Gov. Deal: Restore pre-k days to stem exodus of teachers

 Under a recommendation from the governor, Georgia may restore half of the days cut from pre-k this year. (AJC file)

Under a recommendation from the governor, Georgia may restore half of the days cut from pre-k this year. (AJC file)

This is one of the most sensible suggestions I’ve heard in a long time from state government: Gov. Nathan Deal wants to restore some of the days cut from the pre-k program. The state’s compression of its pre-k program led to a exodus of unhappy teachers this year.

Many moved into elementary school openings to dodge the 10-percent, state-ordered pay cut resulting from the abbreviated pre-k calendar.

Earlier, the AJC reported that 57 of 77 pre-kindergarten teachers in Fulton quit between the last school year and the current one  Some left the system for other careers, while 47 moved into teaching jobs in kindergarten through fifth grade. In Decatur City Schools, six of nine pre-k teachers moved out of pre-k. In Clayton, it was 31 out of 32 lead teachers.

The pay cuts were part of Deal’s strategy to reduce pre-k spending by $54 million to compensate for flat-to-declining lottery funds. To accomplish that goal, the state slashed a month off the pre-k school year, eliminating 190 private and 76 public pre-k classes statewide, and increasing class sizes.

According to the AJC, Deal is now rethinking that decision:

Gov. Nathan Deal will propose reinstating 10 of 20 days that were removed from the current pre-k year, said Erin Hames, Deal’s deputy chief of staff for policy. The longer school year — 170 days — will result in a 4.4 percent pay raise for pre-k teachers, Hames said.

Last year, Deal suggested cutting the nationally lauded pre-k program from a full day to half day as part of a plan to ensure the long-term future of it and the popular HOPE scholarship program. Both programs are funded by slowing lottery revenues.

After a public outcry, Deal recommended, and the Legislature approved, shortening the pre-k school year from 180 to 160 days, and adding two students to each pre-k class. Teachers immediately left the program, providers said.

After the shorter school year and related pay cuts were approved, the retention rate for all pre-k teachers went from 81 percent to 75 percent. More dramatic was the turnover of pre-k teachers who work in public schools, with their retention rate falling from 87 percent to 64 percent, according to statistics compiled by Cagle’s office.

Pat Willis, executive director of the advocacy group Voices for Georgia’s Children, said Deal’s plan to restore 10 days is a welcome step.

“Especially for low-income kids, a full year of program is important for their preparation for kindergarten,” she said.

Hames said the governor will recommend the $7 million cost of adding 10 days be offset by reducing the pre-k slots by 2,000. In the plan approved last year, the governor increased the program’s slots from 84,000 to 86,000. Yet most of those extra slots were not filled, she said.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

76 comments Add your comment

alm

January 6th, 2012
12:19 am

This is good news. Pre-k is NOT babysitting. They could have it based on income to save money of needed.

PLaur

January 6th, 2012
1:26 am

Don’t be decieved. We only need pre-k for low income students. This would cut over half the budget and give more seniors a chance to go to collage. We need more students in college and less being babysat that don’t need it. I am a elementary principal and sent my personal kids to a private pre-k where they could actually learn to read and write before they went home at 12:00. The highscope that GA Pre-K uses does nothing to challange the average or better student. Low income students do benifit from the program because it teaches them how to function in a school setting. Highscope also exposes the low kids to words and ideas that are missing in some homes. Pre-K is a waste of Hope funds unless used to get the less fortunate ready for kindergarten. Bright From the Start wastes millions on a worthless curriculum and requires the over worked, under paid new teachers to perform meaningless tasks. All they are doing is trying to make their jobs more viable by keeping the teachers bogged down with worthless tasks and requirements. We need to fire 90% of the BFTS crowd, give more money to the hardest working teachers in the building, and get the right kids and only the right kids in the classes. I pray my district and many others gets feed up and refuses to accept the program. The private daycares can do it the way it is set up now and it is just a waste of time and space on the local system. Gwinette County and I believe Douglas County don’t have Pre-K in their public schools. I applaud them for refusing to take part in this most expensive baby sitting. Take it from someone who works with pre-K every day, Pre-K and BFTS is a joke as it currently opperates. Help low income families and do it right. we owe them all a chance. Families with resources can take care of their own children’s educational needs at age 4. Do you know that some of them are actully 3 for a month or 2 when school starts. These kids don’t need to be at a public school for 8 hours. Have we lost our minds?

jane

January 6th, 2012
2:38 am

That’s not a pay raise… it’s a reduction of a pay cut.

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

January 6th, 2012
4:03 am

Has our GA Pre-K program yet been evaluated by a competent, disinterested, out-of-state group whose report has been published in the legal organ in each county in our state?

Dr. Lamar Snarkman

January 6th, 2012
5:29 am

Yes, show me the data. The pre-k program has great potential, but I wish that our state government would audit its programs. One issue that seems strange to me, however: why doesn’t this same principle also apply to other teachers in fields with a high turnover such as special ed or math?

ssteacher

January 6th, 2012
6:08 am

If only the rest of the teachers at different grade levels could see the power we might have if we refused to work under the conditions our government is seeking to throw at us. A state-wide or nation-wide walk out would stop some of the insanity that is being called “education reform.” Teachers don’t know the power they really have. Who else would want to watch these kids all year, let alone teach them?

ScienceTeacher671

January 6th, 2012
6:12 am

Agree with the other posters so far. Particularly – the purpose of Pre-K is to get low-income, at-risk students ready for school. Most middle and upper income students do not need pre-K, or would be better off with the 2-3 day per week, 3-4 hour per day private programs.

Fulfill the actual purpose of pre-K, and then if there are extra slots, allow some of those who don’t need it to fill them. Or let them pay a sliding scale tuition.

Or make the Lottery Corp pay their full allotted percentage to education – I personally never bought very many lottery tickets, but I will not buy any until they do. I wonder how much of the flat sales problem is due to people realizing that too much of the money is going to line the pockets of Lottery Corp officials, and not enough to education?

catlady

January 6th, 2012
6:58 am

You see that this would be funded by reducing the number of slots (ie the number of teachers)? So a longer year for fewer kids. There may be some slack in how many kids registered this year. Maybe their parents held them out because of the shorter year?

What we COULD do is reduced the high-paying, do-nothing “education” jobs (patronage) under the Governor’s office and in the DOE. I could make some specific recommendations if the Gov is interested!

Our preK here is about 50% Latino, although they represent about 15% of the population. Hmm.

catlady

January 6th, 2012
7:00 am

Agree with SciTch (again!) FIRST, the Lottery Corp must pay its agreed-upon share of the money! And start “paying back” the millions upon millions it has shorted and stiffed the state and the taxpayers who voted for the thing!

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

January 6th, 2012
7:02 am

State sanctioned baby-sitting service for the “Will-Nots.”

Terminate the entire program.

Sin-I-Cull

January 6th, 2012
7:11 am

If you want to save Hope, take away the waste from Technical schools…most people are there for Pell & Hope money, not a career!

teach ss

January 6th, 2012
7:25 am

I wish he’d have the same initiative for K-12 teachers/students. It’s easier to help Pre-K than K-12 and that is all his little, tiny brain can do. We have a much bigger problem and it doesn’t stem from the fact Pre-K is only 160 days per year. Low grad rates, dropouts, unmotivated/uninspired students, low morale mixed with public-ed teachers day/pay cuts, standardized testing, race-to-the-top evals, (do you understand that with the the new eval system, admin will be spending at least 6-7 hours per teacher do evals and wrie-ups? What, what? We need more parent/student support, better professional developments, better lesson planning and NOT wasted time on evals. On average, over 600 hours (based on 100 teachers) per school year (out of 1440 hours per year (180 days x 8 hrs a day) will be spent by admin doing these RTP evals – how crazy!. Hope your school, like mine, have a principal and 2-3 APs to assist or your poor principle and one AP won’t have time to handle NOTHING!)
If the Gov really wants to improve education, step it up! Take on the challenge of public schools K-12 and “fix” that.

Judge Smails

January 6th, 2012
7:26 am

PLaur, don’t be deceived. I have one child in K and one in pre-K right now that can read and write at High Point ES in Sandy Springs. Your comment about needing more students in college is off the mark too – get out in the real world and see the applicants that went to college because they thought they were supposed to. It’s terrible. In actuality, the waste is the Hope scholarship for those.

ScienceTeacher, your sliding scale sounds a lot like to each according to his need…

Title 1 Teacher

January 6th, 2012
7:41 am

“I am a elementary principal” “challange” “benifit” “Gwinette” etc. etc.

If PLaur is an elementary principal, I’m a rocket scientist.

If you don’t think privileged children need pre-K, think again. Many of them have difficulty adjusting to a school atmosphere where they are expected to share the toys, do as they’re told, or delay their gratification even for a few minutes. Different skill set, still necessary for Kindergarten.

HS Public Teacher

January 6th, 2012
7:50 am

Why do we think that pre-K is necessary? I think that we need to answer that question first.

Pre-K is a new addition to education in Georgia and really has not been around for many years. When I was growing up in rural Georgia, most kids did not set foot in a classroom until 1st grade. And, most of my friends became college educated and are now working professionals.

Some kids did go to some form of Church program, but it was more for fun than for education.

So then, why do we think that pre-K is so very important today?

If it is because parents are not doing their job, then I cry “foul”. Why should tax payer money be used to replace what parents should be doing?

Recall that the “Head Start” program was started specifically to help under-privileged children get exposed to life skills that they otherwise missed out on because of their social situation (not the kids fault). I am not talking about that program here. I’m talking about the generic pre-K.

PEE OWED

January 6th, 2012
8:01 am

If Nathan Deal cared about education then he would do something constructive about it. Pre-K / HOPE, He has done nothing short of putting an abortion on the programs. He’s killing our our education system with his lame brained ideas. HOPE money, when it was established, is supposed to go to the funding of these programs and NOW our great legislators, DEAL included, have found ways to spend the money on other pet projects. Today, 27% of the revenue from the lottery is going to HOPE/ Pre-K. Tell your legislators to look into this and either fix it or vote them out. Georgian’s take heed to the waste DEAL other lifetime legislators have been stealing from our hard earned taxes.

reality 2

January 6th, 2012
8:13 am

So, if pre-K is only for poor, is that good enough reason to cut the program? As for data, so what data do we have that support the effectiveness of public schools – not all but there are plenty that aren’t doing much better than baby sitting.

PLaur hopefully just flips fries

January 6th, 2012
8:36 am

Title I Teacher, Ha! But don’t forget “collage.” PLaur (God, I hope that P doesn’t stand for principal) wants to send more kids to “collage” !! And he sent his/her “personal kids” to preschool to learn to write.

Good entertainment.

“Collage” was my favorite, followed by “a elementary,” “personal kids,” and “Gwinette”…

the prof

January 6th, 2012
8:38 am

@PLaur….spoken like a true education major with outstanding student loans!

Misty Fyed

January 6th, 2012
8:44 am

State Funded Pre-K….Just another useless giveaway.

carlosgvv

January 6th, 2012
8:50 am

Everything Deal does is purely for political purposes, nothing else. A good reporter needs to dig deeper and find out the real reason he’s doing this.

Judge Smails

January 6th, 2012
8:50 am

Remember folks, Hope and pre-K are lottery funded. Nobody is taxed to pay for these… unless you are like me and consider the lottery a tax on stupid people.

GFY

January 6th, 2012
8:57 am

Try becoming responsible for educating your own children you have conceived and quick waiting around for someone else to do it for you. If you cannot or will not do this then do not have children. TAKE SOME RESONSIBILITY!!

GFY

January 6th, 2012
8:58 am

You are correct, Judge Smails. and the world needs these ditch digging lottery players, too.

Jaggar

January 6th, 2012
9:03 am

The issue with have is very simple. The politicians refuse to be the whole alamoun that is suppose to be alloted for HOPE Scholarship. Instead, they all vote to give outrageous bonuses and salaries to the Lottery Employees. Pre-K is fine but it should be funded half day. The intended purpose for HOPE was to help seniors attend college, and now many are coming out of college with serious debt. This could be easily resolved if they would cut the salaries of the Lottery employees and raise the percentage to the top percent. Politicians have dipped into the honey pot again and should be ashamed of themselves!

GFY

January 6th, 2012
9:03 am

PLaur is “quiet” the enter tain er…..still laughing at this……this is why my kids will not “attand” “publix” schrools…..LOL

Jaggarjaggar

January 6th, 2012
9:04 am

Sorry-too many typos! The politicians refuse to put the whole amount that is suppose to be alloted!

Sin-I-Cull

January 6th, 2012
9:04 am

the talk from most “students” at “technical college” is all about the “free money” they are receiving from Pell & Hope

The Accountant

January 6th, 2012
9:06 am

Jaggar:

Please impress us with some facts……How much money is paid in Lottery Employees Bonuses and salaries? If this money is removed from their compensation what will the hit to lottery revenues be, if any? Let’s put some numbers with your rant, shall we?

Dr. Monica Henson

January 6th, 2012
9:06 am

HS Public Teacher posted, “Why should tax payer money be used to replace what parents should be doing?”

Because if it is not used in education, it will be used somewhere down the road–in jails and/or the public assistance system. The earlier it is used in education, the most effective and inexpensive the costs (if the program is effective, and that’s a big “if.”). I’m not defending bad/lazy/incompetent/unwilling parents, but the simple fact is that they have children and then send them to public schools.

GFY

January 6th, 2012
9:16 am

Dr. Monica Henson:

Why not just put the money in abortion programs and then we would not have to worry about jailing these little problems. By chance would you be in the field of education? If so, are you being duplicitous about what you would like to see additional revenue in public education used for?

Dunwoody Mom

January 6th, 2012
9:18 am

@HS Public Teacher – you are aware that Pre-K is paid for by lottery proceeds, not tax money….

TeachMom

January 6th, 2012
9:22 am

I find it highly amusing that PLaur’s kids needed to go to school to learn how to read and write. Children who have educated parents should have considerable knowledge of both prior to attending school. If you are indeed a principal, you should be fired based on your horrible grammar, spelling, and word choice.

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

January 6th, 2012
9:23 am

These sorry parents, who arent qualified to cook french fries, are in effect sentencing their children to a lifetime of prison and prostitution.

Soccermom

January 6th, 2012
9:46 am

PreK may be needed by a certain demographic but ABCs and 123s can be taught by most anyone whereas few people are capable of teaching college level classes.

I also remember reading studies showing that, by third grade, students who did not participate in PreK were on the same level as those students who were in PreK. So it seems that, for the most part, there are no long-term benefits and PreK is being used by many families who shouldn’t need someone else to teach rudimentary concepts to their children (or simply used as child care by those same families who should, in my opinion, pay for it themselves).

Cosby

January 6th, 2012
9:49 am

Pre K = Babyystting…call it what you want but it is government run babysitting….Once again I will point out the real problem with Government run Education – no parent responsibility….It is time to make parents responsible and cut this crap out about cradle to grave dependency on the government.

Atlanta Media Guy

January 6th, 2012
10:03 am

The rants here are hilarious! Like Fran Millar yesterday, Deal admits the mistake and wants to restore the hours taken away. One of my children won the Pre-K lottery and it did prepare him for Kindergarten. However, my youngest did not get that lucky and attended a private Pre-K program. Interesting note, my child that did not go to “lottery funded” Pre-K is a straight A student and is headed into the Magnet program, as long as he is lucky enough to win the magnet lottery. My child who did attend the public Pre-K is in his first year of the 7th grade Magnet program. So any Pre-K is good for kids. One last note; my wife and I read to our kids nightly until they could read themselves. My kid who attended the public Pre-K program, read his first Harry Potter book the Summer after his year in Kindergarten. Both of my boys have been reading several grade levels above their own for 6 years! We’re blessed for sure.

The one thing I liked about the public Pre-K program is that it exposes kids to real school activities that take place from K-12. I love that aspect, it certainly prepared my one boy that got lucky enough to win his spot.

Ashley

January 6th, 2012
10:06 am

@Plaur, perhaps you should invest in adult-education courses. If you were turning in your text for a grade in English and Composition, I’m afraid you would fail. Spelling doesn’t appear to be your strong suit, decieved…..collage….challange…benifit….Gwinette. Everyone makes grammatical and spelling mistakes from time to time, but please stop bragging that you are a principal in charge of staff and students!

Byte Me

January 6th, 2012
10:08 am

Here’s a bet: all the people claiming that Pre-K = babysitting don’t have a 4-year-old in it.

Mine’s learning to read (and can get through a Dick & Jane primer with ease) and write, and can do simple math (adding and subtracting numbers up to 100). No “babysitter” I know of does that.

My daughter was in private pre-K/day care and she came out with none of this.

But, of course, the naysayers are certain of their own opinions.

Atlanta Mom

January 6th, 2012
10:17 am

How about we fund Pre-K based on average household income for the zip code? If the Pre-K school is located in a zip code in the bottom 75% of average income for the state, then that school is funded with lottery funds. This would prevent the person I know who lives in a $500,000 house, with a stay at home mom, from taking a pre-k spot from a child who would clearly benefit more than her child. Also, it would be a lot less paperwork than every family having to produce documentation about income (and the preschool having to keep up with all the paper).

Title 1 Teacher

January 6th, 2012
10:18 am

Hey, I have an idea: what if everybody who insists that Pre-K is babysitting go spend 3 days working with a Pre-K class? It might LOOK like babysitting from the outside but trust me, there’s more to it.

When my daughter got to Pre-K, she knew many things others did not: what a book was, how to identify letters, numbers, shapes, and symbols. She knew how to share and how to use her inside voice…well, mostly. Her Dad and I worked full time and she spent as much as 10 hours a day in daycare. Fortunately, her Pre-K was lottery funded so I was able to quit work to attend a teacher ed program full-time, thinking that I’d have a challenging yet fulfilling career. Har.

When she got to Kindergarten, she could transition smoothly from center to center without arguing with the teacher. She could write her alphabet and numbers. She knew to wait patiently for her snack to be delivered. She knew how to line up to walk to the gym, how to ask permission to go to the restroom, how to help other children put on their coats, how to raise her hand to ask for help, and how to sit at a table to listen to her teacher’s instructions. This may not sound like a lot, but to a Kindergarten teacher it meant she could begin some actual instruction.

As a result of that instruction, my daughter left Kindergarten knowing math and reading at a first grade level. She has been ready for every year at school. She has NOT required hours of remediation from a teacher, which would be hard for any first grade teacher who has 22 students and no parapro.

Harp

January 6th, 2012
10:25 am

Pre-K is good for any child. It introduces them to the classroom setting as well as basic concepts. Not to mention, it is free! After paying daycare expenses for 3 years, a lot of parents welcome the break. The problem is finding a top tier program that has an opening.

Pompano

January 6th, 2012
10:25 am

It would make sense that there should be higher turn-over in Pre-K positions compared to later stages. These should be considered Entry-level teaching positions and thereby also the lowest compensated within the Educational System. Good candidates move up in the ranks (grades) – which this article points out is occurring. That’s actually a good thing as it helps improve the quality of instruction in subsequent grades.

Lee

January 6th, 2012
10:27 am

Interesting:

“Hames said the governor will recommend the $7 million cost of adding 10 days be offset by reducing the pre-k slots by 2,000. In the plan approved last year, the governor increased the program’s slots from 84,000 to 86,000. Yet most of those extra slots were not filled, she said.”

Only in the convoluted world of government accounting can you see this kind of rationale. You increase the budget to fund expenditures that you didn’t need or use, so now you laud the cost savings by cutting out those same “expenditures”.

Folks, it’s just a matter of time before the giant ponzi scheme we call government comes crashing down. We already have major cities and states (Birmingham, California) who are for all intents and purposes, bankrupt and are being propped up by non-existant federal dollars.

You think there is discontent now. Just wait until the welfare checks start bouncing and the EBT cards get denied.

Keep your powder dry, boys…

Struthers

January 6th, 2012
10:44 am

Pre-K is a joke. Actually, many schools in the past didn’t even have kindegarten. What kids had then was parents who cared about them, who taught them and loved them. Kids can learn as much at 6 as they could have learned from Pre-K and K, if they are properly taught. Of course parents these days only produce kids in order to collect WIC payments, so there just isn’t any answer for it except to quit rewarding the bad behaviour of these “for profit” baby producers.

Former School Board Member

January 6th, 2012
10:54 am

Governor Deal is committed to improving the educational system in this state. In case you did not know the state has consistently demonstrated steady improvement (Nape results) for the past 40 years. Are we at the top yet, no, but we are heading in the right direction. I commend a Governor that is willing to listen to Teachers, Board Members, and Administrators as he works to improve the public education system in our state. Studies prove that ALL children benefit from earlier exposure to their formal education. My 1st grader is currently reading at a 3rd grade level. She loves to read and I believe the pre-k program is primarily responsible for this result. Her ability to read at a third grade level now will allow her to excel as she makes her way through our public education system. If the solvency of HOPE is up for debate then I say further increase the standards that are required for Seniors to get tuition paid for through the HOPE program. Why do parents/students feel entitled to a free lunch? I borrowed and worked my way through college without any public or family support. You know what, I believe I’m a better person for it and I know I place a higher value on the education that I EARNED for myself. We are raising a generation of entitlement crybabies!!!!

Dr NO / Mr Sunshine

January 6th, 2012
11:01 am

Atlanta Mom

January 6th, 2012
10:17 am

Uh no. You see that wouldnt be fair and political fairness is a must. Just ask the democrats.

Guess the sword cuts both ways.

JOD

January 6th, 2012
11:15 am

@Atlanta Media Guy and Byte Me – Thanks for your insight. We are on the cusp of making the private or GA pre-K decision for next fall (we are in a school that offers both, so we are lucky to have a choice), so it is nice to hear that others find value in the GA pre-K program.

@Harp – Amen to that :o )

I will continue to read to my 3-year-old, learn Spanish to help with her Spanish, and work on counting/math, letters, words, etc. I’m not sure why so many seem to think working parents won’t supplement preschool/pre-K with at-home learning?

@FSBM – I agree that it’s nice – for a change – to have a Governor who is willing to rethink his position when it makes sense. I at least give him credit for that.

Dr. Monica Henson

January 6th, 2012
11:25 am

@GFY: I’m not being duplicitous at all. I want to see all kids educated to the best of their abilities. It’s a lot cheaper to do that in the early childhood and primary grades than it is when they get to me in high schools, or worse, when they’ve dropped out and are incarcerated or on public assistance with little ones of their own. We can spend ~$24,000 a year to jail criminals, a majority of whom are dropouts, or we can educate them WELL when they are young children and save all of us a whole world of expense and trouble. What’s duplicitous about that?

Dekalb taxpayer

January 6th, 2012
11:32 am

I usually don’t disagree with Maureen, but I think this is a horrible idea. The number of days a child stays in a pre-K program should depend upon the number of days needed to adequately educate the child AND the state’s ability to pay for the program. It should NOT depend upon the needs of the teachers for a certain number of days of employment. Talk about letting the tail wag the dog! Yes, a number of teachers have left because the job no longer suits their particular needs. But over time, other teachers would apply who find that the number of days and the salary offered for a pre-K position is better than their other options. Let the market correct itself.