for teachers appealing IMPACT, increased pay to match inflation, and smaller class sizes. President Lyons explained the importance of reducing class sizes to Washington Post reporter, Perry Stein, particularly on the heels of COVID-19. 
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Washington Post Opinion: Mayoral control of D.C. hasn’t necessarily improved the schools

April 8, 2022 - Editorial by Jacqueline Pogue Lyons, President, Washington Teachers’ Union


Nearly one-third of D.C. schools had heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems that were not working properly earlier this year. Students in some communities didn’t receive computers until weeks into the school year. The city took months to fill vacant covid-19 coordinator and substitute teaching positions. School communities struggle with budgets that fail to provide the basics for their students. Educators were not provided funds to purchase needed classroom supplies until December. These examples should be enough for D.C. to consider changes to mayoral control of our public schools.

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April 6, 2022 - During Budget Season Facilities Remain Item of Concern

“They said they’re trying to make improvements on repair and response time but some things are an emergency,” Lyons said. 

“Elevators aren’t working, which means you have concerns about moving classrooms to where students and staff with special needs have access,” she added.

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DC Educator Survey

Thanks to all our teachers who took the time to participate in the DC Educator Survey.

The demands on educators are through the roof, and our teachers are in distress.  EmpowerEd and WTU conducted a survey with over 600 DCPS and DC public charter school teacher responses across all wards, which shows that a staggering 81 % of educators say morale has worsened from previous years.  14 % say they are considering leaving their posts before the end of the school year, with another 18 % seriously considering leaving at the end of the year and 14 % saying they are somewhat seriously considering leaving. Only 23 % say they would definitely stay. 

DC already has the highest teacher turnover rate in the country, with 25-30 % of educators leaving their schools yearly- compared to the urban average of 16-19 %.  While many have pointed to figures showing DCPS keeping teachers they rate as “highly effective”, 57 % of the teachers who have left in the past seven years were rated either effective or highly effective. DC also lost more Black educators than any city in the country in the 10 years following the implementation of the IMPACT teacher evaluation system- which was found by a study commissioned by the District to be racially biased.

The number one ranked solution educators say would keep them in the classroom is flexible scheduling, with hundreds of educators noting in comments the overwhelming hours and impossible demands being put on teachers to make up for “learning loss”.  Educators see their peers in other professions gaining additional job flexibility since the pandemic, but education has not innovated in the same ways.  Many note working 10-12 hours and again on the weekend, feeling forced to choose between their profession and their commitment to family and their own well-being.  One of the key things highlighted in our survey, is the demands on educators who are also parents- managing unsustainable hours.  One educator said “I have a child and for most of her life I have been exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally because I typically work 65 - 75 hours a week (often giving up one to two full weekend days a month). She deserves better.”  This sentiment was echoed across the survey.

Teachers also noted higher pay, less focus on standardized testing, more professional autonomy to do their jobs and additional classroom support as key shifts needed to retain them.  

Importantly, educators made clear that they are leaving primarily due to city-wide and system-wide policies, not challenges working with students. 59 % identified city-wide and LEA-wide policies as the primary culprit, while only 14 % pointed to challenges working with students.  (24 % blamed school level policies and only 4 % noted challenges with colleagues).


Click here for the FULL RESULTS.

See the full results of the survey along with notable quotes from educators on morale, how the pandemic has changed their perception of teaching as a profession and what would keep them in the classroom!


Memorandum of Agreement – Vaccine Mandate Impacts & Effects

President Jacqueline Pogue Lyons has signed an MOA on the impacts & effects of Mayor Bowser's COVID-19 vaccination mandate. 

  • WTU successfully bargained for Teachers to receive sick leave for getting vaccinations or boosters. Specifically, the MOA requires DCPS to grant each Teacher three (3) hours of sick leave per injection for a vaccination or booster against COVID-19. In addition, the MOA provides each Teacher with eight (8) hours of sick leave for getting fully vaccinated or a booster.
  • WTU also fought hard to secure concessions from DCPS to provide COVID-19 testing for Teachers to help keep our school communities safe.
  • The MOA protects Teachers who have submitted and are awaiting a decision on a request for a medical or religious exemption by providing that those Teachers may continue to test weekly in lieu of complying with the mandate.
  • The MOA also provides that Teachers who choose to resign or involuntarily separate from DCPS as a result of the vaccination mandate shall have their personnel records expunged of any disciplinary actions taken on the basis of their vaccination status.


You can view the full MOA here.


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