Cobb parents, students and teachers appealed to the board of education last night for a reconsideration of the many cuts to staff and programs. Here is the statement of David Platt, one of the Wheeler High science and magnet teachers whose termination has inspired students letters and protests. Platt, who has a University of Michigan master’s degree in science and engineering, aerospace engineering, taught Post AP Aerospace and Robotics. (He is also on of the creators of a parody Georgia High School Graduation Test that I posted in March.)
Platt can speak for himself as his statement indicates, but I still can’t believe that in view of all the rhetoric in this state about the need to bolster STEM – science, technology, engineering and math — education that any county, least of all Cobb, is shedding magnet science teachers. I can’t count how many times I have heard state leaders say the future belongs to the STEM graduates and that Georgia has to produce more science and math expertise to complete.
Can someone explain this insanity to me?
Here is his statement:
Ten years ago I became a teacher. Not because I had to, certainly not for the money, not for the hours, not for the respect and not for the glory. I became a teacher because it is who I am. Two years ago, you, the Cobb County School District, hired me to educate your children. You trusted me to advocate for your most precious resource. You asked me to run a robotics team for no pay, you asked me to develop new curriculums for nothing, other than the fact it is who I am.
I did all of that gladly and passionately, and more. One year ago, almost to the day, I stood in this exact spot, before all of you and asked you to please find alternate sources of revenue and other ways to fix the budget problems without putting the onus on the backs of the teachers.
Four months ago, I wrote to all of you and asked once again could you find a way to raise revenue and make strategic cuts so that it was not ultimately the students who would be asked to pay for the solution. You asked me for suggestions, so I spent countless hours of my limited free time researching possible solutions and meeting with others to come up with intelligent ideas that could be implemented, and I sent those along to all of you, as well as representatives at the state level.
Two months ago, I stood before you in the Campbell High School Auditorium, and asked you to please consider those suggestions, and to not compromise the level of education in this county.
Today, I stand before you once again, and this time, for the first time in 10 years, I cannot call myself a teacher. I am not a position, I am a person, and I am unemployed, simply because despite all that I have done and been able to accomplish with my peers and students these past two years, I was deemed part of the problem, and not part of the solution.
Simply because since I have not worked in Cobb County long enough, I am a victim of a so called “Performance Based” reduction in force, not because of my performance, but in spite of it, because I did all that you asked me to do, and more.
Today, my students are in tears, my peers stunned and my corporate and university partners aghast. Tomorrow I will find a job. I will teach somewhere, for it is who I am. Tomorrow my students will continue their summer break and heal their wounds.
Tomorrow though, the budget problem will be as bad as it is right now. Tomorrow the stimulus money will disappear. Tomorrow the teachers will no longer tolerate furlough days. Tomorrow, the Cobb County property appraiser is going to reduce the assessed values of homes throughout the county.
Tomorrow, the budget for next year will already be looking at a $75 million deficit, before we even finish carving up this year. There are better solutions than butchering the work force and annihilating the curriculum. The ideas are out there. I have shared mine with you, and on the over 1,700 pages of feedback from the online survey, there are countless other well thought out, intelligent, implementable ideas. There is plenty of blame to go around, but now is not the time for that. Now is the time for solutions.
Today you have a chance to do something. You have an opportunity to listen to your constituents crying out to stop the bleeding. You have a chance to put aside ideological differences and do what is right for the students and community of Cobb County. The problem is fixable. It may not be easy, and it may not be in your best interests politically, but it can be done right, and it needs to start now.
Thirteen days ago, my students at Wheeler High School reminded me why I teach, and of who I am, and of how proud I am to call myself a teacher. They stood 500 strong, and simply asked that they be heard, that they have a voice in their own education, that they be given the right to the highest level of education that they deserve, and to not suffer for a problem that they had no hand in creating.
Today, if you do not listen to me, please listen to them.
Thank you for your time.