Deal’s young hotshots: Erin Hames lands a key role

Erin Hames will now advise Gov.-elect Nathan Deal.

Erin Hames will now advise Gov.-elect Nathan Deal.

When the AJC met two weeks ago with the Department of Education leadership team about Race to the Top, Erin Hames led the discussion, which was interesting as incoming school chief John Barge was not keeping her at the agency.

Hames had joined DOE earlier this year to help oversee RTTT after serving as Gov. Sonny Perdue’s policy director.

At the meeting, current school chief Brad Bryant, who is staying at DOE as legal counsel, said he hoped DOE  could find a spot for Hames because of her critical role in crafting and winning Georgia’s $400 million RTTT grant.

For the record, I thought it was crazy to let Hames go as she is the state’s authority on RTTT, and it seemed counterproductive and costly to send all that background and knowledge out the door. She also knows all the players in Washington, which is important as this four-year grant will require ongoing contact with the U.S. DOE and Arne Duncan.

But Hames, a teacher-turned-attorney, has landed an even better spot. My AJC colleague James Salzer is reporting that Hames is becoming a deputy chief of staff for policy for Gov.-elect Nathan Deal. I would assume that she will be the governor’s eyes and ears on RTTT.

I like that Deal is surrounding himself with hardworking, young, bright people, including my former AJC colleague Brian Robinson, who was also named a top deputy. (By the way, as much as I admire Hames and Robinson for their smarts and their hard work this year, I’ve annoyed both of them with my reporting and expect that will continue.)

I still think that their boss has a vague and spotty plan for school reform. And again, while I respect Nathan Deal for being upfront about the deeper cuts coming to schools, Georgia will only fall further behind if we don’t recognize that education is not a luxury but a necessity if the state hopes to thrive in this new information era.

–By Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

96 comments Add your comment

d

December 26th, 2010
11:22 am

Isn’t the governor-elect going to swear to uphold both the federal and state constitutions when he takes the oath of office next month? Doesn’t our state constitution say that k-12 education is a priority of the state? Wouldn’t it make sense that should be dealt with first before anything else and then write the rest of the budget?

EnoughAlready

December 26th, 2010
11:25 am

One question – Did Hames and Robinson attend public school?

Maureen Downey

December 26th, 2010
11:35 am

@Enough, Both are Georgians. I know Brian Robinson is a UGA grad, but I don’t know whether he attended public or private k-12. Erin Hames also attended UGA, graduating from the college of education. She taught at Wakefield Middle School in Raleigh for three years where she was named “First Year Teacher of the Year” and served on the School Improvement Team. She then went to law school at Georgia State.
Maureen

schlmarm

December 26th, 2010
11:41 am

Not impressed. 3 years of classroom experience, sigh….just what we need, another “hot shot.”

RBN

December 26th, 2010
11:48 am

Sonny’s child advisors were a disaster for education during his eight years. Sadly, Deal continues down that path. Not suprising as education was an afterthought in his campaign. A lawsuit on funding may be our only hope. Constitution seems to be only a convenience for rhetoric.

Maureen Downey

December 26th, 2010
11:53 am

@RBN, I am running an op-ed on tomorrow’s education page about the school funding lawsuit in Florida. I will post it later today. Not sure if those lawsuits make much difference even when the systems win.
Maureen

EnoughAlready

December 26th, 2010
12:22 pm

Okay, I’m now concerned that someone with 3 years classroom experience, plus a few months as an RTTT advisor is now going to be the deputy chief of staff to the govenor(possibly advising him about education).

I’ve never considered myself a mean spirited person, but it sure does make me wonder who she’s sleeping with. There are so many more people with ten times the experience and success rates.

How much are you all willing to bet that vouchers will be the “hot” shot topic for the next 4 years? The next topic will be more cuts and private charter schools.

Maureen Downey

December 26th, 2010
12:33 pm

@ Enough@, I am pretty sure that Erin is not sleeping with anyone beside her husband. She is a very impressive young woman. I think the fact that Georgia was one of 12 winners of RTTT speaks to her intelligence as she guided the process. I also think that we have to get out of the mindset that it takes decades of classroom experience to come up with good ideas in education.
The two young men who started the KIPP schools were not white-haired teachers, but young Teach for America alums. (And the founder of Teach for America was a college student.)
Some of the top ranked doctors in Georgia are under 40. Consider how young Michael Dell and Bill Gates were when they founded their empires.
I think experience counts for something. But I also think that intellect counts as well.
Maureen

catlady

December 26th, 2010
12:38 pm

EnoughAlready: Shame on you! Shame on me, too! I hope Deal will get a first year resident to advise him on medical policy, and a paralegal to be in charge of legal matters! Then we could get a fry cook from McDonalds to do the food safety policy, and a 4H member to be in charge of the Department of Agriculture! And think how much money we would save!

To get “street cred” you have to be on the street for more than 3 years.

catlady

December 26th, 2010
12:41 pm

Ms. Downey@12:33: So age and intellect are mutually exclusive?! My response time may have slowed, but my IQ is still up there. I would guess that is true about many highly experienced educators.

More Republican Garbage

December 26th, 2010
12:45 pm

Republicans don’t want our children to receive quality education because then they would be smart enough and wise enough to see what the Republicans have done to education in this State. As for the vouchers – guess who will get them – kids of the rich; kids of the friends of the Republicans who caused this mess to begin with; it sure won’t be the kids of the average person. Believe all the BS the Republicans put out but rest assured this is what will happen. As Johnny Isaksson commented a few months ago – the unwashed is what he called us – will continue to be the unwashed in the eyes of these thugs and liars.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Cathleen Mackay. Cathleen Mackay said: Deal's young hotshots: Erin Hames lands a key role: At the meeting, current school chief Brad Bryant, who is sta… http://bit.ly/fqdAEX [...]

Mikey D

December 26th, 2010
12:58 pm

Georgia was one of the race to the bottom winners because the democratic administration needed to throw a carrot to a republican state, and sonny the stooge fit the bill. It had much less to do with the “quality” of the application which was openly developed without the input of teachers in this state. But hey, we’ve got a smart cookie with three whole years’ experience in the classroom and a governor-elect who can’t keep his own personal finances in order. What could go wrong?

Maureen Downey

December 26th, 2010
1:11 pm

@Mikey, Not sure about your theory as the first state to win in Round 1 was Tennessee, which I would call a GOP state.
Maureen

More Republican Garbage

December 26th, 2010
1:39 pm

Have to agree with Mikey here – the only reason Georgia got it was because somebody wanted to throw them a carrot. Georgia has been going downhill in education ever since Sonny took over and it sure isn’t going to get any better under Deal. Like I said – Repubs don’t want our kids educated because then they would see them for what they are – the party that doesn’t care one iota about the little guy(s). Believe what these slobs put out and you are no better than them. The losers are our kids and teachers.

oldtimer

December 26th, 2010
1:41 pm

Maureen, I agree with you about age. I worked with new teachers in the alternative training program. I saw young and middle age teachers who were outstanding, creative, and a definite asset to the state of GA. They were a joy to watch. They were just natural. I would have put my own children in these young, inexperienced teacher’s classes…if they were still school age. I do agree it is time to try new things. I do support school choice, maybe even vouchers….We need to try something new.

TopPublicSchool

December 26th, 2010
1:41 pm

Rose Colored Glasses???

Honestly, I believe in giving her a chance…but, I would think 3 years is hardly enough experience to see the problem issues in education and have a tough enough base to know what is really going on.

AWARDS…I am not all that impressed with AWARDS..
I don’t judge a book by its cover…a family by their house, a man/woman by his/her gender.

I will need to hear her words…and see her vision for our public schools. As with anyone young …she will need a seasoned mentor…not jaded…but seasoned… This assistance will help her to see through the BUCKHEAD… locked jaw… SMILE of manipulation.

Hide and Watch…
http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

oldtimer

December 26th, 2010
1:47 pm

At the time of awarding RTTT TN had a democratic governor and a republican house..by one vote. The two senators are republican. Most local governments are democratic… the state is pretty split. The schools in the county in which I live are pretty good..some better than others. I like the smaller K-8 schools. The students transition to high school very successfully.

teacher&mom

December 26th, 2010
2:00 pm

I hope Ms. Hames doesn’t insulate herself within the walls of the Gold dome. I’m sure she is intelligent, savvy, and ambitious. No doubt. BUT she does have limited classroom experience. The classroom of 2011 is very different from the classroom 5, 10, 15 years ago. I’m not saying she wasn’t a capable teacher, I am saying that her short time in the classroom will always be considered a negative among teachers.

Unless….

She makes an effort to meet with teachers across the state and outside the RttT districts. If she wants to improve education in GA, she needs to listen and work cooperatively with those in the classrooms. Unfortunately the manner in which Perdue and others chose to follow during the RttT application process, wasn’t exactly transparent or open. Remember the infamous “teacher survey”????

Yes, a teacher can be effective in their first years of teaching. Just like a parent does a fairly decent job with their firstborn. However, how many of us can say that we “knew it all” when we brought that first baby home from the hospital? How many of us are better parents because of experience and maturity? The classroom is no different.

TopPublicSchool

December 26th, 2010
2:06 pm

AWARDS… Let’s don’t talk about AWARDS in Georgia Public Schools.
Atlanta Public Schools has made a mockery out of every teacher evaluation and child’s test score in their corrupt system.

What is valid and what is not? Bonus Pay…Pay for Performance…

Scores, titles AWARDS? … Professional Standards…
I think everything in Georgia’s Education System is a mess.

But, since I do have a couple of awards from North Carolina…Teacher of the Year, Student State President of North Carolina National Education Association…and a degree in Gifted Education.
all awarded under my teaching career in North Carolina…I will pat myself on the back a little.

Personally, I would not value any award given in the state of Georgia. My experiences in Atlanta’s TOP Public School in no way compare to my North Carolina experiences.

“SOILED HANDS” in the MONEY- No Consensus
http://www.youtube.com/user/TopSchoolAtlanta#p/u/24/dDSFPmcD3Tk

TopPublicSchool

December 26th, 2010
2:11 pm

Respect takes time to earn. It is not given automatically with awards and titles.Like a test score…Awards can be used as an indicator of what a person might be capable of doing with their title.

teacher&mom

December 26th, 2010
2:12 pm

While I do not know Mrs. Hames personally, I find it interesting that she—along with others like Michelle Rhee, TFA teachers, etc. are so admired for their precious few years in the classroom. Instead of admiration for those who stick with the classroom, we have greater admiration for those who leave the classroom for greener pastures (mainly money and position). It is an odd American trait that no one will really admit to.

Kinda like how we admire the folks who take a short “holiday” mission trip to a third world country but thumb our noses at the missionary who actually lives there 24/7. We’re so appreciative of those who “give a little bit of their time” but somehow secretly believe those who offer true dedication are somewhat…..lacking.

Young teacher

December 26th, 2010
2:31 pm

Teacher and mom @ 2:12: These educators aren’t so admired for their few years in the classroom. They’re admired for their accomplishments. I am a 28-year-old teacher and get tired of the older teachers telling me how awful the profession is and how much better it used to be. If teaching is so terrible, quit. I have a lot of friends from UGA looking for jobs right now.

teacher&mom

December 26th, 2010
3:04 pm

@Young teacher…I understand about getting tired of listening to teachers complain. I really do understand. That’s why I eat lunch in my classroom most days :)

Teaching has changed and those of us who’ve been in the classroom pre-NCLB and post-NCLB are very much aware of how much things have changed….and not necessarily for the better.

Your statement reminds me so much of myself at that age. Actually it was around that age when I threw my hands up in the air and quit the profession for a few years. I worked in a post-secondary setting for a year or so. I’ll never forget the difference in how people treated me during my stint at the post-secondary institution. It was like I had suddenly gained stature and importance. I remember going to a Christmas party with my husband and how people reacted when I said I as an instructor at XYZ. It was an amazing difference. Same person, same credentials, same income level, etc. The only difference….I was no longer a public school teacher.

I love what I do each and every day. I get tired, I get frustrated, but most days it is a job I still enjoy.

Mikey D

December 26th, 2010
3:05 pm

@Young teacher:
What accomplishments has Ms. Hames achieved that she’s admired for?

More Republican Garbage

December 26th, 2010
3:08 pm

Young teacher – you sound like you might be part of the problem instead of part of the solution. You sound like you think you know everything and the ones who have been there for years know nothing. I too remember when things were much better simply because my kids were learning and being taught and the NCLB and other garbage wasn’t even thought of.

New teacher

December 26th, 2010
3:49 pm

@ More: Young teacher doesn’t seem like a know-it-all. S/he seems to be a young teacher who is tired of hearing about all the problems of education and not hearing about possible solutions.

I think that as we age, we get wiser and this wisdom is greatly needed in education. My problem is when being a whiny know-it-all is mistaken (ironically) for being wise and experienced.

Dr. Craig Spinks /Augusta

December 26th, 2010
3:51 pm

Best wishes to both Ms. Hames and Mr. Bryant! Hopefully, they’ll use their legal prowess to, among other things, restore the GA schoolhouse as a place of respect, order and learning. After all, how many believe that our state can afford a large, undereducated “underclass?”

More Republican Garbage

December 26th, 2010
3:54 pm

Then Young teacher needs to come up with some solutions rather than complain about the ones who have been in the field for awhile. She might be tired of hearing about all the problems of education but I’m tired of all the problems that have been created because we have leaders at the top who have NO respect for education. And I do not find it being whiny and a know-it-all just because their experience has seen the toll taken on education in this State and letting it be known. I have been active in the schools in the metro area for more years than she/he is old and have seen and am seeing first hand the destruction of education in Georgia.

Karma

December 26th, 2010
4:08 pm

Who cares? They’re all milking it for the money anyway. This woman is going to get nothing done, just like everyone before her. Hopefully that will be all. We don’t need another Kathy Cox.

schlmarm

December 26th, 2010
5:36 pm

With all due respect, Young Teacher needs to understand that if we “older teachers” give the impression of being negative, it’s because we remember when “teaching” was a whole different concept, when we knew what worked, and we stuck with it. The more junk that’s been added on during the years, NCLB, standardized testing, data, data, data,etc. has only made things worse. Interesting, how armed with only a curriculum guide and a notebook to record grades, we turned out students who became productive citizens either as college prepared or trade prepared.

Joe

December 26th, 2010
6:02 pm

Maureen…..you are obviously biased when it comes to Erin Hames and Brian Robinson – mot good for a reporter. As for Erin Hames, I think it speaks VOLUMES that co-workers in the Department of Education and school systems around the state absolutely detest this woman. I have seen her in action….she has the charm and personality of a rattlesnake – not a good quality for someone who is supposed to be a leader and get people to follow.

teacher

December 26th, 2010
6:30 pm

Wonder if thise was the smartest move for Deal. Public Ed (k – 12) takes about 43% of the state’s budget. Why would he hire this yourng third year teacher, who may have a bone to pick with Dr. Barge , when she recommends new policy (he fired her)? Just not the smartest or astute political move. But never could say Nathan really impressed me as the sharpest tool in the woodshed.

bootney farnsworth

December 26th, 2010
6:40 pm

until the state addresses the serious issues of bloated administrations with no real teaching experience, and takes a realistic view on budgets – it doesn’t matter who is installed.

catlady

December 26th, 2010
6:40 pm

I guess we should have expected this. : (

bootney farnsworth

December 26th, 2010
6:44 pm

education takes 43% of the state budget because the money is poorly managed, and because far too much is placed on the dollars spent, not the return for investment

bootney farnsworth

December 26th, 2010
6:45 pm

@ catlady

expected what?
a politician would appoint a sycophant?

Joe

December 26th, 2010
6:46 pm

I am amazed at Maureen’s comments on how important Hames is to the Race to the Top effort. What a joke! If you have never seen the application, take a look! This was the Obama administration looking to spend. They are sending millions to Georgia so we can grow our education administration. I doubt we will see much achievement from this effort – Sonny’s legacy. I would be impressed if we could just Race to catch the Back of the Pack! That is where we find the state when it comes to education.

bootney farnsworth

December 26th, 2010
6:48 pm

easy fix to the cost of education #1.
stop making it manditory.

if a kid doesn’t want to be in school, stop inflicting it
on him, and him of the school.

bootney farnsworth

December 26th, 2010
6:52 pm

easy fix to the cost of education #2.
stop with all the testing already.

when my kid was in middle school, nearly 1/2 of her year was
spent preping for or taking stupid things like CRCT.

if we only intend to spend 1/2 the year on actually teaching kids,
lets drop those silly assed tests and shorten the year

d

December 26th, 2010
7:13 pm

@Maureen Question about the RTTT scores for round 2 – have we seen the rubrics for this one? I remember we were supposed to lose points when the teachers’ union *or professional association* did not sign off on the application, but I don’t remembering that happening with Round I. I do know that the Tennessee Education Association and the Delaware State Education Association did sign off on the applications for those states. I remember seeing in our application a phrase that since Georgia is Right to Work, they felt that GAE’s buy in was unnecessary, but it didn’t say just union, it did say union or professional organization. How did we get buy without that signature?

Maureen Downey

December 26th, 2010
7:18 pm

@D, Because Georgia had the buy-in of 26 counties that collectively represented more than 40 percent of the state’s students. Duncan said that a lack of complete buy-in would not doom Georgia, and it turned out he was right.
Maureen

d

December 26th, 2010
7:21 pm

@Maureen so in other words, they went against their own rubrics that said 10% of the points had to have the buy in of all stake holders?

Maureen Downey

December 26th, 2010
7:41 pm

d, I think they defined the stakeholders as those participating counties, not the entire state.
Maureen

Mikey D

December 26th, 2010
9:00 pm

Stakeholders, as in the superintendents of 26 systems. Not what I’d call “all” stakeholders.

Dekalbite

December 26th, 2010
9:35 pm

I think that 10 years in a regular education classroom is about right for a job like this. That’s about the average length of service (mean) and probably the median as well. 32 or 33 is still young, but you’ve been tempered like steel at this point.

Charter Schools are PUBLIC Schools

December 26th, 2010
10:24 pm

@EnoughAlready at 12:22 PM
You stated that “[t]he next topic will be more cuts and private charter schools.”

There is no such thing as a “private charter school”, all charter schools are public.

Here’s a link to the Georgia DOE FAQ about charter schools as it sounds like that might be helpful to you:
http://public.doe.k12.ga.us/pea_charter.aspx?PageReq=CIIAPCharterFAQS

Dome Watcher

December 26th, 2010
11:17 pm

Hames is a sham. She claims to have written the RTTT application but it was really done by Kathleem Mathers at OSA. Other than you Maureen, Sonny and now apparently Deal, no one she works with likes or respects her. Check with a few legislators and you’ll find she’s arrogant and loves to order people around. I guess now she’ll get Deal to hire her husband as a speech writer just like he was for Sonny.

Joe

December 26th, 2010
11:17 pm

Hey! The whole race to the top effort had one goal…..satisfy Alavin Wilbanks and give him the coverage to run his (the state largest) school system any way he wants. He wants no state rules or teacher salary schedule to stand in his way. He thinks Dean Alford IE3 work is a pile of crap except that it lets Gwinnettplay by its own rules. So no….the rest of the state be damned….they will not learn much from this RTTT sham. This is all about Alvin and Gwinnett. All other systems, get ready to bend over and grab your ankles. A Nathan Deal administered spanking is on the way!

Joe

December 26th, 2010
11:24 pm

Hey Maureen! At least Erin Hames interned for and tutored under that public education savior Jennifer Rippner! Must have been a lot of knowlege transfer going on there. And wait, Ben Scafidi transferred reta knowledge ti Rippner like the 65% rule, offering teachers insurance to make PAGE and GAE go away. and serving as an expert in the adequacy lawsuit to show how the state spends far too much on our children. In concert with Dean Alford, Ben says we spend enough to provide an excellence education – not just world class but galactically acceptable. These idiots must have orginanted in another galaxy.