UPDATE 7/29: Was the State Board right to approve furloughs?

UPDATE 7/29: Atlanta Public Schools joins several others districts in saying they wont furlough teachers. Read the story here.

UPDATE: As expected, state board members cleared the way for school districts to furlough teachers. Wait there’s more: the unanimous vote gives school districts the opportunity to use up to seven more furlough days.

The State Board of Education is meeting today to vote on amending rules so that any of Georgia’s 182 school districts could change the terms of the teachers’ contracts to allow for furloughs.

Last week, Gov. Sonny Perdue requested that public school districts furlough teachers for three days to save the state about $100 million.

State employees will be furloughed three days and state agencies must cut their budgets by 5 percent because of a $900 million hole in the budget.

Perdue can’t make the districts furlough teachers. But he told system leaders that the amount of money they receive from the state will be cut to reflect furloughs. If schools systems don’t want to furlough, they have to find other places to cut.

Of course, school districts have been slicing and dicing their budgets for years because of austerity cuts and other reductions in state funding.

Some school districts – such as Gwinnett, Forsyth and Cherokee – decided to furlough. Many other systems have done the same, cutting into teachers’ pre-planning time as they prepare for the new school year.

Other systems – such as Cobb and DeKalb – have found other places to cut.

Several systems that furloughed teachers told them not to come in yesterday or today. Teachers, are you still doing work from home?

It’s expected that the state board will approve the change to allow for furloughs. But what message would the board send if they voted it down?

NOTE: The State Board of Regents is expected to take up furloughs and budget cuts for Georgia’s public colleges and universities when it meets Aug. 11 and 12.

STORY HELP: Reporter Nancy Badertscher is looking to speak with private school parents who are using scholarships funded by the tax credit approved by the General Assembly in 2008. If you would like to participate in this story please contact Nancy at nbadertscher@ajc.com.

MORE STORY HELP: A co-worker is writing a back-to-school story looking at who is volunteering in schools. If your PTA or school has an interesting group — whether it be all fathers or all grandparents or employees from a local company — we want to hear from you. Send a note to gstaples@ajc.com if you’d like to participate.

322 comments Add your comment

happiest teacher

July 28th, 2009
9:03 am

It sure is nice working for a charter these days. We aren’t burdened by a parasitic textbook contract, so we’re not being furloughed. And we aren’t bloated with a giant bureaucracy, so I’m really looking forward to my Christmas bonus…

DeKalb teachers

July 28th, 2009
9:04 am

If DeKalb teachers are not livid about the fact that the largest education organization in DeKalb used their future retirement income as a bargaining chip to save teachers furloughs, while at the same time refusing to openly and adamantly demand cuts in the extra one hundred million dollars DeKalb pays in administrative salaries compared to Fulton, then it is extremely hard to have any sympathy for anything DeKalb teachers are suffering, including the teaching conditions, and the violations of their rights as teachers, under the Crawford Lewis and company.

Of course when DeKalb teachers have made an organization that represents administrators their main spokesperson, it’s hard to have any sympathy in the first place. When administrators who pad the payroll to the tune of an extra one hundred million compared to Fulton, are also members of the same organization that you expect to look out for you, well, what do you expect?

Robert

July 28th, 2009
9:25 am

The relationship of the GAE group with the Crawford Lewis administration is indeed incestuous. How can a group be the watchdog for teachers when administrators are members of the same group? It doesn’t make ANY sense. How can this group fight for teachers when the administrators are also members? The Lewis Administration appears to be big time afraid of MACE. I will stick with MACE. MACE represents ONLY teachers, not administrators.

Not Jeff

July 28th, 2009
9:26 am

What are the demographics of the Georgia legislative body?

ScienceTeacher671

July 28th, 2009
9:27 am

I’m using my extra days of vacation to contact our elected “leaders” and urge the General Assembly to get back to Atlanta – on their own dime.

They knew the economy was bad and getting worse in February when they drew up the budget. Now we’re 3 weeks into the fiscal year and already $1 billion in the hole?

The Savannah Morning News has recently published 3 editorials with suggestions for making up the shortfall. I urge you all to read them, and I’m including the links.

http://savannahnow.com/node/756872
http://savannahnow.com/node/757724
http://savannahnow.com/node/758019

As per the last editorial, you might also want to contact those who aspire to be governor next time.

And there’s that sales tax holiday coming up…it might save the average family $5-20, which may be balanced out by higher prices some stores charge during those days. Does the state really need to forego $10-13 million in revenue at this time?

Stephanie B. Usher

July 28th, 2009
9:30 am

I was shocked to hear of the furlough news. Now, I am afraid of further required furloughs since the board may vote for our contracts to be “open” to almost any changes. My main concern is for the students. Teachers are already stressed to the max with all of the required testing and data collecting. Each day it seems more and more changes are decided by an autonomous board of education. It is difficult to understand how those on the board expect the schools to obtain and/or maintain the standards set before us when we observe more and more acts reflecting how little we are appreciated or supported. In the end, it ultimately affects the students in many negative ways. Isn’t educating our future citizens enough of a reminder to think about these latest decisions with the main focus being on the education of our young people? Teacher performance and student performance are linked together. We are placing teachers in an evermore stressful environment that will ultimately be detrimental to student performance.

ScienceTeacher671

July 28th, 2009
9:30 am

By the way, Senator Eric Johnson’s office informed me that it’s against the law for the General Assembly to meet without getting paid. I pointed out to him that until the state board meets today, it’s also against the state rules to furlough teachers…

gwinnett educator

July 28th, 2009
9:39 am

I sometimes wonder if this state can get any more backwards than it already is. sigh

Thinking

July 28th, 2009
9:40 am

Does anyone know how much the sales tax free weekend will cost the state?

ScienceTeacher671

July 28th, 2009
9:46 am

Thinking, yes…$10-13 million, according to state officials. (It’s in my post that hasn’t shown up yet, too…)

ScienceTeacher671

July 28th, 2009
9:49 am

While waiting for the missing post to show up, here’s another piece of a South Georgia newspaper editorial, this time from Swainsboro’s Forest-Blade:

I think “Go Fish, Georgia” is about as relevant as a wart on a rhinoceros’ rump. I believe it will be a marginal economical development program at best. Given that Alabama and Florida have effectively rolled us for all the water in Lake Lanier, I think the governor should have been focused on the water, not the fish. I think also that making teachers take a three-day furlough to help offset the budget deficit while still funding “Go Fish, Georgia” is just short of immoral and tells you where the governor’s interests lie.

Elaine

July 28th, 2009
9:58 am

One thing nobody’s talking about:

Metro districts pay teachers much more than the state base. For most veteran teachers, the state’s portion of his/her salary is roughly half (a higher percentage for new teachers, and even lower for seasoned veterans). So, If the state yanks three day’s pay, it’s not really three full days’ pay. The counties are already paying the rest. Systems like Cherokee and Fulton need to be transparent about where their share of the savings from these furloughs will be going. Is it to something more important than paying teachers to prepare for the school year? And why not cut 1 1/2 days instead of all 3?

And lets get this straight: a majority of the work teachers do to get ready for the school year can’t be done from home. Unpacking boxes of books, setting up learning centers, unpacking, sorting through and organizing manipulatives, games, art supplies, making bulletin boards, arranging the furniture, setting up listening stations, procuring materials from the media center for the first unit(s)etc. None of this is lesson planning which most teachers do on their own time, anyway; it’s physical classroom setup. Many schools were painted or retiled/carpeted over the summer, or are alltogether new schools. Everything, absolutely everything is in boxes. This can’t be done in 2 days….especially if one of them is meet-and-greet when the parents and students are going to be there.

If your child attends in Cherokee or Fulton, and if you show up to meet-and-greet or the first day to a classroom that looks ready for learning, thank your teacher. He/she worked for no pay so your child wouldn’t be affected. And most teachers will because they’re like that.

Stephanie B. Usher

July 28th, 2009
9:59 am

Enter your comments here

DeKalb Conservative

July 28th, 2009
10:01 am

Here’s a question for the group. If a furlough is not acceptable, what aspects of the education budget are not necessary? What programs, or budgets would you reduce or cease?

ScienceTeacher671

July 28th, 2009
10:03 am

From the Savannah Morning News, Thursday July 23:

Teacher furloughs would save about $99 million. However, it means dumbing down schools…In a special session, the General Assembly could restore those funds to education in one simple move: Enacting a cigarette tax increase of $1 a pack. While Georgia’s cigarette tax is currently 37 cents per pack, the national average is about $1.25.

A tobacco tax increase would bring in an additional $400 million in revenues.

Elaine

July 28th, 2009
10:10 am

DeKalb Conservative:

Almost everyone who works in the district office. They tie themselves down with meetings with each other and rarely ever darken the door of a school. Back when I was in the classroom fulltime, we used to joke that the entire admin building could be abducted by aliens and not a schoolchild would notice. Admin services to keep: payroll and benefits depts., facilities depts, and purchasing. And possibly content area coordinators. Seriously, though, we might save money on facilities with a better paid “facilities manager” instead of a head custodian at every school, and give him/her a facilities budget to use with private contractors. County maintenance is wasteful–one guy to change a doorknob while two watch and a fourth sits in the van with the air running so it doesn’t heat up.

And speaking of facilities, in DeKalb, you have such wonderful, wonderful small schools. And I know no one wants to see his/her neighborhood school close. But honestly, it’s very, very expensive. Think about it: say you’ve got two elementary schools with 200 and 300 students respectively. Imagine how much more cheaply you can serve them in one school of 500. Same number of teachers, same pupil/teacher ratio, but only one principal, one secretary, one site to pay taxes on and maintain, one media specialist, one larger library with more books instead of two small ones with fewer…etc. I understand the precious blessings of a small school, but they come with a very hefty pricetag.

ScienceTeacher671

July 28th, 2009
10:11 am

Currently missing 2 posts….

mift

July 28th, 2009
10:16 am

Furloughed these first two days but working at school anyway- how many other jobs require folks work for free?

DeKalb Conservative

July 28th, 2009
10:23 am

Mift-

I sometimes work weekends and holidays. Its what adults that want to have nice things and nice lifestyles do. The alternative would be to:
– add up all the furlough days by school district
– divide by the total number of school days
– this gives you the number of teachers you would need to lay off
– have the teachers all draw straws (yes that crude) and the shortest straw(s) get laid off

Way Down South

July 28th, 2009
10:24 am

Brooks County and Valdosta City Schools told Perdue to stick it and will not be taking furlough days at this time.

high school teacher

July 28th, 2009
10:29 am

Elaine, since we are not working at all, then the county won’t pay us the local supplement portion either.

The front page story on ajc states that the state could furlough teachers as much as 10 days, which would eliminate every teacher work day that we have. According to Kathy Cox, students will be still be required to attend 180 days: “‘Systems will not be allowed to reduce the 180 days of instruction,’ she said. ‘We’re going to stand up for our teachers and our students so they can achieve academic success,”’ Cox said.” Call me crazy, but taking all of my planning days away doesn’t sound like standing up for teachers.

Semantics is underrated. They should just say that teachers are going to have a 5% pay cut and spread the cuts over the entire year. Teachers will still work the same amount of time whether or not they are furloughed, so just say that our salaries will be cut instead of saying we will have unpaid days. I understand that everyone is sacrificing and I don’t mind sacrificing with the crowd. However, it doesn’t sound good to hear that we aren’t getting paid for days that we will still work (at least good teachers will, anyway).

flipper

July 28th, 2009
10:29 am

Why not just cut the school year by two weeks and then cut out all the ridiculous indoctrination and fluff that takes up so much of the school day to make up for the first week and actually teach until the last day of school rather than having a week of parties and field days and just general chaos during the last week of school. Kids get more summer (my kids learn as much in one summer as they learn in a school year) – schools get more efficient. Teachers have a long enough summer to work on advanced degrees or get a summer job which would more than make up for two weeks of lost pay. Everyone wins.

Elaine

July 28th, 2009
10:29 am

DeKalb Conservative:

I agree with your point to mift. Professionals–not hourly wage earners–do often work after hours. And teachers need to conduct themselves as professionals if they want to be treated as such.

I think the outrage about the furloughs during preplanning stems more from the feeling that the buck always stops with teachers. Very rarely is anyone else in a system asked to pick up the slack. A rumor circulating in Fulton schools that may or may not be true: the Superintendent isn’t taking any furlough days, but teachers are taking all 3. The Supt. easily makes 3-4x the average teacher. The supt. by nature of her job teaches no children. Yet the people who do the very business of a school system–the teachers–are repeatedly “dumped on.” I seriosly doubt this rumor is true. I hope it isn’t.

DeKalb Conservative

July 28th, 2009
10:51 am

Leadership starts at the top. Same issues playing out here are the ones that played out in Atlanta furloughs. School administration, starting at the top should be on the front lines subjecting themselves to the same furloughs they want to push downstream. I think alot of people have taken offense that the Atlanta mayor’s office hasn’t imposed the same furloughs as where immediately down for police and fire
– isn’t if funny how police, fire and education are always the first programs to go when times get tough?

Since we’re talking about saving money, another consideration would be why does school start in the middle of August when the temperature outside is the hottest? The overhead to maintain temperature in these buildings during the hottest time of the year must be outrageous.

I should run for governor.

July 28th, 2009
11:02 am

It’s against the law for the General Assembly to meet without getting paid, but it is “ok” to give teachers “furloughs” from teacher work days? Every teacher, administrator, and law maker knows that those days were created to allow teachers to get paid for the enormous amount of work that happens outside the classroom. Just because you are given a furlough does not mean that work disappears.

Rosie

July 28th, 2009
11:13 am

Off topic, but very important to teachers- What about the new teacher evaluation instrument? What do teachers think?

[...] Excerpt from: State Board of Education takes up furloughs | Get Schooled [...]

Gimmee Gimmee

July 28th, 2009
11:22 am

Why would anyone work for free?

[...] Read more here:  State Board of Education takes up furloughs | Get Schooled [...]

TW

July 28th, 2009
11:28 am

Get what you pay for.

Alabama now tells Georgia jokes…sad.

But really, what has all this school nonsense have to do with Sonny’s $27 million fish park is South Georgia?

Leave your head in your butt, drop put of school, go fish, continue to let the wealthy Republicans pull your strings and make fortunes off your ignorance…

Morons.

Northview (Ex)Teacher

July 28th, 2009
11:33 am

I know that Kathy Cox and Sonny Purdue must be extremely proud of their “accomplishments” in making education in Georgia even more of a joke than it was. The irony, of course, is that many teachers were so disgusted with Barnes that they voted for Purdue. Well, the cure here is certainly worse than the disease, isn’t it? As long as the people of this state continue to vote for these moron Republicans, they should not be surprised at the results. Kathy Cox could not even manage her personal household budget, so it should come as no surprise that she is incapable of managing something as important as education. But the point here is that education is not important, so Kathy Cox is actually probably the best face to show the world what education in Georgia means.

I would not be surprised to see a good bit of passive-aggressive behavior on the part of teachers this year, especially towards the Republican parents. We all agree that most teachers are not in a position simply to walk away, so they will continue to work for a system that completely devalues them and their contribution. When you are not in a position to do the little extras this year, please feel free to quote Ms. Cox: “It kinda stinks.”

The truth is that teachers matter more than these people on this blog who spend their time bashing them. If you teacher-bashers don’t do your job, so what? Many of you teacher-bashers are wasting your lives in completely meaningless, boring, wasteful jobs. Go back to your cubes, rats. No wonder you hate those who have meaning in their lives, given what you live through every day.

But teachers matter. Teachers matter in ways that you would never understand because teaching is a vocation, although the likes of Purdue and Cox are doing everything possible to make it just a job, no more meaningful or valuable than what a cube rat does.

Take heart teachers and start looking for new positions outside of Georgia. I know that this year will be hard, but you can rise above whatever the despicable Republicans throw at you.

Here’s a poem that may speak to you:

God Has Pity On Kindergarten Children

God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children — less.
But adults he pities not at all.

He abandons them,
And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the scorching sand
To reach the dressing station,
Streaming with blood.

But perhaps
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.

Perhaps even we will spend on them
Our last pennies of kindness
Inherited from mother,

So that their own happiness will protect us
Now and on other days.

Yehuda Amichai

My advice to you teachers is to do whatever you must to get through this year (remember, no extras for any Republican parents) and simply forget about Georgia and all the benighted, malevolent, bellicose moron Republicans that run this so-called state like a plantation. Run away from here. Leave. Breathe free and follow your precious vocation somewhere that has some light.

Doni

July 28th, 2009
11:36 am

Someone asked what other items could be cut to make up the budget?
Start with looking at testing. The state of Georgia spends about 35 million dollars on student testing each year. 10.7 million of that is spent on tests required just by the state – not tests required by NCLB. Georgia spent 23 million last year to outside contractors for printing, developing, distributing, and scoring the CRCT.

Another place money could be cut is at the state DOE. Look at some of the jobs they have. I know of two former principals who were both kindly asked to resign who then got jobs with the state. Some of these jobs are ridiculous.

In the last few years, support positions have been added to improve test scores and graduation rates – these should be the first to go in tough times – LET THE TEACHERS TEACH – (not just test prep) and you will get better results. Sorry, but do we really need Literacy Coaches, Math Coaches, Graduation Coaches?

What?

July 28th, 2009
11:37 am

Rosie, what new teacher evaluation instrument? And who got paid off to develop a new one?

zoemol

July 28th, 2009
11:39 am

The retirement money Dekalb chose to use was NOT TRS money, it was a “perk” they used to match 403b contributions. Not every teacher had a 403b and I think Dekalb was one of the few systems in the area that did a matching contribution. I know our system doesn’t match, it just allows us to make contributions pre-tax from our paychecks.

Jack

July 28th, 2009
11:46 am

mift — No teacher can be “required” to work for free. It can be “suggested,” “encouraged,” whatever … but it can’t be required. According to both professional educator organizations, if the systems are not offering pay, the teachers are not required to attend — and the system cannot penalize them. (They open themselves to lawsuits if they do.) Many teachers will choose to go in on furlough days; many won’t. It doesn’t say anything about the professionalism of the teacher, whichever they choose. Sometimes, the right thing to do really does rest with the individual.

Rosie — It bugs me no end that tne evaluation instrument used for teachers had no teacher input. But then, what stuff that we have to deal with is discussed with us first anyway?

Guess What?

July 28th, 2009
11:50 am

How is Dooly County going to achieve the 3 days of furloughs? They started school July 17 and have already used 4 planning days before the furloughs were announced.

[...] Excerpt from: State Board of Education takes up furloughs | Get Schooled [...]

Northview (Ex)Teacher

July 28th, 2009
11:55 am

Postings seem to get lost today.

I know that Kathy Cox and Sonny Purdue must be extremely proud of their “accomplishments” in making education in Georgia even more of a joke than it was. The irony, of course, is that many teachers were so disgusted with Barnes that they voted for Purdue. Well, the cure here is certainly worse than the disease, isn’t it? As long as the people of this state continue to vote for these moron Republicans, they should not be surprised at the results. Kathy Cox could not even manage her personal household budget, so it should come as no surprise that she is incapable of managing something as important as education. But the point here is that education is not important, so Kathy Cox is actually probably the best face to show the world what education in Georgia means.

I would not be surprised to see a good bit of passive-aggressive behavior on the part of teachers this year, especially towards the Republican parents. We all agree that most teachers are not in a position simply to walk away, so they will continue to work for a system that completely devalues them and their contribution. When you are not in a position to do the little extras this year, please feel free to quote Ms. Cox: “It kinda stinks.”

The truth is that teachers matter more than these people on this blog who spend their time bashing them. If you teacher-bashers don’t do your job, so what? Many of you teacher-bashers are wasting your lives in completely meaningless, boring, wasteful jobs. Go back to your cubes, rats. No wonder you hate those who have meaning in their lives, given what you live through every day.

But teachers matter. Teachers matter in ways that you would never understand because teaching is a vocation, although the likes of Purdue and Cox are doing everything possible to make it just a job, no more meaningful or valuable than what a cube rat does.

Take heart teachers and start looking for new positions outside of Georgia. I know that this year will be hard, but you can rise above whatever the despicable Republicans throw at you.

Here’s a poem that may speak to you:

God Has Pity On Kindergarten Children

God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children — less.
But adults he pities not at all.

He abandons them,
And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the scorching sand
To reach the dressing station,
Streaming with blood.

But perhaps
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.

Perhaps even we will spend on them
Our last pennies of kindness
Inherited from mother,

So that their own happiness will protect us
Now and on other days.

Yehuda Amichai

My advice to you teachers is to do whatever you must to get through this year (remember, no extras for any Republican parents) and simply forget about Georgia and all the benighted, malevolent, bellicose moron Republicans that run this so-called state like a plantation. Run away from here. Leave. Breathe free and follow your precious vocation somewhere that has some light.

Howard

July 28th, 2009
12:00 pm

Perdue has given little support to Georgia’s public schools and so it is no wonder his “solution” to the budget crisis is to cut their funding further. And, legislative lawmakers seem to have no problem with the economic pain being experienced by public school teachers. Perhaps the Governor and legislators can share in this burden by reducing their costs as well.

Northview (Ex)Teacher

July 28th, 2009
12:04 pm

Some problem with posting today.

I know that Kathy Cox and Sonny Purdue must be extremely proud of their “accomplishments” in making education in Georgia even more of a joke than it was. The irony, of course, is that many teachers were so disgusted with Barnes that they voted for Purdue. Well, the cure here is certainly worse than the disease, isn’t it? As long as the people of this state continue to vote for these moron Republicans, they should not be surprised at the results. Kathy Cox could not even manage her personal household budget, so it should come as no surprise that she is incapable of managing something as important as education. But the point here is that education is not important, so Kathy Cox is actually probably the best face to show the world what education in Georgia means.

I would not be surprised to see a good bit of passive-aggressive behavior on the part of teachers this year, especially towards the Republican parents. We all agree that most teachers are not in a position simply to walk away, so they will continue to work for a system that completely devalues them and their contribution. When you are not in a position to do the little extras this year, please feel free to quote Ms. Cox: “It kinda stinks.”

The truth is that teachers matter more than these people on this blog who spend their time bashing them. If you teacher-bashers don’t do your job, so what? Many of you teacher-bashers are wasting your lives in completely meaningless, boring, wasteful jobs. Go back to your cubes, rats. No wonder you hate those who have meaning in their lives, given what you live through every day.

But teachers matter. Teachers matter in ways that you would never understand because teaching is a vocation, although the likes of Purdue and Cox are doing everything possible to make it just a job, no more meaningful or valuable than what a cube rat does.

Take heart teachers and start looking for new positions outside of Georgia. I know that this year will be hard, but you can rise above whatever the despicable Republicans throw at you.

Here’s a poem that may speak to you:

God Has Pity On Kindergarten Children

God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children — less.
But adults he pities not at all.

He abandons them,
And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the scorching sand
To reach the dressing station,
Streaming with blood.

But perhaps
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.

Perhaps even we will spend on them
Our last pennies of kindness
Inherited from mother,

So that their own happiness will protect us
Now and on other days.

Yehuda Amichai

My advice to you teachers is to do whatever you must to get through this year (remember, no extras for any Republican parents) and simply forget about Georgia and all the benighted, malevolent, bellicose moron Republicans that run this so-called state like a plantation. Run away from here. Leave. Breathe free and follow your precious vocation somewhere that has some light.

abacus2

July 28th, 2009
12:10 pm

Has anyone heard anything about Fayette’s decision?

Y oh Y

July 28th, 2009
12:19 pm

It is interesting that the fiscal conservatives in Atlanta tell us these cuts are necessary due to falling revenues but maintain the sales tax holiday. If tough choices are encessary then make them and cancel the sales tax holiday. Let everyone share the problem. Sadly the state Republicans swept to power by the teachers are trying to court votes with their antics. However the legislature should be mindful that next year is an election year.

It will be ironic if Roy Barnes who was swept FROM power by the teachers is restored TO power by the teachers due to Sonny Perdue’s war on public education.

quint

July 28th, 2009
12:21 pm

If the state cuts salaries by any percentage it will be hard to get that percentage back later

Ex Georgia Teacher

July 28th, 2009
12:21 pm

I know that Kathy Cox and Sonny Purdue must be extremely proud of their “accomplishments” in making education in Georgia even more of a joke than it was. The irony, of course, is that many teachers were so disgusted with Barnes that they voted for Purdue. Well, the cure here is certainly worse than the disease, isn’t it? As long as the people of this state continue to vote for these moron Republicans, they should not be surprised at the results. Kathy Cox could not even manage her personal household budget, so it should come as no surprise that she is incapable of managing something as important as education. But the point here is that education is not important, so Kathy Cox is actually probably the best face to show the world what education in Georgia means.

I would not be surprised to see a good bit of passive-aggressive behavior on the part of teachers this year, especially towards the Republican parents. We all agree that most teachers are not in a position simply to walk away, so they will continue to work for a system that completely devalues them and their contribution. When you are not in a position to do the little extras this year, please feel free to quote Ms. Cox: “It kinda stinks.”

The truth is that teachers matter more than these people on this blog who spend their time bashing them. If you teacher-bashers don’t do your job, so what? Many of you teacher-bashers are wasting your lives in completely meaningless, boring, wasteful jobs. Go back to your cubes, rats. No wonder you hate those who have meaning in their lives, given what you live through every day.

But teachers matter. Teachers matter in ways that you would never understand because teaching is a vocation, although the likes of Purdue and Cox are doing everything possible to make it just a job, no more meaningful or valuable than what a cube rat does.

Take heart teachers and start looking for new positions outside of Georgia. I know that this year will be hard, but you can rise above whatever the despicable Republicans throw at you.

Here’s a poem that may speak to you:

God Has Pity On Kindergarten Children

God has pity on kindergarten children,
He pities school children — less.
But adults he pities not at all.

He abandons them,
And sometimes they have to crawl on all fours
In the scorching sand
To reach the dressing station,
Streaming with blood.

But perhaps
He will have pity on those who love truly
And take care of them
And shade them
Like a tree over the sleeper on the public bench.

Perhaps even we will spend on them
Our last pennies of kindness
Inherited from mother,

So that their own happiness will protect us
Now and on other days.

Yehuda Amichai

My advice to you teachers is to do whatever you must to get through this year (remember, no extras for any Republican parents) and simply forget about Georgia and all the benighted, malevolent, bellicose moron Republicans that run this so-called state like a plantation. Run away from here. Leave. Breathe free and follow your precious vocation somewhere that has some light.

quint

July 28th, 2009
12:24 pm

Our school system will have the buildings closed and locked on the furlough days, effectively making sure that teachers can’t come to work. It is probably to make sure that we are not “encouraged” to come to work for free. It is probably a smart thing so that someone doesn’t decide to sue later on.

Cherokee Parent

July 28th, 2009
12:25 pm

Elaine– the Governor, in addition to furloughs, announced that each school district was to receive an ADDITIONAL 3 percent cut in QBE funding (on top of the cuts already applied AND the ongoing austerity cuts). This has been lost in all the furlough talk, but it amounts to another $4.8 million in Cherokee School District, on top of the furlough (which amounts to $2.2 million in state salary dollars). Cherokee is using reserves to cover some of that, and applying the local supplement savings to bridge the rest of the gap, plus extending the furlough to all employees who work 190 days or more (including Superintendent). They were very transparent about it at the School Board meeting last week, and it is all posted in a document on the school district web site.

Happy St. Pat's

July 28th, 2009
12:26 pm

Of course this means people are working for free. Performance standards remain unchanged, so the time investment will also remain unchanged. Maybe it would be better to just impose pay cuts. But then, people would realize that these cuts are permanent, not temporary, just like the “austerity cuts” which have this state permanently underfunding education statewide, in violation of the state constitution. If we de-porked the state budget and fired all the state-employed cousins, nephews and friends of friends who do nothing constructive, we wouldn’t have a state budget problem right now.

The Truth

July 28th, 2009
12:26 pm

Has anyone heard of Atlanta Public Schools’ decision regarding furloughs?

I’m against furloughs for the simple reason that it continues to send a message that education is of little importance to Georgia’s economy, Georgia’s quality of life, and to the future of Georgia itself. We can’t keep turning out graduates at the low end of the spectrum and expect things to get better.

frustrated teacher

July 28th, 2009
12:27 pm

3 day furlough (after tax cost to me) about $600. With holding payments to the county retirement savings (cost to me) about $3700. Lucky for them I went to school in Dekalb Co and can’t do the math myself. Where is all this extra savings going? To fund 2-3 county level administrators who sit around and do NOTHING!!!!! Seriously though, the Crawford Lewis administration borders on criminally negligent, they are so incompetent. Then I find out, they are planning on busing teachers all over the county next week during preplanning to attend a meeting to hear him speak about his vision or goals for the system. Is he going to sing “If your happy and you know it….” like Johnny Brown did a few years ago? Or is he going to threaten us with our jobs over test scores, like he does the principals at every meeting he has with them? Some how in all this, I seem to have lost track of what it is we are here for.

flipper

July 28th, 2009
12:33 pm

Federal law does not require that states test children in 1st and 2nd grade. How about if the state cuts CRCT testing for those kids? How much would that save? Plus, it is insane to have six-year-olds filling in bubble sheets.