Can we continue to provide less and less yet ask schools for more and more?

One of my questions to presenters at an education symposium Friday was what three things the Georgia Legislature had done in the last few years that helped education and what had hurt it.

Herb Garrett of Georgia School Superintendents Association paused for a moment before responding: “The road to hell is paved with good intentions. I think there have been some good intentions. But it’s easier to talk about the damage.”

And the greatest damage to schools has come from the ongoing “austerity cuts,” a phrase introduced into education parlance by Gov. Sonny Perdue in 2003.

Cumulatively, those cuts have reduced spending in Georgia k-12 schools by $1.1 billion per year, said Garrett, a former principal and superintendent.

“There are systems barely able to keep their heads above water,” he said, speaking at the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education’s annual session on top school issues in the state.

State Rep. Stacey Abrams, D-Atlanta, could only come up with two positives that she and her peers achieved for education — increased flexibility for systems that win charter status and House Bill 186, which broadened career and technical offerings in high schools.

That she could not come up with a third example bothered Abrams. The problem is that Georgia has disinvested in its schools, she said. Many of her General Assembly colleagues sidestep the damaging underfunding because they don’t want to be tarred as tax-and-spend types.

But a manufacturer faced with unskilled workers and broken-down machinery only has three choices, said Abrams: Go bankrupt, accept that it will produce an inferior product for a down-scale market or seek new investments to improve its workforce and its product.

With its schools, Georgia has opted to produce a mediocre product and peddle it to dollar stores, said Abrams.

Her Republican colleague at the podium, Brooks Coleman of Gwinnett, did not disagree.

“It’s a fact that we have had deep cuts in education,” said Rep. Coleman, a former teacher. “I thought about having a bake sale or an auction. If we could just put the money back in — but it is not going to happen.”

It’s not only lawmakers at fault, said Coleman. Voters contend they want all sorts of improved government services, including better schools, but balk at paying for them.

Jadun McCarthy, Georgia Teacher of the Year, talked about the impact of cuts on the classroom.

“We are being told, ‘You need to do more with less,’” he said. “That sounds like a great philosophy. But it presupposes you weren’t doing the most that you could with what you had in the first place.”

A Bibb teacher, McCarthy said his school is in the bottom 5 percent of Georgia high schools, although he and other teachers are committed to their students’ success.

“For whatever reason, we are not reaching them; they are not learning the way they should. Is that solely the responsibility of the teacher?” he asked.

McCarthy said he has students who live in homes with no electricity and who come to class hungry because their last meal was yesterday’s school lunch.

“People think my job is to get this child to read ‘Beowulf,’ to understand Shakespeare, the bard of Avon. This child doesn’t care,” said McCarthy. “This child wants to be in a room with heat. This child wants to be safe.”

“There is no test that measures that Mr. McCarthy made a difference in this child’s life because he kept him off the street,” he said. “Our job goes beyond giving information and knowledge. Our job involves the creation and building up of a human being.”

Traveling the state as Teacher of the Year, McCarthy said, “I found out that teachers are tired. They are tired of being put down and focused on as the sole problem in an education system that is quite frankly not where it should be.”

McCarthy said the classrooms of today differ little from the classrooms of 1985. “Children in rows of desks. A teacher in front of the room. You might have a white board instead of a blackboard, but fundamentally the classroom is the same, yet our children are different.”

Today’s children are growing up with iPads, iPhones and computers, he said. Yet, schools continue to treat technology as an add-on rather than an essential.

In the flush days of the Georgia Lottery, there was money to pay for technology in schools along with HOPE scholarships and pre-k. Local systems received so much lottery cash for hardware, said Garrett, that “we joked that we created a new state flower. Instead of the Cherokee Rose, we had the satellite dish because one of those ugly things sprang up in the yard of every school in the state.”

But the lottery now can’t even fully fund HOPE and pre-k, so districts pay for their own technology. Garrett says this exacerbates the gap between wealthy systems that can afford the latest innovations and the poor rural ones “that are probably still using Apple IIes.”

Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

159 comments Add your comment

Rural Education

January 21st, 2012
10:16 am

Many of us feel this gutting is by design, that there are some who want to eliminate publice education altogether.

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
10:38 am

Rural systems are literally starving to death. The poverty rate is above 50%. In my county many families fall into the “working poor” category. They work, they don’t rely on government assistance, but they are hanging by a thread.

You won’t find any Apple IIes in our system because they all died a few years ago, but you also won’t find any replacements. My 7 year old Macbook is on its last leg. I’ve been told to back up my hard drive, and hope for the best. If it crashes, I won’t be given a replacement.

Purdue’s austerity cuts will go down in history as a turning point in GA. If something does not change in the next couple of years, this state will be paying for the shenanigans of the Gold Dome for many, many years.

Digger

January 21st, 2012
11:02 am

The spiral is out of control. Educators are blindingly out of touch with today’s kids, and yet are not smart enough to even realize it. PC has this country in a state of paralysis, trying to be all things to all people, The inmates rule the asylum, and the slow, steady degeneration into anarchy continues.

GA Teach

January 21st, 2012
11:04 am

The era of “do more with less” has already passed…..Now what? Most schools systems…will have to increase class size and teacher work load…..hmmm. What happens when schools have to cut after school programs (successful programs are going to be cut) and more youngsters are going home early….I wonder if this will make our communities better our just cause our penal system to become more crowded then it already is.

Gwinnett Budget outlook….Min. budget cut 89 million…District no longer able to do
more with less. For many years, a conservative approach to budgeting has helped GCPS achieve balanced budgets and make necessary cuts. However, the district has reached the
point where it can no longer do more with less funding without affecting programs and services.
The cost-saving measures implemented in the past will not be enough to balance future budgets.
Additional cost-saving measures will have to be implemented in the FY2013 budget… measures that may be more painful to implement as they will more directly affect what takes place in the classroom.

Old timer

January 21st, 2012
11:05 am

Keep in mind it is not just schools starving…..in many more rural areas police qualify for food stamps…not just peach care. States have to decide what essential services are in fact essential. Education and public safety being the two main things we expect from our state…..

old school doc

January 21st, 2012
11:06 am

Finally Stacy Abrams found her voice. Let’s hope it tis not too late for the students of Georgia.

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
11:07 am

“That she could not come up with a third example bothered Abrams.”

Wow…that’s single sentence is perhaps one of the most powerful lines ever written on this blog.

She could not come up with THREE positive things!

Shame. Shame. Shame. :(

skipper

January 21st, 2012
11:10 am

No amount of money in the world is going to fix the broken-down family systems that are contributing to this situation. The problem is the continuation of pretty bad home conditions, a de-emphasis on education, and in many (not all, but many) cases a parent who expects the school to be baby-sitter, trainer, and cure-all for all of societies wounds! This is not the total problem, but throwing money at different programs that clearly do not work is crazy! I know that societies must advance and improve, but more time needs to be spent on fundamental reading, math, etc. and less on “fix-of-the-week” compliance. I come from a family of educators, and the entire system is more bogged down with time-consuming unproductive compliance with politically correct jargon than just plain old education. More funds are wasted on stupid, unproductive stuff that eventually do indeed cause financial hardships. Some training, etc. is always needed, but look at a school budget and break down the expenditures. Some of the government-forced stuff could be cut without affecting the welfare of the kids one bit! However, society itself once must again place emphasis on the value of a good education and reach those who must do their part. Until this happens, money, programs, or anything else just won’t work!!!

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
11:13 am

*that*…..My fingers got ahead of my brain on that one.

liberalefty

January 21st, 2012
11:20 am

rural po folks overwhelmingly vote republican…we all know repubs have a disdain for po people..

Mary Elizabeth

January 21st, 2012
11:23 am

@teacher&mom @10:38

“Purdue’s austerity cuts will go down in history as a turning point in GA. If something does not change in the next couple of years, this state will be paying for the shenanigans of the Gold Dome for many, many years.”
——————————————————————————–

I agree, and I also believe that it is not coincidence that the attempt to dismantle public education in Georgia parallels the national Republican agenda to dismantle public education, for private education, nationally, just as the national Republican agenda has been to dismantle “government” sponsored Social Security for privatized Social Security.

In the last decade, Georgia has had two Republican governors, a first since Reconstruction, as well as a Republican dominated Legislature, and the toll their ideological agenda has created on education in Georgia has been enormous. More is going on than budget concerns, in my opinion. I, also, believe that their ideological agenda is hurting children throughout our state. Voters must turn this agenda around by voting for public servants who support public education, and who support improving public education not dismantling it, for the benefit of our young and for the future progress of our state.

=================================================

Note to teacher&mom: I want to thank you for your comments to me, in a previous educational thread, in which you shared with me the excellence of the Finnish schools. I want you to know that I included your video clip about Finland’s schools in my latest entry within my personal blog. I have given you credit for having shared that information with me. You can preview my blog entry, here:

http://maryelizabethsings.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/about-education-essay-1-mastery-learning/

sloboffthestreet

January 21st, 2012
11:27 am

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions?”

Oh yeah, I forgot. You can’t have a Heaven without a place called Hell. It just doesn’t work.

Perhaps this is part of the problem? What a bunch of crazy talk.

Disgusted with our politicians

January 21st, 2012
11:29 am

School systems in Georgia have been gutted by our politicians who pander to loud mouth tea party type idiots. Systems have cut and cut to the point that our legislators and Governor are violating the state constitution by NOT providing a basic education to Georgia’s children. Even though we are allotted money based on an outdated formula from 1985, our politicians still see fit to withhold substantial amounts of OUR money under the guise of “austerity cuts” or now called “amended formula adjustments”. Schools were denied over 1 billion dollars just last year! Now our Governor brags about investing in education for FY13 yet he absolutely plans to maintain the exact same cuts as last year which will amount to ANOTHER 1 BILLION dollars!!! Meanwhile, they plan to increase the amount of tax revenue that can be redirected to private schools through the GOAL program…from 50 million dollars this year to possibly 150 million next year…helping the elite get even more elite. But, it’s okay because the vocal minority being represented by Rep. Chip Rogers knows how to work the system? Legislators, just know that you are about to see a groundswell from around the state that will demand funding be restored to PUBLIC schools or you will be swept out of office. The tide is turning because we’ve had enough. If the Governor’s budget proposal doesn’t change to reflect restored funding, EVERY person supporting it will be held accountable. RESTORE AUSTERITY CUTS NOW instead of filling the state’s reserves. We need help NOW!

Roberta

January 21st, 2012
11:30 am

I will comment on the Gorgia preK program. We are new to the state. We found GA prek quite odd compared to the preK programs offered in many other states. I taught preK for 15 years+. Our programs were 3 1/2 hour classes, an AM class and a PM class. I worked a 40 hour week over the school year, and children did not attend on Mondays (teacher planning time). Head Start has followed this schedule since its inception, until recently adding full day/full week to accommodate working parents at some sites. However, prek and Head Start was just to ‘bring at-risk kids’ up to speed with the ‘middle class’. Prek in many states was not day care. My grandson is in GA preK. After lunch, he takes a short nap and goes home at 2 pm. So……. basically taxpayers are not paying to educate, but to allow the child to nap. GA preK COULD serve more by changing to half day programming at some sites and not sacrifice quality.

ScienceTeacher671

January 21st, 2012
11:57 am

“We the willing, led by the unknowing, are doing the impossible for the ungrateful. We have done so much, with so little, for so long, we are now qualified to do anything, with nothing.”

I’m told that the quote is from Mother Teresa, but it could also apply to the teachers in many of Georgia’s systems.

ScienceTeacher671

January 21st, 2012
12:00 pm

I taught preK for 15 years+. Our programs were 3 1/2 hour classes, an AM class and a PM class.

Sounds like first grade in the elementary school I attended many years ago. We only went half-days due to overcrowding. Some of us went to private kindergarten, others didn’t. If we didn’t learn to read and write in first grade, we didn’t go to 2nd grade.

Good Mom

January 21st, 2012
12:02 pm

Yet, with all these cuts in the education budget there is still a boat load, a fleet full of bloated bureaucracy and overspending on overhead. I’m like some other posters who feel that I don’t want any more tax dollars being spent until the bloated bureaucracy is deflated.

I also balk at “techonology” in the classroom. We really don’t need it in elementary schools. The promethium boards are $1,500 each and the same functions can be performed with a $300 laptop and a white board. I;ve seen them in action and I am not impressed.

What we really need to spend the money on — high teacher salaries to recruit the best quality teachers, not merit pay. We need to make college students want to go into educatoin because they know they can earn a good living. Schools with poorer folks in them shouold be allowed to pay a teacher more to incentify that teacher to come to their school.

Smaller classes. No more than twenty in a room ever.

A safe buidling.

An honest principal.

The rest is way down the list of priorities. Those are the items we need money for. The rest of the crap is just crap and needs to go.

Good Mom

[...] there have been some good intentions. But it’s easier to talk about the damage.’”(more)    Comments (0) Go to main news [...]

cris

January 21st, 2012
12:28 pm

as we speak (or comment as the case may be) there is money being spent for MORE training on the common core standards, MORE training for administrators to observe teachers, MORE time and effort to document MORE changes moving from NCLB to RttT (which hasn’t even officially happened yet!) and LESS time for teachers to spend teaching, tutoring, reflecting, refining, reteaching, etc. There is no more MORE where I am…there’s just LESS left…..definitely LESS common sense!

sloboffthestreet

January 21st, 2012
12:48 pm

ScienceTeacher671

Now that you are qualified to do anything with nothing, what’s the holdup? Get er dun!

Roberta

What you are witnessing is simply more double talk from educators. I have yet to see a teachers child not attend the schools one pre-k class yet. Teachers use this resource for what they accuse the general population of doing. Using public education for FREE DAYCARE. These pre-K seats should go to the most in need attempting to bring a level playing field for kindergarten students arriving on campus. Instead it creates a group of elitists, Helicopter Teacher Parents. It is there to give educators and office, PTO and friends of education free daycare for their little darlings. You see if pre-K was only two 1/2 day classes, who would care for the teachers children? Teachers refuse to understand the cost associated with before/after care and daycare during the days school is not in session. It is at a minimum $5,000 per year per child. Something almost all teachers do not have to pay. Yet they cry about the average $50,000 salary for 180 days worked. How they sacrifice. All they do for our children. They do a great deal for their own children, the rest are left for someone else to educate. Roberta, that would be you! Welcome to the south!

To the rest of you selfless folks who do so much with so little, keep patting yourselves on the back and telling each other how wonderful you are. Your just swell!

something to think about

January 21st, 2012
12:49 pm

Not for nothing Maureen, but why don’t you shadow a teacher a few days in elementary, middle, and high for a rural system, urban system, and a suburban system? I think you might find the answer you are looking for and then some. I know you have been in schools and observed, but I think a few days shadowing a teacher might be an interesting eye-opener about what resources are allocated where.

Maureen Downey

January 21st, 2012
12:53 pm

@Something, A few years back, I spent a week in rural schools. However, I have not been back since the financial crisis, so it would be interesting to see the changes.
Maureen

ScienceTeacher671

January 21st, 2012
1:09 pm

Slob, in the process! :-D

Bama Bill

January 21st, 2012
1:11 pm

The Georgia Legislature, under leaders like Chip Rogers and Fran Millar are out of their leagues and far over their heads – they are dangerous men for the children of Georgia !

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

January 21st, 2012
1:24 pm

II if I hear the pithy platitudes of “Do more with less!” or “Work smarter not harder!” one more time from those higher up the educational system food chain I am going to puke on someone’s shoes. What tripe! Is that what they learn in their “leadership” workshops? It is insulting! Such comments suggest teachers are in the habit of wasting recourses and are not intelligent enough to figure out how to “work smart.”

“Do more with less” does not seem to apply once you go beyond the individual school level. I have not seen a whole lot of cutting back on consultants, think tanks, committees and non-classrooms and school level positions. Millions of dollars are being funneled into consulting firms, testing interests, evaluation design and the seeming continual revamp of “standards” while classroom teacher struggle with lack of Xerox paper, janitors have had to double or triple their workload, school libraries have closed due to lack of personnel, class sizes have increased, and secretaries are doubling as school nurses because there is no longer a nurse on site.

“Work smarter not harder” is another favorite with the big boys and girls. Their version of “work smarter not harder” appears to translate to, “Form a bunch of committees and assign teachers to those committees. Get the teachers to complete various tasks that fall under your job description, then take credit for all their work, without ever acknowledging the time and energy they put into doing your job.” I can see why they like tossing that one around.

The teachers I work with are doing wonders with “less” and have been doing so for years, but at some point there is only so much you can do without adequate materials, time, support and personnel. And we are already working smart. We are also working extremely hard. Doing one does not reduce doing the other. Every time we manage to figure out a way to “work smarter” and manage to fulfill some silly mandate coming down from above, the powers that be decide that since we haven’t folded yet, we must not have enough to do… so they dump something else on us to justify their positions.

The amount of time wasted, on petty tasks that do nothing to enhance the learning of children but make someone higher up look good on paper, is astounding.

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
1:51 pm

@slob – “I have yet to see a teachers child not attend the schools one pre-k class yet.”

Lucky boy…you just met your first teacher who did not send her children to Pre-K. You can mark that complaint off your long list.

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
1:52 pm

@Mary Elizabeth – Thank you :)

cris

January 21st, 2012
1:53 pm

@slob….while it is true that teachers don’t normally have to pay for childcare during summer break, I assure you that they do pay from 6 weeks old until children are 4 which is when they *voluntarily* may enter pre-k if the parent wishes for them to do so. And summer break is the ONLY break that I never had to pay childcare expenses…spring and christmas had to be paid whether the child was there or not….don’t know which teacher’s kid got picked ahead of you for the kickball team, but I think it’s time to let that one go…unless you’re just spending a saturday afternoon trolling….

Astounded Father

January 21st, 2012
2:05 pm

It seems the consensus is the “problem” lies within the system.

Yet many think and say the “system” needs more money and the refusal of the taxpayer to provide that money is why we are where we are.

I’m one of those taxpayers and if you fix the “system” we’ll be glad to give you more money.

Not until…

Yes, there are parents who fail at parenting(while failing at many other things as well) but until certain “demographics” grab themselves by the bootstraps and pull themselves up instead of expecting everyone else to be forced down to their level this problem will continue.

Tony

January 21st, 2012
2:15 pm

This year, our superintendent asked us to identify more areas we could cut without jeopardizing the quality of our product. To me, this was like asking a concert pianist which hand could we cut off without interfering with your musical ability. This is where we are with funding our schools. These is nothing left to cut that does not interfere with our ability to give children the best education possible.

Maureen, you hit the nail on the head with Brooks Coleman’s quote, “It’s not only lawmakers at fault, said Coleman. Voters contend they want all sorts of improved government services, including better schools, but balk at paying for them.”

carlosgvv

January 21st, 2012
2:22 pm

It’s no accident that Georgia is usually at the bottom in most categories of achivement. Hey, we work hard to be the worst!!!!!!

BC

January 21st, 2012
2:28 pm

Just a friendly reminder that taxes do not pay for GA Pre-K, the lottery does.

Ed Johnson

January 21st, 2012
2:43 pm

“Finally Stacy Abrams found her voice. Let’s hope it tis not too late for the students of Georgia.”

“Too late” is not the thought that comes to mind if she believes “increased flexibility for systems that win charter status” has helped education. Perhaps hers is yet another example of an abject poverty of thinking that’s going on among some legislators.

sloboffthestreet

January 21st, 2012
2:44 pm

Tony,

Brooks Coleman is the biggest pro give educators more and more cheerleader there is. If he had his way taxpayers would be paying teachers six figures and a retirement to match with little to no consideration for the taxpayer period. Just ask him. And he would not even consider changing anything in public education except for teacher pay & benefits.

Hey Mr. Coleman. Here is an improved service I want. Replace these Highly Qualified Educators with Highly Effective Educators. It won’t cost a penny and if done correctly you might find you can employ these new hires at a lower overall cost including providing them with a 401K that they make the major contribution to themselves. You know, like the rest of the population does? Sorry, I forgot you don’t know. “BALK” Take your base! One more question. What are these “All sorts of improved government services” you claim residents demand? What, a proper education for our children? Yes sir. I contend that is the sort of government service improvement I want. No balk there. I pay for it. Where is it?

When you present Mr. Coleman with factual information about educational failures his only response I have been given has been “Well I hope that isn’t the case.” His other famous response is, “I don’t believe that.” Then he likes to boast how he meets weekly for breakfast at a local diner. When I asked when I could come and meet him to discuss my concerns with public education his response was, “I don’t have any scheduled.”

Seems to me he represents educators, not education!

CharterStarter, Too

January 21st, 2012
2:57 pm

I am (clearly) a charter supporter. However, I, like the majority of other charter supporters, do not have an interest in dismantling the public education system. That’s not the end game we are trying to achieve.

In my view, the charter movement is aligned with the theory of relativity and inertia. Anything at rest will stay at rest, and something in motion will stay in motion. Something at rest requires a force or change agent to change its status. Something in motion will be stopped or slowed by a barrier.

As the public school system in Georgia is currently functioning, we are not seeing a return on investment of tax dollars or the hard work of public school educators in student achievement. The local school district administration and local school boards, both have personal and political reasons to maintain the status quo. The charter sector is merely trying to be a change agent to encourage public school districts and their boards to meet the needs of their constituents and serve students. Public school choice options via a quality charter sector is just ONE way to serve this constituency. The charters, in addition to offering parent options, also push districts and boards to reflect on their administrative and bureaucratic practices, resource allocation, and use of public dollars. This is important, otherwise we are doomed to remain status quo in public education.

The charter sector is causing movement in public education, reflection, and some changes in practice, but as it stands, the school districts are putting up barriers to stop this positive influence. Even if you don’t, as a parent, want to send your child to a charter school, please consider how important it is for you to have that choice and for the districts to be held accountable for student account comes. Support legislation that makes this possible. A Constitutional amendment is coming. The districts do NOT want to see this passed, as this will allow them to maintain a stronghold and allow complete and utter control. Opponents of this amendment will say that “local control” belongs to the local boards and that unhappy voters can vote those individuals out of office. If you are like me, you know this is exceedingly difficult, as most of these folks are well connected locally and have political means to stay in office. The Constitutional amendment will simply provide a checks and balances. And THAT is exactly what taxpayers need. If districts are fair minded and listen to their constituency, there will never be a need for interference by the state. But the mechanism must be in place to hold them accountable.

Getting to the economy of it all… Like districts, the charters are facing austerity cuts AND inequitable funding. But let’s just look at just austerity for a moment. Charters, because they are so, so lean due to the funding model, tend to prioritize differently. Decisions are made at the school level by a board that is directly and substantially vested in the charter, so financial decisions are based on mission and core programmatic offerings. There isn’t a lot of money to pay for unnecessary administration in the charter sector. Juxtipose that with the district school model. Austerity cuts ARE hard on a district with their current resource allocations, but it’s the classrooms and teachers that are feeling the cuts (just ask any teacher who has suffered with furlough days, county copy “clicks” and paying for essential supplies out of their own pockets). Central offices, although cuts are being made and they even sometimes furlough, are still beefy. I believe it might be an interesting study for someone to do to see exactly how much district offices allocate of their local tax dollars into central administration staff and programs/practices that don’t have a direct and substantial impact on children. Because districts have “total local control”, no one ever questions this and sees how this impacts the “adequacy” of the state funds allocated. It would be even more interesting to have educators and parents in each district review the district’s budget by line item and to prioritize expenditures. I believe you’d see a big difference in prioritization, and it would be substantially more investment in direct instruction. I do want to be clear that I think that the charters and rural school districts have something in common. Rural school districts, like charters, are VERY lean and generally have a very minimal central office function (though I must say there COULD be more collaboration amongst rural districts to share resources for central admin. functions). They are hurting from the austerity cuts and hurting bad. Do I believe the funding mechanism adequately supports public education? The answer is that is that it depends – for the charters and rural school districts, the answer is no. For other metro districts, it depends substantially on district resource allocation.

I think that as legislators contemplate making changes, there should be some accountability for local boards in how they allocate resources to ensure that good stewardship of funds takes place – and good stewardship means direct benefits to students. And as legislators from BOTH parties contemplate how impact student achievement, I do hope they will carefully ponder how we can possibly increase achievement if everyone talks about reform but no one is willing to actually make tough decisions and put structures in place that support positive reform.

To Teacher and Mom from Good Mom

January 21st, 2012
3:01 pm

T and Mom you said “Lucky boy…you just met your first teacher who did not send her children to Pre-K. You can mark that complaint off your long list.”

what did you do for day care or did you not use day care because you were financially fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom or did you have relatives to care for your child?

Very curious. I’m a working mom who used GA lottery funded pre K and just as another poster wrote, after care was $5,000 for each of my children.

catlady

January 21st, 2012
3:02 pm

CAN the public reasonably ask more? No.

Will more be REQUIRED? Yes.

No matter what, public schools will be awash in criticisms.

Maureen's shadow from Good Mom

January 21st, 2012
3:06 pm

Someone on this blog advocated shadowing teachers all day long from very types of schools to determine how their time is being spent. I would like Maureen to shadow administrators and bureaucrats all day long to see where the money is spent.

What I’d really like to see is someone, a reporter, to get a job in the adminisphere and report what is going on.

I would also like to see the bureaucrats move into one of the schools that are closing. Put their offices there. WHy pay tremendous overhead for office space when we will have land and a building a parking available at a closed school? It will save money on office space, preserve the building for when we will eventually need it again and it will put the bureaucrats near us where we can keep an eye on them.

Drake

January 21st, 2012
3:15 pm

Can we please just quit putting all the blame on teachers? My class sizes are getting bigger (and they’re going to get bigger next year…we’re getting rid of 6 positions), we’ve already lost 1 administrator, and it feels like I’m getting no support from parents or the GaDOE.

TO Astounded Father from Good MOm

January 21st, 2012
3:16 pm

AF says “Yet many think and say the “system” needs more money and the refusal of the taxpayer to provide that money is why we are where we are.

I’m one of those taxpayers and if you fix the “system” we’ll be glad to give you more money.

Not until…”

I agree. I agree so much I want to stand up and clap and cheer. My property taxes are outrageous. What do I get for them? A teacher who does not know how to use a singular verb and a beat up, crowded trailer for my kids to go to school in.

I work my fat azz off at my child’ school and every week I am loaded down with donations of supplies for the school that come out of my own pocked.

On top of this I work full time and pay the outrageous property taxes to support the debacle and we are being demonized as ne’er do wells with our hands out demanding more and more “services.”

I pay for my children to be educated and da@@mit, I expect my kids to learn at school.

Drake

January 21st, 2012
3:16 pm

But we sure know who to scapegoat when someone fails!

TO Drake from Good MOm

January 21st, 2012
3:24 pm

You said you are getting NO support from parents. What kind of support are you talking about? What is it that you expect from parents that you are not getting?

Do you see that parents feel as you do? That we are always being demonized?

Do you mean to say that you do not have even one parent who does an adequate job? How can that be? Teachers are also parents and public school teachers send their children to public schools. So if teachers are good parents and parents send their kids to public schools it stands to reason that you would have at least one student from a good parent, doesn’t it?

I think you are exaggerating when you say you have no parental support. I think you might have a few neglectful parents and you demonize the rest of us because you are bitter and angry and burned out on your job. You should save your energy and direct it at fixing what you can and escalating your concerns to the people who can change things. Organize a march on the Atlanta capital with your teacher colleagues, stage a sick out, protest but don’t blame the parents. We are struggling just as much or more than you are and we have much much more to lose.

catlady

January 21st, 2012
3:29 pm

Ms. Downey, could the AJC query legislators to answer your question, and then publish their answers? Also, publish the names of those who declined or were “too busy” to answer. Ask them not only the 3 things the legislature has done to help public education (and explain their answers) but what 3 things do they PLAN to do this year to help public education?

Drake

January 21st, 2012
3:33 pm

What kind of support are you talking about? What is it that you expect from parents that you are not getting?

I spend a good bit of my planning period calling parents of students who are apathetic, struggling, or disrespectful. One time, I had a student – who hardly makes an attempt, talks and cusses a lot, and never pays attention (once told me “I don’t f****ing care when I told him to stay on task) tell me “You’re a horrible teacher!” because he was failing. I called mom…again…to tell her about this. Her response was “Oh.” I know if I ever got a call home about even chewing gum in class, I’d be scared to go home. But I’m seeing little difference in attitude, effort, or behavior.

Ideally, I want to see every single one of my students succeed. And I spend well over 10 hours a day plus weekends doing what I can do what I can to see them succeed. I didn’t get into teaching for kudos, but it’s frustrating when it feels like I’m getting criticized for any bad grades and state test scores.

Dekalb Taxpayer@I Love Teaching

January 21st, 2012
3:48 pm

You are so correct.

DeKalb County Schools:
Compensation figures (salary and benefits):
165 non-teaching Coaches -$13,000,000
57 non-teaching Coordinators – $5,500,000
79 Parent Center Coordinators – $4,500,000

$23,000,000 for 301 employees that never teach a child. They “support” the teacher. And this isn’t counting all of the Assistant Directors and Directors and Managers, and Associate and Assistant Superintendents ad Infinitum.

We did not pay $8,000,000 a year for scripted learning programs like America’s Choice (with absolutely NO increases in student achievement in our county. Not one shred of data that it has helped DeKalb students for all the years we have had this program).

Prior to Hallford being superintendent in the late 90s, DeKalb had no “Coaches”, no Parent Center personnel (counselors and social workers had this as part of their job description) and very few Coordinators. We had one Coordinator for Language Arts, one for Math, one for Science and one for Social Studies (and about the same number of students we have currently). We had one coordinator for Technology, and that was pretty much it. You could walk into the Language Arts Coordinator Ginny Mickish’s office, and she would always talk to you and loved to hear your ideas (not like now as strict lines have been drawn so ordinary teachers cannot even directly contact a Central Office coordinator without getting written up). Ginny and all of the coordinators worked closely with the principals and spent most of their days in the schools. That’s how teachers knew them. They made a decent salary but not so far from a teacher. There were NO Assistant Principals in the elementary schools. Rather there was a Lead Teacher who worked one week after school ended and one week before school started. Most of them took on a reading and math group to teach to help out in classrooms that had too many reading or math groups. They were paid around $2,000 more for the extra two weeks. Since they still taught some students, they understood curriculum and classroom management and had practical ideas about both.

These are just a few examples of how money has been drained from the classroom. The ARRA (stimulus money) was not used to keep any teachers employed and the new RRTT money will not be either ($34,000,000 for DeKalb).

Regular education classrooms have seen massive amounts of dollars drained from direct instruction of students. And Perdue and subsequently Deal did absolutely nothing to stop this. As a matter of fact they aided and abetted it.

Deal and the legislature should have taken a lesson from Barnes and set class sizes very low and then let the school systems sort this out. When Barnes had class sizes low his last two years, superintendents kicked and yelled, but they were forced to cut in the admin and support area and pour that money into classrooms. Does anyone think the administrators in the school systems will voluntarily cut themselves?

I am all for fully funding education, but when the money continually goes to non-teaching positions and highly paid consultants and unproven programs then something must be done. DeKalb may be one of the most egregious systems with respect to spending money outside the classroom, but Cobb, Fulton, and most of the other metro systems have this same problem. Even rural systems have many more non-teaching positions than they ever had in the 90s. Starving the classroom by cutting funding or starving the classroom by redirecting increased funding into more and more nonteaching personnel has the same effect for students.

Please check the data and run these numbers for DeKalb for yourself. Maybe someone in your county may want to look at the non teaching positions using the same state website Salary and Travel Reimbursements):
http://www.open.georgia.gov/

State Salary and Travel audit – sort for Instructional Specialists (not the P-8 – they actually teach children), Literacy Coach, and Graduation Specialist (also known as Graduation Coaches) for Coaches. Sort for Instructional Supervisors for Coordinators. Sort for Parent Coordinators and Family Services Coordinators.

Ole Guy

January 21st, 2012
3:49 pm

I didn’t know Herb used such language…TSK TSK TSK! However, he’s absolutely right in that politicians certainly talk a good talk while the walking part is usually in the opposite direction. That being said…Herb, you definitely made a positive impression, both on me and on those blockhead kids, while at “Mayretta Ha Scho”!

drew (former teacher)

January 21st, 2012
4:10 pm

“McCarthy said the classrooms of today differ little from the classrooms of 1985. “Children in rows of desks. A teacher in front of the room. You might have a white board instead of a blackboard, but fundamentally the classroom is the same, yet our children are different. Today’s children are growing up with iPads, iPhones and computers, he said. Yet, schools continue to treat technology as an add-on rather than an essential.”

I would go further than that…we still “school” children the same way we did 100 years ago. Put 20-30 in a classroom with a teacher and go at it. Of course, back then we didn’t understand that schools should also be transporting, feeding, socializing, and counseling students.

Want to do “more with less”? Here’s an idea:

Put parents back in charge of their children’s education. Provide all students with a laptop and all necessary software, including internet access. Provide students with packets of materials and online resources and assessments so they can pursue their education at their own pace, IN THEIR OWN HOME, based on their abilities, work ethic, and level of parental involvement. The technology is here, and cost is not an issue, especially if you eliminate all the waste by doing the following:

First, repeal all mandatory attendance laws. Then…close the majority of schools. That’s right, close them! Keep a few open as “learning centers”, staffed M-F, from 6:00 AM until 10:00 PM, where students can get one-on-one assistance from teachers as needed. Eliminate bloated central offices. Eliminate principals, assistant principals, lead teachers, counselors, etc.. Eliminate the transporting and feeding of students. Of course, we’ll have to do away with the majority of teachers also, but such is the cost of doing more with less.

Now, I know the above scenario is a pipe dream that will (probably) never come to pass. I’m just saying the way we’re doing it now borders on insanity. I honestly believe that the large systems (Fulton, Dekalb, Cobb, Clayton, APS) are so inept, corrupt and top heavy, they can’t be fixed or reformed. Large bureacracies are simply immune from real reform…let’s see what happens to Dekalb’s bloated central office…does anybody really think that jobs program is going to be reeled in? The current system cannot be tweaked or “reformed” into something better, it needs to be blown-up and rebuilt from the ground up.

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
4:16 pm

@Good Mom…”what did you do for day care or did you not use day care because you were financially fortunate enough to be a stay at home mom or did you have relatives to care for your child?”

Actually a combination of all of the above. I had a relative, whom I paid, to care for one child. There were a couple of years where I used a daycare. btw: I had to pay the daycare throughout the summer to “hold my spot.”

Then I quit. I left teaching after six years. The reality was this….after paying for childcare, I wasn’t bringing home enough money to justify working full-time.

My husband worked two jobs to help make ends meet. I cleaned a few houses, taught private music lessons, and babysat for a neighbor. It was a financially difficult time but it was an important time for our family. It was a sacrifice we were willing to make.

I returned to teaching before my youngest started kindergarten. I was fortunate to find a babysitter who would transport her to an excellent part-time private preschool. While I could have placed her in the lottery-funded pre-K program and saved myself $500/month, I chose to not to.

I’m realistic and mature enough to know that everyone’s situation is different. However, Slob’s insistence in lumping all teachers into some sort of parasitic organism that abuses pre-K was completely inaccurate.

Jerry Eads

January 21st, 2012
4:17 pm

Have to agree with Herb. The education motto for the previous governor and the legislature perhaps should have been “Doing our level best to keep Georgia dead last in student achievement.” Did a fine job of it too.

Teacher2

January 21st, 2012
4:18 pm

@ I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming…

“Work smarter not harder” is another favorite with the big boys and girls. Their version of “work smarter not harder” appears to translate to, “Form a bunch of committees and assign teachers to those committees. Get the teachers to complete various tasks that fall under your job description, then take credit for all their work, without ever acknowledging the time and energy they put into doing your job.”

Every time we manage to figure out a way to “work smarter” and manage to fulfill some silly mandate coming down from above, the powers that be decide that since we haven’t folded yet, we must not have enough to do… so they dump something else on us to justify their positions.

The amount of time wasted, on petty tasks that do nothing to enhance the learning of children but make someone higher up look good on paper, is astounding.

Amen… Amen… Amen!