Kathy Cox serves up a clarification. Get it while it’s hot.

School Superintendent Kathy Cox felt compelled today to issue a clarification to one of her deputy’s comments yesterday at a budget hearing that Georgia might have have to reduce its school year, now set by law at 180 days.

I am not exactly sure what the superintendent is saying here, but having worked my way through high school, college and grad school as a waitress in many fine establishments, I can testify that you have to get in early and stay late. I can also say that there is no better moment in life than when you have escorted all your IHOP customers out the door, locked it behind them and sat down to a customized chocolatee chip pancake with extra chocolate chips and whip cream. To be 18 again.

I understand and agree that  teachers need time before school begins and after it ends, but I am not sure how strongly, if at all, Cox  is calling for tweaks to the 180-days in view of the budget crisis. Read it and let us know what you think.

Here is the superintendent’s statement, which will explain my pancake nostalgia:

Superintendent Cox issued the following statement today:

“I believe there is a need for clarification about the Department of Education’s position regarding the state budget. I maintain that drastic and severe cuts hurt teachers and students and negatively impact the progress we have made in recent years. If there are further cuts to QBE (school system funding) then we can’t expect things to be business as usual. While we fully recognize the severity of our revenue shortfall, we are not in favor of additional cuts to public K-12 education.

It is unrealistic to think that you can truly retain 180 days of quality instruction for students if all ten days of pre- and post-planning for teachers are cut. Expecting teachers to begin and end a school year on the same day students do is like a restaurant manager asking staff members to show up at the same time the first customer is to be served. That manager knows that if dinner service starts at 5:00 you better be willing to pay your chef to come in for preparation a few hours earlier. And when have you ever seen the staff leave the restaurant at the same time as the last customer? That restaurant would not be successful. Similarly, teachers need preparation time to be successful.

I appreciate the diligence of the legislators and the seriousness of their exploration of all the issues and all the options. We will continue to work with them to find the best solution for our state.”

35 comments Add your comment

Cathy Kox is full of....

February 24th, 2010
3:24 pm

This woman is incompetent on both personal (finance) and vocational (APS test scores) levels. Why should anyone trust a word from her?
How are we to have confidence in her and her minions to adequately design a “teacher teach the test” bonus system, manage the pay system, and secure adequate funding for the plan. Not happening in our life span.

All you teachers better sharpen up on you erasure skills.

john

February 24th, 2010
3:25 pm

Joy in Teaching

February 24th, 2010
3:33 pm

@ Maureen I worked in an IHOP in college and did the graveyard shift. I was the lucky one that encounterd drunk frat boys after the bars closed in Athens. We never closed. Never ever. You were lucky.

I hate to admit it, but Kathy Cox’s statement makes a lot of sense to me. There are a great many things that a teacher must do to prepare for that first day of school when we get our new students. I wish I still had my “To-Do” list from this year so that I could share it with you, but it was pretty busy. I spent about 15 hours at school during my one day of pre planning this year and still felt unprepared when the kidlets came in.

I have 3 completely different class preparations so I had to have plans in place so that there could be a jumping off place for my classes. (At least 2 weeks worth of lessons.) I had to make sure that I had a syllabus for each class (plus copies) and first day materials prepared and copied. Then, there is the preparing of the room, begging the registrar to PLEASE let us have rolls, make out seating charts, cleaning and organizing, and putting up the bulletin and oh so wonderful word wall. There was also the 3 and a half hour butt numbing faculty meeting. That wasn’t productive whatsoever after the first 30 minutes, but it was still a requirement to attend. I had to sweet talk the media specialist for technology items, go through the pittances of new inventory that I had received over the summer. And those were just the highlights. I won’t tell you about my encounter with the 4 foot snake skin in my supply closet.

The thing is, those were just the necessities. I’d hate to think of how totally awful it would be to show up that first day with kids that I do not know and say “We is here! Let’s get the show on the road!” Could you imagine the chaos? I couldn’t even imagine what I’d do with kids on that kind of day or even for days after that as I’d be floundering like a fish gasping for air as the disorganization would be just totally insane. Moreover, the kids would get the idea right off that disorganization is how we roll around here…and that wouldn’t make me much of a roll model, would it?

DeKalb Conservative

February 24th, 2010
3:53 pm

Keeping to the waitress angle, waitresses are typically paid a low (below minimum wage) rate per hour, and the rest of the day is made on hourly + tips. However, when a company meeting is held and required, the waitress typically can only get the hourly rate and therefore has no tips to make a decent income.

In a way, isn’t that what we are talking about here. How to comp teachers for out of classroom, mandidtory time? The Central Falls, RI example here was interesting with the school system offering to pay $30 an hour, only to have the union reject it and counter at $90 / hour.

Sick&Tired

February 24th, 2010
4:10 pm

Well the restaurant manager would not bring in the whole staff just to prepare for the day. They usually bring in the prep crew (1 to 3 people, might include manager).

Former Waitress, Current Teacher

February 24th, 2010
4:20 pm

@Sick & Tired – when I waited tables, the cooks were there prepping a couple hours before dinner started, and wait staff got there and hour before we were scheduled to be on the floor. Of course, this was a four star restaurant. I’m guessing we don’t care about 4 star education here in Georgia.

Former Waitress, Current Teacher

February 24th, 2010
4:20 pm

correction “an hour”

You Know Who

February 24th, 2010
4:21 pm

Hey sick and tired, each teacher is the prep crew for their classroom, as they are also the only ones working in them. DUH!

jj

February 24th, 2010
4:52 pm

You can easily cut some of the 5 days prior and post school year. Most teachers are dragged into meetings having little or no bearing on actual teaching. Let them get into the class room and prepare for students and I think many teachers would accept the cuts.

What a Joke

February 24th, 2010
5:33 pm

I agree with you, jj – What pre-planning? All we do on those days is listen to the same old crap-ola from the boss and his buddies and then we get to do “team activities” so we can “brainstorm” either “horizontally” or “vertically” and make sure we discuss how to better use CMCD, SFA, B2B, GOAS, AR, and other B.S.
It’s like someone sits around and thinks of the biggest time wasters available.

What a Joke

February 24th, 2010
5:33 pm

Filter is sucking up my posts….

ScienceTeacher671

February 24th, 2010
5:41 pm

Who gets 5 days preplanning and 5 days postplanning? We get 3 days for each (at least one of which is spent in meetings). Also, we’re on block schedule, which means we teach the equivalent of 2 years during each school year (one per semester), so we get 2 days in between semesters, at least one of which is spent in meetings and/or “staff development.” Two more days of staff development and/or meetings fitted into the school year, and there you have it…

retired

February 24th, 2010
5:44 pm

After leaving GA, I taught in a neighboring state for two years. I, too, had three preps. In this county (small, rural) we had one “In-service” day. We sat at the county meeting place all day listening to speakers.
The next day was ours…no official day(Friday). On Monday the kids came for two hours. Anything done in the room was on your own time. When school was out we again had a two hour day, gave report cards to homeroom (those who came) and then at 10 everyone went home. After years in GA with planning time, I missed it. Teachers did much getting ready and cleaning up using kids in the room. Of course the good ones used their own time.

Tony

February 24th, 2010
5:46 pm

Planning days are vital to the success of a school. If days must be cut they should be student days not planning days. For you principals out there who use up the workdays with long, drawn out meetings and mindless workshops, stop it. Teachers need time to plan together, develop units of instruction, review assessment information of students, and be prepared for the first day of school. To the ones who think we just get together to party – wrong!

just a thought

February 24th, 2010
5:55 pm

There is a possibility that the legislature will decide that merit pay is the way to go. If that were to happen teachers would no longer get a raise for advanced degrees. If they “furloughed” all 10 days that teachers have for pre/post planning and staff development (or professional learning) when would teachers ever learn anything new?

I know we are required to get 10 PLU’s in order to recertify, but I can get those easily through meetings, etc. at my school. There is no incentive at all for teachers to learn anything new! Is that what we want? A state full of teachers who are stagnant?

Not to mention how tiring it is to be expected to do the same thing with less time to prepare and less materials – and for less compensation.

Hey, it's Enrico Pallazzo!

February 24th, 2010
6:03 pm

The first day of school for teachers should be a 1 to 2 hr school-wide goals and expectations meeting. Parents of all students in that school should be vigorously encouraged to attend. Then break them up to departments for a 1 hour meeting. Again, parents should be very encouraged to attend. After that, leave the teachers alone to prepare for the school year. If administrators cannot elucidate their goals and objectives for the school year in that amount of time they should be re-assigned. There is so much micromanaging of teachers that they are hamstrung as to what to do.

Put resources in the classroom. An administrator is there to administer not to teach. If we want to improve our students then the classroom is where the money needs to go.

catlady

February 24th, 2010
6:12 pm

I have 7 preps per day, Joy, and a 20 minute lunch plus 35 minutes of planning. This year we “only” had 8 hours of meetings plus a “mandatory” breakfast. We ARE allowed to spend 15 minutes showing the 3rd graders around on the first day, and everyone gets 15 minutes of “rule reading” before immediately launching into direct instruction. We are still going strong (including 2 hrs and 40 minutes of reading only) even on the last day. We are not allowed to just let students read–a waste of time when we could be didactically instructing!

I maintain that until more than teachers are impacted by furlough days, the legislature and administrators will continue to cut teacher prep time, but expect the same amount of work done.

We were reminded that the schools would be open on furlough days if we wanted to work. But I heard that some systems did not unlock the buildings, due to liability issues.

Hey, it's Enrico Pallazzo!

February 24th, 2010
6:35 pm

Why don’t we have a state law that requires 75% of educational dollars be spent at the classroom level? Simple. Straight forward. Direct.

Maureen Downey

February 24th, 2010
6:58 pm

Hey, As the poster noted, we have a 65 percent law in Georgia. Maureen

Hey, it's Enrico Pallazzo!

February 24th, 2010
7:15 pm

Maureen,
Let’s up it to 75% or 80%. It is more.

Hey, it's Enrico Pallazzo!

February 24th, 2010
7:17 pm

Even with the new math.

spalding teacher

February 24th, 2010
7:43 pm

Catlady – Our building was locked up tight on the furlough days. They wanted to save as much money as possible. No electricity, etc.

Dan

February 24th, 2010
8:04 pm

Cox is essentially daring the legislature to make the cuts they are threatening. She is making real for them the consequences of their reckless and irresponsible actions. I’m not a fan, but she is standing up for kids.

It Amazes Me

February 24th, 2010
8:43 pm

What a backward state Georgia is toward education. That’s the Go Fish mentality we have been stuck with for 8 years.

What a Tangled Web We Weave

February 24th, 2010
9:04 pm

This is a mess – it’s a mess due to the economy, but it’s also a mess due to fiscal mismanagement and a ridiculously stubborn adherence to partisan nonsense. I agree with posters who say that the next round of furloughs need to come from academic days – not because I want any kind of time off, but because I truly, truly believe that until it impacts the voters at home (and I’m not talking about the “free babysitter” crowd, although they’re included), the lawmakers aren’t going to get the message that people are unhappy. Now, they’re hearing from teachers – a crowd largely discounted on a good day. Get the rest of the constituents involved, and something might actually be done.

As far as me personally, I always got my room ready on my own time, because my time was largely spent in meetings during the 5 days of pre-planning. We’d have a few hours here and there, but I’m the kind of person who only gets in a flow with chunks of uninterrupted time. I’d maybe be ok with fewer days of pre-planning if we were left alone to get our rooms and plans ready. I can tell you right now that there are teachers who, if no planning existed, wouldn’t walk into a classroom until the first day of school. Is that the kind of room you want YOUR child in? People already think the first and last weeks of school of a waste – this will only exacerbate that.

As for funding – why oh why can’t we legalize gambling – paramutuel, slots, etc? Why oh why can’t we sell alcohol on Sundays? Why oh why can’t raise the cigarette tax? And indeed, why not legalize pot? In addition to taxes raised from it, we could save some on law enforcement. Why not charge a “thanks for passing through” toll on I95 or a 1% raise on restaurant and lodging taxes? No one likes taxes, but no one is going to like how severely services (all services, not just education) is going to need to be cut in the future.

what's right for kids?

February 24th, 2010
9:28 pm

WORST ANALOGY EVER! I am NOT a waitress; I am a teacher!

Elizabeth

February 25th, 2010
7:57 am

If they take all your ppreparation time away, then you are esentially giving them your time because you must prepare. Since you are not allowed to sit at your computer dueing the time yo have students, if you leave when the kids do, when do grades get entered in the system? When do projects too bulky to take home get graded? As long as parents are not incomvenienced, no one willcare how many days we lose to furloughs.

As for the buildings being open on furlough days, ours were– but I did not come in,. I may CHOOSE to work on my own time, but I also CHOOSE not to work on a day when i know I am receiving no money. Furthermore, If the day is a furlough day and you are injured at school, you are not eligible for Workman’s Comp.

If they want me to be ready for kids, then do’nt cut my Preparation days. Because I willnot be ready for kids and they will do busy work while I do the prep needed to teach.

oh, c'mon

February 25th, 2010
11:50 am

An analogy is used to make things easier for the audience to understand. I think the restaurant analogy is probably at the appropriate level of complexity for our legislatures.

teacher/parent

February 25th, 2010
12:06 pm

Elizabeth-I’m with you. When I signed on to teach, I knew that I would work beyond 8:30 to 3:30. I have always done so and never expected otherwise. Now, I will get more students and fewer days of instruction AND be exptected to produce the same results. I choose not work harder (for less money) to try to perform a miracle.

Elizabeth

February 25th, 2010
1:05 pm

Teacher-parent: I agree and I will not.

Free Bird

February 25th, 2010
4:23 pm

Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t teaching the least paid profession that requires a 4 year degree? I have a friend who cuts hair that makes more than I do. Not saying that doing hair isn’t important, but shaping the minds of our future leaders sounds like it has more substance. Just a thought.

Maureen Downey

February 25th, 2010
4:34 pm

Free Bird, No, I think the profession could be journalism.
Maureen

Free Bird

February 25th, 2010
9:06 pm

I guess what I wanted to say was that people don’t become teachers for the pay because it is no secret that teachers get paid next to nothing. But without teachers, who would teach anyone. I just sometimes wonder if the powers that be have thought about what outcome they are producing with the pay cuts, lengthed days, larger class sizes, higher standards, and dismal support that teachers today face. Many people have commented about how, as teachers, they don’t feel valued or supported. What kind of environment are we creating for our children? I don’t know what the solution is to the economic downturn, but I know that the solution for better educating our kids is not by giving teachers less and expecting them to perform more. Just my thoughts.

Virginia

February 26th, 2010
8:21 am

No matter how many pre- and post-planning days we have, my room is going to be ready before the beginning of pre-planning, and I won’t turn out the lights until at least a day after post-planning–this is both by choice and, at times, by necessity. My real gripe here is that my kids no longer order the chocolate chip pancake, so I no longer get my bite. :(

Jeff

February 26th, 2010
4:38 pm

The woman is a moron, but, the problem here is that she’s right. Teachers need time to prepare *before* students show up. Anybody who thinks otherwise knows not a damn thing about teaching.