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

Teacher2

January 21st, 2012
4:21 pm

@ cris

“I 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….”

Too funny!

Teacher2

January 21st, 2012
4:29 pm

To All,

Please don’t feed the “Good” Mother troll.

Long time educator

January 21st, 2012
4:30 pm

I think what you are hearing on this blog is that teacher’s funding has been cut to the bone. Almost no supply money, furlough days and increased class sizes are our reality. We are also starting a new training on the new CCGPS with money spent on trainers, materials, coaches, ad nauseum. Please stop beating the teachers; the ones with the decision making ability and ALL the money are administrators. The worst and most out of touch are at the central offices. They are still buying IPads, traveling and having multiple secretaries to do their work. This is where cuts need to happen. I work for a small-medium district and I know of at least 5 highly paid directors we would never miss if they were cut.

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
4:45 pm

Maureen – you should interview Herb Garrett on a regular basis. I’ve heard him speak on two different occasions. He is smart, articulate, and has a innate ability to cut to the chase.

His voice on this blog would be a welcomed addition to the conversation.

Lee

January 21st, 2012
4:47 pm

“There is nothing left to cut that does not interfere with our ability to give children the best education possible.”

The head football coach at our local high school makes $96,000/yr. Start there.

Looking through the wage and salary report, I see numerous teachers making $80k+. Now, if you were to go to any high performing private school, I guarantee you that none of the teachers are making that kind of money. The entire salary matrix of [Years of services x degree] needs to be revamped. As a parent and taxpayer, I would much rather see a teacher and two parapros in the classroom than a high salaried, narcistic “Doctor” who got her degree through an on-line diploma mill.

Paying more does not always mean you get better quality. It often simply means you paid more.

Still want to continue with this “…there’s nothing left to cut…” mantra?
————————————–

Here’s a question for you. What does more harm:

Budget cuts
–or–
Passing students from grade to grade and graduating illiterates?

sloboffthestreet

January 21st, 2012
4:52 pm

teacher&mom

Well little miss fancy pants! Who watched your little angels? Or did you stop teaching for years until they were all in school? Or did you pay daycare for every one of your children until they entered K.? The question is if you chose to send them to pre-k would they have been provided a seat in class? My comment was every teachers child attended pre-K while students who needed the services got nothing. The response was to a very important question. Why not have two 1/2 day session for pre-k. My answer was the correct one IMHO. So teachers can use it for daycare. Also teachers where I live are allowed to have their children attend school where they teach. This eliminates before/aftercare costs for the educator. Their children stay in their classes until the bell rings ignoring their students needs and instead concentrating their efforts on their own child. I have watched day after day a teacher helping her child with her homework before class and then signing her agenda. Seems to me the teachers kid should have homework done the night before to set a proper example for the rest of the students? Also when your sweetheart enters K you have no daycare costs period. Teachers fail to realize the financial burden so many face with daycare as it does not pertain to them. Seems to me what we have here is a “LUCKY GIRL.”

chris,

You sure have that teacher thing going on telling people what to do. Hey sissy, this ain’t kickball so I think I’m holding on to it against your superior advice. Thanks anyway?

Drake wrote

January 21st, 2012
3:16 pm

“But we sure know who to scapegoat when someone fails!”

Dear Drake, I don’t care if my child fails a test. What I do expect is that it is brought to my attention so I can reteach what information was not absorbed. And that day would be the proper time to bring it to my attention. Not 3 weeks later. That is what agendas are for. Aren’t they? Or are they simply more busy work for teachers and parents mandating they sign them daily and nothing more?

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
4:58 pm

@Lee: How certain are you that the teachers making 80K aren’t performing extra duties?

We have a few teachers in our system that make close to that amount. However, they are in charge of an after school program and an extended summer program. During the school year their hours are 7:30 AM to 7:00 PM. During the summer, they work from 7:30 – 5 PM for an additional four weeks.

btw: The data is showing that the students in these programs are benefitting from the additional support. Given the growth shown by these students, I don’t begrudge the expense of paying these teachers. This is an example of money actually making it to the classroom level and positively impacting student achievement.

teacher&mom

January 21st, 2012
5:08 pm

@slob: “Well little miss fancy pants! Who watched your little angels?”

Read my 4:16 post.

(The fancy pants comment is hilarious btw….since I’m currently slobbing around in my teenage son’s sweatpants. There are holes in places that could get me arrested if I stepped outside ;)

“The question is if you chose to send them to pre-k would they have been provided a seat in class”

Only if my name were next on the list of available slots. A certain number are saved for low-income families. After those slots are filled, any available vacancies are filled on a first-come-first-served bases. Since transportation to and from pre-K must be provided by the parents, many low-income parents either can’t or won’t take advantage of the program.

Your hatred of teachers runs deep doesn’t it?

Former Middle School Teacher

January 21st, 2012
5:11 pm

I would be curious to know how many of our legislators put their children in public school? I bet less than 50% and that is probably too high. The truth is they just don’t care.

Gabrielle

January 21st, 2012
5:36 pm

Of course the students that are hungry do not care about Old English literature or any literature when they are hungry. I find it interesting though that the teacher stated a form of literature that is obsolete in today’s modern world. When education and educators realize that great relationships with students, strong rigor in academics and relevance in all things taught equals success, no learning will take place. Where is the relevance of Beowulf in today’s society when student’s are engaged in a technological world? We stop students from using technology but it should be used as a vehicle to learning and it has relevance in today’s world. We also need to begin teaching students REAL-LIFE SKILLS that will assist them in obtaining employment. Elderly people are going back to Technical Colleges to acquire these skills, so why aren’t we teaching them in high school. STOP with the non-relevant readings and begin reading on a higher lexile-level: Non Fiction and Technical Reading. This will assuredly add up to success and also peak the interest of today’s students. Also, use veteran teachers to train new teachers and save funding. Why do we need a Chairperson? Why do we need Professional Development? Show me the data that either is effective but is very costly. Eliminate the waste. Feed the children. Cut the waste and pay the teachers what they deserve. WE NEED TO CHANGE THE PARADIGM OF EDUCATION BECAUSE WE ARE TEACHING LIKE TEACHERS DID IN THE 1960’s. Change is good when it is data driven and effective.

Roberta

January 21st, 2012
5:42 pm

Slob, I am sorry to burst your bubble. First of all, I taught preK in another state for nearly 20 years. The AM/PM classes allowed for more children to be served. A bonus: teachers worked a 40 hour week. I made $24,000 a year, not some obscene amount. As for my grandson, his mom and dad work. Georgia preK is by lottery and not by need. And if this WAS by need, he would qualify. he is nearly blind in one eye, and has severe speech problems. He is also 5, (late birthday). so this is NOT day care for us.

d

January 21st, 2012
5:51 pm

I just wonder what someone would say in response to putting teachers in a 401(k) like private sector employees instead of TRS….. when I contribute a higher portion of my salary to TRS (and not by choice either) than I did to my 401(k) when I was in the private sector…. oh, and don’t forget, many companies also match 401(k) contributions…. so does the state/local system for TRS. Just changing the system isn’t going to save the state any money, nor is it going to increase the amount teachers already have to pay into their own retirements. The benefits aren’t nearly as great as some people would like to try to make other people believe.

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

January 21st, 2012
6:06 pm

@Gabrielle “Where is the relevance of Beowulf in today’s society when student’s are engaged in a technological world? ”

Ouch. What a sad commentary on today’s “technological” world. What is the relevance of The Nutcracker ballet? Of the Mona Lisa? Of Aristotle? Beethoven? Thomas Aquinas? Shakespeare? Durer? Plato? Sun Tzu?

A world without art? Without philosophy? Without beauty? Filled with well trained automations fed a diet of non-fiction and technical reading? How utterly dreary! Non-fiction and technical writing certainly have their place. Learning to read such text successfully is an important skill that is often overlooked in school. And certainly work place skills need to be supported and taught, but not at the expense of everything that makes us more than mere automations!

HS Public Teacher

January 21st, 2012
6:06 pm

@Teacher2 – AMEN!!!!

Dekalbite@Lee

January 21st, 2012
6:16 pm

“Looking through the wage and salary report, I see numerous teachers making $80k+.”

@ Lee

Your comment is not what the data shows. The real time data is available for anyone who wants to take the time to research it.

Looking at grade level and content area teachers (K – 12) who are the teachers that teach math, language arts, science, and social studies (i.e. the content and skills that students actually come to school to learn and the reason schools exist):

3.6% of APS teachers make $80,000 or above
1% of DeKalb teachers make $80,000 or above
1.4% of Fulton teachers make $80,000 or above
.03% of Clayton teachers make $80,000 or above
1% of Decatur City teachers make $80,000 or above
.01% of Gwinnett teachers make $80,000 or above
1% of Marietta City teachers make $80,000 or above
1% of Rockdale teachers make $80,000 or above
.04% of Forsyth teachers make $80,000 or above

The employees who are responsible for student progress and under the new guidelines will be paid for student performance are not the ones commanding these high salaries.

If you tell me the local school system that serves your neighborhood, I’ll calculate these percentages. Or if you want to spend the time to really understand the data, I’ll tell you how I calculated it so you can calculate it for yourself.

Beverly Fraud

January 21st, 2012
6:20 pm

You can do more with less if…

You are willing to EMPOWER teachers to hold STUDENTS accountable for work AND behavior.

But we aren’t willing to do that, are we?

cobbmom/teacher

January 21st, 2012
7:04 pm

Due to paycuts and increased insurance costs what the Cobb County website says they pay me is $10,000 more than I actually receive. They have never changed the chart in order to lure people to the county. While my salary has decreased the new superintendent gave his personal cabinet each an average $8,000 pay raise. Mr. Hinojosa’s salary is well over $200,000 and area superintendents each make over $100,000. None of these people have had salary decreases. Meanwhile classroom funding has been decreased, we are doing without hand sanitizer and anti-bacterial wipes in my classroom because I can’t pay for them and I’m not asking parents to provide them.

Our school board, who continue to make the news for acting like toddlers having tantrums, has just announced that due to budget deficits we will lose 500 teachers and 5 school days for the 2012-13 school year, class size will be increased by 2 more students and teacher pay raises will be suspended. I have children in the system and would rather pay the additional $12 a year in property taxes than have two more children in my own child’s classes taking even more attention from my child. It’s apalling that parents would rather save $12 a year (less than they spend at Starbucks in a week) than have more individual attention for their child and a full school year. They will pay more for that extra week of daycare than a raise in their millage rate would be.

Ron

January 21st, 2012
7:16 pm

As a middle grades teacher, I take issue with Mr. McCarthy on two points: First, the classroom setting and activities are nowhere near 1985’s classroom. Look at how the curriculum (such as PreAlgebra) has been pushed down to middle grades, where as in the 1980s, it was the domain of high school.

The other concern is the assumption that technology is “essential.” Baloney! We have been brainwashed to believe we must have it, and the newer the better. Never mind that what may have been working well already, is suddenly changed. This has created a HUGE BURDEN on teachers and administrators trying to keep up with technology. Just because kids are using all these gadgets doesn’t mean that will improve learning. Remember, kids learned the 3r’s long before the computer age.

Mac

January 21st, 2012
7:19 pm

Coleman is being a bit disingenuous. We elect these people to be leaders. They should do what is right and what is needed to fund the schools no matter if it threatens their reelection or not. If they don’t get reelected for doing what is right then hopefully the next person elected will also do so and so on. This cycle of weak willed legislative career ‘leaders’ has to end.

ScienceTeacher671

January 21st, 2012
7:24 pm

Ron, I don’t know about you, but back in the late 1960s, I took pre-algebra in the 8th grade, and Algebra in 9th. And yes, this was in a small public school in a little podunk town.

Ron

January 21st, 2012
7:47 pm

@Science, I agree with you, and yes, PreAlgebra was taught in the 8th grade back then. But today’s PreAlgebra is significantly more involved and has been pushed down to the 6th grade. There is new terminology and different approaches to problem-solving. Not only PreAlgebra, but there’s still increasing complexity at younger ages for numbers operations, measurement, geometry, etc. All I’m trying to say is that the curriculum has NOT been dumbed-down, as people are apt to say. Piaget’s research kids in the middle grades are not cognitively ready for abstract math and reasoning. Yet, we push this on them.

bootney farnsworth

January 21st, 2012
7:52 pm

simple fact is, we’re doing more with much less in the classroom and support areas, and its only gonna get worse.

morons on both the left and right use education for political points only. the vast majority of the legislators have no clue what they’re doing, but act anyway. and far to many of them aren’t smart enough to hold a garbage can without instructions.

worse still, society had dumped on us the roll of babysitter. and God
help us if we actually try to teach the little darlings something

bootney farnsworth

January 21st, 2012
7:56 pm

the problem is not the amount of dollars nearly as much as the crap most of the dollars are spent on. already bloated administrations get bigger and bigger daily. and technology we don’t need gets forced on
us constantly.

bootney farnsworth

January 21st, 2012
7:58 pm

@ Ron

while I think technology is more necessary than you may realise – it is the world the kids live in- I strongly agree we spend way too much money on technology we don’t need.

bootney farnsworth

January 21st, 2012
7:59 pm

oh, and God help you if you ever try asking questions.
the machine will eat you alive.

bootney farnsworth

January 21st, 2012
8:02 pm

and I’m not willing to give these fools one more dime from the public funds until they prove they can effectively use what they have already.

WAR

January 21st, 2012
8:33 pm

scienceteacher671

i think the quote is from richard attenborough.

Roberta

January 21st, 2012
8:53 pm

Ron, good points. I would prefer to babysit my grandson while parents work, and homeschool vs sending him to preK. However, in our district the Kindergarteners are expected to write sentences by Spring! The oldest came home with homework in which she was expected to write three ‘imperative sentences’! A child this age is not developmentally ready to do such writing work. Let alone, she is expected to read / read to 50 books over the school year. Her days were filled with worksheets and writing. Science was barely explored over the year. I do see curriculum not matching readiness, nor does much of the day lead to exploring the world and asking questions. I feel pressured to send him to preK just so he gets an idea of a ’school day’ without the assessments and grades.

Teacher2

January 21st, 2012
9:18 pm

@Roberta

You are right in regarding to the writing aspect of kindergarten. Most school systems require students to write a story on one topic which is comprised of 4-5 sentences independently in 3 different genres (narrative, persuasive and response to literature). Kindergarteners must also be able to read independently, add and subtract. I have found for many students, if kindergarten is their first exposure to school they will likely struggle with the academic and social expectation of kindergarten.

Teacher2

January 21st, 2012
9:21 pm

@Roberta

In addition, you are also correct that the emphasis on writing, reading and math is done at the expense of science and social studies. I agree that some of the concepts are developmentally inappropriate but I have found that to be the case in many concepts being taught from kindergarten to 8th grade.

Lester Maddux

January 21st, 2012
10:55 pm

Parent: Dr. Avossa of Fulton County Schools Off Course
Fulton superintendent of schools criticized for his comments, actions over Fulton Science Academy.
http://sandysprings.patch.com/articles/dr-avossa-of-fulton-county-schools-off-course-f370e748

In a few short months Dr. Avossa has accomplished what no other Superintendent has done nationwide —  

He has denied a charter for the only nationally acclaimed school in his district.

He has denied a charter for the top Math and Science school in Fulton County and one that ranks in the top 5 in the state.

He has belittled the efforts of the parents, students, faculty, and staff saying in public forums including Rotary and Community Meetings that this Nationally Ranked and Award Wining school is not special and in fact is just average and mediocre.

He has refused to participate in mediation that was requested by the State Board of Education, Leading Legislators, and Business Leaders.

He has caused investors to not only question their $19 million investment in the Alpharetta community but also question future investments in the State of Georgia and nationally in education.

He has on numerous occasions through his actions and words told elected officials and representatives of the people of the State of Georgia  that he knows what is best and that they should keep their opinions to themselves.

All because this newly minted Dr. of Education knows better and is smarter than us all.

ScienceTeacher671

January 21st, 2012
11:15 pm

WAR, when I worked in industry it was one of those “motivational posters” we had up on the wall right next to the one that said “I think I am a mushroom because they keep me in the dark and feed me BS”

ScienceTeacher671

January 21st, 2012
11:25 pm

Ron, I think one of the major problems is the disdain of “drill and kill” in the elementary grades. (Funny how when a child is learning to, for instance, play a sport or a musical instrument, we call it “practice” and insist that it’s necessary to improve.) Students are expected to learn the more advanced concepts but not to master the basics.

I agree that it’s beyond the developmental stages of some children. On the other hand, I have a young relative who grew up in another state, took Algebra I in 7th grade and excelled, and now works for NASA. The students who are able ought to be able to move ahead rather than being stuck in a one-size-fits-all curriculum.

abacus2

January 21st, 2012
11:52 pm

Long time educator – do you happen to work in Fayette County? We could easily cut half our county office staff and not miss a beat. Then maybe we wouldn’t have to rely on the kids buying ice cream at lunch to buy basic supplies like paper. We ‘ll have furlough days again next year, and the class sizes will get even larger. I may have to create double-decker desks because there’s no way I could cram another desk in my room.

HS Public Teacher

January 22nd, 2012
12:33 am

@Lester Maddux –

You are in great need og medication and a dose of reality.

First, this charter school reapplied on their own terms and refused to work with anyone to conform to the standards of other charter schools. They demanded to do whatever the heck THEY wanted. They wanted an extended time frame that was unreasonable.

Then, their financial books were not in order. If you want to talk about arrogant, then think about these folks. They did not even want to work to strighten out their own financial books.

They just went straight to “public opinion” and touted their national award as if to say, “see what we did and now they won’t let us do anything that we want.”

Get real.

georgebiggs

January 22nd, 2012
3:38 am

I too was very skeptical before entering into an online program from a High Speed Universities but have been very surprised at how much I have learned. They offers a wide variety of learning resources and very comprehensive study guides in all of their courses.

Dr. Craig Spinks/Georgians for Educational Excellence

January 22nd, 2012
4:19 am

Mr. Garrett,

Speaking of money spent on public education in our state, when’s the last time that competent, out-of-state, forensic auditors came into our GDOE and each of our 180 local education agencies and scrutinized the efficacy with which the billions of dollars these agencies receive annually are being spent?

Prove to me that your lobby’s members are efficiently spending the money they receive before you ask me and other GA taxpayers for more.

Long time educator

January 22nd, 2012
6:46 am

abacus2,
I don’t work in Fayette, but what we are saying about the bloat in central offices is true across the state. Bootney Farnsworth says no more tax money until the fools use what they have efficiently. I don’t disagree with him, but the CO folks are making NO cuts on their end and continuing to cut in the classroom which is where the students are. If the whole CO was cut, the students would barely be affected. Teachers need help from the public on this issue. We cannot complain to the school board without risking our jobs. The public needs to raise this issue and look at the salaries and waste. I also agree that technology like smart boards is expensive and over-rated, In elementary we need smaller classrooms, mores hands on deck (parapros) and a stable curriculum. Everytime the curriculum is tweaked, money is wasted on more training, consultants, and curriculum materials. Plus, there is always a learning curve for teachers which has a negative effect on student achievement. Teachers in the classroom are powerless to make more efficient use of the money the taxpayers give education. They never see it.

dteacher

January 22nd, 2012
7:35 am

Marueen,

I wish the AJC would run a series of stories about the proliferation of education degrees, especially the on-line ones, and the increase in public school systems’ administrative staff. We are paying teachers more for these education “degrees” and paying more people working out of school, yet we aren’t getting the results.

As a DCSS teacher of fifteen years who has seen a stagnant salary, increased insurance premiums, and more work (as the result of larger classes, ineffective data systems, and ineffective mandates), I ‘m not sure I could ask any taxpayer to pay more money until we see more effective spending (Don’t we have an audit to prove what most of us already know-too much money is being spent on peple oustide the building).

Also, I would love the AJC to investigate schools systems’ innovative approaches both to saving money and educating children. For example, DCSS can turn its television/media operations to the technology teachers and students; DCSS can turns some of its bus maintenance/mechanics operations over to a mechanics training academy; many of DCSS’s computer teachers and students could do some of the computer maintenance or at least web announcements).

nelson

January 22nd, 2012
8:00 am

Should there be compulsory education? If there should be, should it not be limited to 6th grade? Then if the student wants to leave and join the work force everybody benefits. The schools need less facilities, teachers and the former students are contributing as tax paying citizens. Why harangue government to spend more money on education when a large number of students would rather be someplace else.
90% of the work in the U.S. is unskilled or semiskilled. It requires some training but certainly not 13 years of education.
Not to mention, students with lower grades learn to think of themselves as not quite measuring up to expectations that others have for them.
And ofcourse, neighborhood schools, students go to school where they live. Big expense transporting them out of the area.
I have made my case. Do you agree with me? You do? Good.

Not so much

January 22nd, 2012
8:13 am

Good Mother

Unless you are living in a million dollar house it is unlikely that your property taxes, which are shared between a school system and a county/city government, come close to covering the real costs of educating your child.

If you have more than one child, forget about it.The best private schools in Atlanta charge 20,000 dollars a year. And they still do annual campaigns and capital campaigns. Even the small charge schools charge more than most people pay in property taxes.

I am certainly not saying that money can solve all the problems. It can’t. However, it is time for Southerners, who often brag incessantly about their lower property taxes to take a long look at the correlation between that and the quality of their school system’s education system.

We are fortunate to be able to afford private school as needed. We currently have one in public and one in private. Teacher quality isn’t the main difference. It is resources, class size and student behavior. I also have to say that more and more the way PARENTS behave in schools bothers me as well. I am certain our days are numbered as public school family. It isn’t how I want it to be, but between the mismanagement of our local school system and the crummy funding of education at the state level, this is what is happening.

Fled

January 22nd, 2012
8:14 am

Georgia is rolling right along in its desire to be dead last, and that is not a fraud, Beverly. I sympathize with all my fellow educators in Georgia, but unless you are willing to do something to improve your situation, nothing will change. Ever. That’s the sad truth. I can certainly understand that you feel connected to your community or have family or any number of reasons that you must stay right where you are, physically and psychically. However, the truth is, unless you as a teacher are willing to make some changes, you will only get more of the same. You are not slaves, though republicans want to run the schools like plantations, and you are not bonded to your school or your district or your state or even your country, not these days. The thinking that is keeping many of you teachers in your rut is old thinking. Jonathan Kozol has been pretty articulate in urging teachers to see the field as vast, and I am afraid that many of us see the field as the school or the district where we find ourselves. It’s a shame, but at this point it is really up to you.

When my oldest child was old enough to go to middle school, I knew that I had to take action to get her out of Georgia. I worked in a middle school for one year, and it was pretty close to a prison for teachers and students alike: rigid, controlled, not academic at all. I made a deliberate choice to flee, taking my kids with me. It has been tough, almost overwhelming at times, but my children are getting a world-class education and learning to live in the twenty-first century world that awaits them, much different from the old world we left behind. When they grow up, they will know how to live almost anywhere comfortably: how to get where the getting is good, if you know what I mean.

I find myself in full agreement with those who argue that the school system is woefully antiquated and also that the system is so large and clunky that perhaps it cannot be reformed. I do know from personal experience that there is a definite and prolonged push against excellence in the Fulton system, as education would contravene much of what passes for schooling there. Add in an incompetent Board and hateful, abusive (incapable) administrators, and it is a perfect storm of horror and terror, anything but what it should be—and you all know it.

My heart goes out to my former colleagues who wait and hope that things will get better. I don’t think they will, at least not any time soon. So, the question remains: teachers, had enough yet?

Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

PappyHappy

January 22nd, 2012
8:39 am

Maureen, permit me to rearrange the question:

For decades, we have been giving and spending MORE AND MORE, but GETTING LESS AND LESS from public education. Is it not time for an entirely NEW MODEL FOR PUBLIC EDUCATION, including the type of delivery?

We seem to want to stick to the ‘Little Red School House’ philosophy, but replaced with multi-million dollar construction projects; self serving Board of Education Members; too many teachers with a ‘what is in it for me’ attitude; and parents who are less engaged.

CharterStarter, Too

January 22nd, 2012
8:42 am

@ Public HS Teacher re: FSA,

If their books were not in order, why did they have 10 years of clean audits? Why didn’t the school system step in before 10 years expired to address the matter? Why did the Fulton County School System sign off on state forms required for site selection?

If a request for another 10 years was unreasonable (after 10 proven years of high academic achievement), why was another Fulton County Charter approved for 10 years? Why does the allow for 10 years?

Don’t believe everything you hear from public officials who have every reason to distort the truth. Ask the hard questions and expect reasonable answers.

CharterStarter, Too

January 22nd, 2012
8:43 am

Sorry… Why does the LAW allow 10 years?

sissyuga

January 22nd, 2012
8:59 am

If teachers and children are to be held to high standards in educational achievement, communities must be held to high level of support.

TO Teacher and Mom from Good MOm

January 22nd, 2012
9:00 am

Thanks for your very thoughtful response to my question. I used GA pre-K and paid the $5,000 each for after care for my children.

Even if I didn’t get the benefit of GA funded lottery care, I would advocate putting lottery money and tax dollars there for this reason: It’s the right thing to do to educated poor children. Even if I didn’t care about the right thing to do, I think it is the cheapest way to go — I believe a stitch in time saves nine.
By paying to educate poor children now (Iwhen they are 4) I believe it costs less to society than waiting to pay for remedial help later or a drop-outs cost to society later.

Just curious (and I aplogize for prying) why did you choose a private pre-K over a lottery funded pre-K? I used a private pre-K at age 2 and 3 combined with all the things you’ve mentioned above including a private nanny, a private in home day care, working two jobs (Dad and I both work full time) and the cost was killing us financially. We scraped together whatever we could however we could to ensure our kids were educated from a very early age (2). I wanted to make sure they were ready for kindergarten.

THanks for sharing,
GM

TO Sissyuga from Good MOm

January 22nd, 2012
9:08 am

You said “if teachers and children are to be held to high standards in educational achievement, communities must be held to high level of support.”

What kind of support are you talking about ? Please be specific. What is it that the “community” is not doing that they should be doing?

In my community we are forced to pay outrageous taxes whether we have children or not and whether we send them to public schools or not.

Parents are required to send their children to school on time everyday. THey are literally fined and face jail time if they do not.

So I am not sure what you are talking about. What is it that YOUR community isn’t doing that they should be doing?
Let me give you an example. There is a teacher at my school who does not live in our district. She pays much lower property taxes than we do yet she chooses to put her child in our school. I think that is a pretty darn good benefit — school choice without the tax bill and I agree with it; however, this same teacher never ever ever participates in any fundraising activities or the PTA. She’s never at a meeting, never at the school on the weekends or after school for any activities. When 2:30 rolls around she’s outta there so fast the door wouldn’t stand a chance to hit her in the butt…

…isn’t she also part of the community? Shouldn’t she also at least show up for a fundraiser and do some volunteer work? I think she is like several teachers who feel that the “community support” requirement does not apply to them. Trust me, parents notice when teachers are involved and act like the parent they expect us to be…and when they don’t.

Well said from Good MOm

January 22nd, 2012
9:23 am

“Just because kids are using all these gadgets doesn’t mean that will improve learning. Remember, kids learned the 3r’s long before the computer age.”

I completely agree, I am technologically savvy we don’t need these da@mn prmethean boards. I wish I could throw the darn $1,500 contraptions out the window. THey act ually hinder learning. I witnessed little children struggling to use the electronic pen to write on the board. A marker or a darn piece of chalk would have worked better. A teacher neeps a laptop with access to teh Internet and email. They need a projector to connect to their laptop to show things on the wall. They need a white board and a marker or a chalkboard and chalk. That’s all about $400, not $1,500.

I also am disgusted with computers in the hands of elementary students. They often cut and paste material off the Internet for a book report. They need to read the book and use a piece of paper to write their own thoughts.

HIgh school students need to perform research on the Internet but first they need to learn to use the Dewey Decimal system and go to the library and read several books on a subject and then form an opinion and write it on paper.

Research involves thoughtful and careful analysis and you cannot get that kind of information off of an Internet site with two to three page opinion writers.

…and please remember, math students make great programmers. Philosophy students do too. Learning how to type on a keyboard does not give anyone an advantage to anyone when it comes to technology jobs.

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

January 22nd, 2012
10:21 am

@Good Mom “There is a teacher at my school who does not live in our district. She pays much lower property taxes than we do yet she chooses to put her child in our school. ”

Just thought I would point out that the teacher may well be paying additional costs for having her child in her school if she lives out of district. Our district does allow out of district teachers to bring their children to their school 1. *If* there are enough slots available and the school is not overcrowded, and 2. *if* the teacher pays several thousand dollars to make up the tax differences between districts.

I would not just assume she is getting this “benefit” unless you are certain about the situation.

As to her leaving at 2:30 – if that is when her contracted hours end, it is her right to do so. I personally have never figured out how some teachers manage this, since I simply could not do my job without putting in several additional “off the clock” hours each week. However, if she can do so, kudoes to her I guess.

The non-participation does bother me, because that makes the burden on other teachers and parents who *do* participate even greater.

However, situations like this really come down to administration. If the”boss” doesn’t want to bother rocking the boat by requring more participation on the part of the teacher, it is hard to get anything done about it. I will say, complaints from parents go a lot father than complaints from fellow teachers. Bad blood between teachers can poison a whole school and have a detrimental effect upon the students.