Education

Mar 8, 2013 11:46 PM by Erin Steuber

Teachers Talk About Their Struggles in the Classroom

A group of Lafayette teachers, who all have been teaching for at least 20 years, will not be back next fall. This is a story about struggles in the classroom. And it's inspired by one Lafayette teacher's story.

Wednesday night, Abby Breaux, a 25-year-veteran in the classroom, announced she's had enough. Before the school board and the public, she passionately expressed her day-to-day frustrations, which she says is driving good teachers away.

Breaux, and three of her colleagues, are all in the same boat and shared their stories with KATC's Erin Steuber.

Breaux recieved a standing ovation Wednesday as she left the podium at the school board meeting in tears.

"It was a long time in the making, it wasn't just this year. Discipline is just getting less and less, and the students behavior is getting worst, worst and worst," said Breaux. "We as teachers, we're not teaching anymore, we're disciplining more than we're teaching."

After teaching for 25 years in the parish, Breaux says she is not coming back. Not because she doesn't love teaching, but she's come to hate her job.

"Physically, I can't take it anymore, so I think it's time for me to go. But I hope that what we're doing, and what all this is about, will help make changes for all those young teachers coming up. And that's the main goal," said Breaux.

Breaux has inspired several teachers she has worked with at Edgar Martin Middle School to come forward. One already retired in January.

"When all of this evaluation system started to come down from the state, I knew it was time for me to go," said Andrea Thibodeaux, a teacher of 20 years.
Another is retiring at the end of the year.

"It's like I've been treading water all this time, trying to stay afloat and trying to stay alive, and the waters here, and all I see is this big tidal wave coming. It's time to go," said Linda Rhoads, a teacher of 25 years.

And another doesn't know where she stands.

"There are students that are vindictive because their teacher wrote them up so they're going to make patterns on that standardized test," said Jennifer Guillory, a teacher of 25 years. "The fact that my salary is based on the whim of a 13 year old bother me a little bit."

As of today, Lafayette Parish has lost 159 veteran teachers this school year.

"We've gotta figures out a way to keep them here and make this a fun job again," said Lafayette Parish School Superintendent Dr. Pat Cooper. "This should not be the job that it is right now. It's just full of stress, full of angst and they're always feeling like somebody's looking at them and trying to get them. We have to do our part at the local system to make them not feel that way."

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