Tennessee’s Department of Education Is Having a Mass Turnover Rate


The Tennessee Department of Education (TDOE) has had 240 employees leave since February, Fox 17 reports.

Of the 240 people who left the department: 149 people resigned; 33 people retired; and another 54 people received “involuntary terminations.”

TDOE has experienced a 19 percent turnover rate under new Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn, who took over the job nine months ago. Previous commissioners had rates between nine percent and 14 percent, according to Fox 17.

A TDOE spokeswoman issued a statement to Chalkbeat.org about the high turnover rate.

“Continued growth requires new approaches, and thus the work must look different than it has in the past,” she said.

Last week, the ChalkBeat reported that Schwinn had created a workplace culture that has gotten rid of “new and long standing” talent.

Employees who have left range from CFOs, superintendents and executive directors.

People who spoke to Chalkbeat on the condition of being anonymous told the news site that Schwinn had created an environment of tight deadlines, miscommunication and micromanagement. Furthermore, these employees allege she has built an “expensive, top heavy leadership team” that has not filled important employee positions.

“Morale is completely depleted. Most people who are left are either actively looking for jobs or are brushing up their resumes,” An anonymous employee said. “This isn’t about people being terminated or even reclassified; it’s just people quitting.”

Gov. Bill Lee’s Press Secretary Laine Arnold told Chalkbeat that the governor fully supports Schwinn.

“The Department of Education has a clear directive to challenge the status quo by developing solutions that best advocate for students and teachers,” Arnold said. “We are confident that changes in structure reflect a desire to build the most effective team that will deliver on this mission.”

Lee hired Schwinn in January after he became governor. Previously, she acted as Chief Deputy Commissioner of Academics at the Texas Education Agency. While in Texas, she was involved in a controversy about having local school systems pay for testing costs. Local school board members in Texas called it an unfunded mandate.

– – –

Zachery Schmidt is the digital editor of Battleground State NewsIf you have any tips, email Zachery at [email protected]








Related posts

6 Thoughts to “Tennessee’s Department of Education Is Having a Mass Turnover Rate”

  1. Sim

    The problem with the education system now is that “Local Control” is not in “Control”.

    The Department of Education, both state and Federal, should be abolished along with all their “rules and regulations”, and allow teaching to get back to “Teaching”.

    An Education isn’t so much about “Knowledge” as it is in learning the principles of “Common Sense” to continue learning throughout life.

    What we’re seeing today is not much more than “Indoctrination” to only “Think” a certain way, rather than consider all options.

    Common Core math is a prime example of that, Kids are not learning the old fashion way of doing Math, nor are many of them learning the Common Core method.

    Some have stopped teaching Cursive writing, how is a kid going to read any of our National Document??

    Schools, and Colleges, have become more of a “Liberal Indoctrination” class than an “Education class”.

    I prefer and willing to fight for local control to be restored.

    Fire all of them and board up the windows and door on the “Department of Education”.

  2. Russell

    In the late ’60’s I received my BS in Industrial Education while growing up in another state. That was about the year teacher unions began. I didn’t last long in that career and went another direction that had more future. However, I have maintained my network of teaching friends and have been told the tremendous decline in the teaching “profession”. This was mainly a Liberal movement and over the years has allowed more and more “just do enough to get by, pass as many as you can and you’ll be guaranteed a job”. In that time we have lost Home Education, Industrial Arts, Drivers Ed and many more classes that can lead students to fruitful lives. I am so glad that after four career transfers that I settled in TN. As a CEO at first I could see how uneducated young workers were the majority, but now that I read news like this that perhaps there is hope. We need to get tough, to promote based on skills in the classroom and in the school networks. KEEP IT UP!

  3. Kevin

    Kudos to Ms. Schwinn and Governor Lee! This is what needs to happen to drain the Tennessee SWAMP! Just the fact that there were “CFO’s, superintendents, and executive directors” that could leave, retire or get the boot, indicates that we have a BLOATED system!

    For education to happen, you need a teacher and a student, the rest is pure overhead!

  4. Ralph

    This would be very welcomed news indeed if the department is radically downsized through attrition, voluntary or otherwise. In his state of the state address, Gov. Lee established a very clear direction for education: teach civics, character formation, and American exceptionalism; root out Common Core wherever we find it; promote school choice and empower parents to make the best choice for their children.

    For those who cannot abide by this direction: good riddance to bad garbage.

  5. Rick

    Big problems and they start at the top. Bad choice Gov Lee, just give people more of your slick advertising campaign at election time and hopefully they will forget your bad choices.

  6. Randy

    I applaud the department of education for purging the ranks of a bloated bureaucratic, ineffective partisan organization. Academic Institutions must be efficient and effective for students to achieve their full potential.