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!

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.

Mountain Teacher

January 22nd, 2012
10:39 am

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I would love to see Pre-K become mainstreamed into the state DOE simply because we Pre-K teachers provide the foundation that ALL students need by the time they get to Kindergarten. They hit the ground running on the first day of Kindergarten, and those who have not had the advantage of the preliminary year of Pre-K often have to deal with additional issues that Pre-K kids don’t. These include separation anxiety (being away from mom or grandma for the first time), expectations for school behavior (walking in line, quiet in the halls, school schedules/rules, etc.), social interactions (work and play well with others), not to mention the foundations in literacy( how to hold a book/pencil, letters and letter sounds) and math (number recognition, patterns, sorting), to name just a few. These are all things we focus on in Pre-K, believe it or not. The students also work on large and small motor skills and begin to understand about science and social studies concepts. The only difference is that instead of dittos (which are expressly forbidden by Pre-K), our students learn by doing. In other words, what looks like “play” to you is actually learning to a 4-year-old, especially with guidance and support by a caring Pre-K teacher who is trained to identify such “play” as learning. We keep anecdotal notes, photographs, and work samples in an organized on-line system instead of endlessly testing our kids. Our approach in Pre-K is flexible, but structured at the same time. We also become the foundation for understanding and speaking English for many non-English speakers, and we also can identify possible speech and developmental delays and refer them as needed. Because we are more flexible, we can spend more time reassuring a child who is upset from being away from home, or who is having an issue of some kind (home, bus, etc.). My assistant and I are very protective of our 22 little charges and we take every child’s need very seriously. This is their first experience (and for many, their parents’ first) with school, and we want it to be as good as possible. Pre-K is a good transition from home to school — going from the relaxed atmosphere of home or day care to the regimen of Kindergarten — by learning in a flexible, structured environment where rules and routines are important, but we can also take time for other things.

Instead of only being provided to “X” number of students every year, Pre-K should be available for every 4-year-old.

Now & Then

January 22nd, 2012
10:51 am

Only students who qualify have the option of attending high school after 8th grade…remaining students attend vocational school. Eliminate all none essential courses…sports, band, foreign language etc, which will greatly reduce high school size, students who utilize school buses must pay something…..I realize all additional courses make for a “well-rounded” student…we can no longer fund the full deal. Eliminate all charter schools, parents wanting special training/education for their children can send them to private school, if they can afford it…not put the extra cost on tax payers. Greatly reduce the funding of special education, collectively we spend a fortune in this area. I’ll agree that all of these things I’ve suggested to eliminate are wonderful things to offer young people, however, when money is tight….

Pre K

January 22nd, 2012
11:01 am

I agree with Mountain Teacher concerning the importance of Pre K. Why couldn’t that age student be classified as a 1st grader…still offer 12 grades…but not require 13 years as now? Only offer the 12th-13th year to students wishing to attend college and needing those upper-level courses. Why can’t we streamline schools down to 11 or 12 years….that would save real money.

Nikole

January 22nd, 2012
11:20 am

Off Topic: I teach 1st grade and I LOVE! my promethean board. It has made life 10 times easier and definitely helps me work smarter. That being said, teachers should be asked if they want one. It is such a waste if it’s sitting in non-use.

yes i am worried

January 22nd, 2012
11:27 am

I had such high hopes for Stacy Abrams. However, she along with the majority of the rest of the DeKalb delegation has done nothing to improve education for the children of DeKalb. They had their chance, allow the citizens of DeKalb County to vote on the size of the school board. But she and the rest of her colleagues from S. DeKalb refused to stand up to Howard Mosby, chair of the delegation and boyfriend to Jay Cunningham’s sister, who refused to move forward.

It isn’t just about money in DeKalb. It is about a overly bloated central office full of incompetent friends and family. Throwing all the $$$ in the world at DeKalb schools won’t fix it until the attitudes changes about whether it is an educationprovider or a jobs provider.

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2012
11:46 am

about 8 years ago I came to the (obvious) conclusion that our education system is fatally flawed. it was fixable, but no one wants it fixed.

education in this state -and much of the nation- is right where the electorate and the whores they vote into office want it to be.

we serve a very important socital role, but its not to educate. anybody who learns something is a side effect.

our role: professional whipping boys.

idiot politicans can yell about the mythical teachers unions, rampant PC, and waste of monies.
idiot parents can yell about the ism of the week, and why can’t Johnny read.
idiot business owners can whine about the stupidity of the average grad and how they can’t find good help.

when in fact we are providing them EXACTLY the situtation they want: blame us so they can avoid taking any responsibility for their own failings

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2012
11:47 am

why am I in the filter?

Lynn

January 22nd, 2012
12:02 pm

This “Doing more with Less” is an excuse to justify chairborn leaders who used to do your job years ago their salary and jobs. It is so easy to sit at a desk and come up with what looks good on paper but does not fit the working classroom or any other school program. The programs in the schools wait for support, help and personnel yet I have failed to see a position stay open in the admistration levels. Stop reassigning job titles to get more money in your pockets and start putting your words in action that it is the children that matter. Anyone who does not put a full effort in to our education should be voted out or consider a career change.

abacus2

January 22nd, 2012
12:17 pm

Now & then – I’m with you 100% on moving kids out of school who have no use for it. Bring back vo-tech high schools and apprenticeships. As for special ed, what an enormous waste of money. The teachers spend half their time on paperwork to cover the schools’ backsides because IDEA makes it so easy to sue a school system. IEPs are often used as protection from expulsion due to bad behavior, rather than as an aid to the student. Yes, some students benefit from the extra help, but how can we justify having 2 parapros and a teacher for a child with an IQ of less than 50? (True example)

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2012
12:25 pm

wanna fix education in Georgia?
simple, if you really want to do it-but it’ll hurt

Dr. Bootney’s RX for a healthy education system in Georgia
version 1: the classroom

1-beginning at middle school, end compulsory attendance. lets teach the ones who want to be taught/who’s parents value their education.

2-give us back to power to remove disruptive/dangerous students from school. had to learn when you’re scared for your safety.

3-reintroduce the 10 pt grading system while making them actually work for the grades. primary componant here is reintroducing the F to students who actually earn it.

4-reintroduce common sense to the systems rules. nail clippers should not buy a kid a weeks suspension, nor should the 5 time violent child be allowed back into mainstream education. most of our current policies
and procedures are totally devoid of common sense. let a kid carry cough drops without a doctor’s note.

5-create perks for high achieving students. REAL high achiving students.
give kids incentives to achieve, and not just coast.

6-accept that all kids are not college material, especially in rural counties. provide co op time for non college track students. partner with employers to give kids appropriate and practical real life experiences.

7-stop mainstreaming. it hurts far more than it helps in all directions. it a kid can’t speak english, they don’t need to be in class until they can. if a kid has a major disability which requires undue levels of support, they don’t need to be in regular class.

8-stop with the hypen-whatevers. its AMERICAN history, lit, whatever.
re-write the coursework to reflect it as much.

9-throttle back the technology. it’s important, but we don’t need the
latest and greatest in every classroom. and we’ve got enough to do without having to be constantly learning the latest version of software

10-dump CRCT, NCLB, and every other stupid gov’t mandated testing.

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2012
12:28 pm

hit enter too soon.

10-dump any and all gov’t manditated program required to make the gov’t feel like it’s doing something. CRCT and NCLB are the tip of the iceberg.

Proud Teacher

January 22nd, 2012
12:34 pm

Oh, God, I’m so tired of all those who attempt to make such profound statements about the inability of today’s teachers! Not in touch with today’s youth and technology? Give me a break! What’s the most pitiful part of it all is that the families and parents and didactic punsters are the ones who have no clue what challenges today’s youth face.
If you have a teacher in any school who is not “in touch” with his students, then fire him!

Teachers have been cowed for so long they no longer know how to stand up to the bullies “in charge.”

And while the chaos spirals, the students suffer. That’s the real shame.

Well, maybe the Right Wing will get their way after all: Damn the public schools to hell and march onward to private and charters schools with magic vouchers, and to bloody hell with all those who cannot manage to enter the preferred choice of Republicans.

Pay-your-own-way regardless of the cost will certainly hurt our country in the end. Democracy needs strong public education.

teacher&mom

January 22nd, 2012
12:35 pm

@Good Mom…I chose private over public for several reasons. The main reason? I didn’t want her in full-time pre-K.

I’m a firm believer that parents who read to their children, limit TV time, provide puzzles, art supplies, and music… along with a stable emotional environment, will have a child ready for kindergarten. I’m also a believer in allowing lots of “unstructured play.”

My middle child did not attend any pre-K programs and he managed quite well in kindergarten and beyond. My youngest was very eager to start “school” like her big brothers. The part-time pre K program was a perfect fit for her. Just enough “school” with plenty of time to play and be a happy five year old.

Pre-K is a great program. The teachers work very hard. It just wasn’t necessary for my children.

btw: I also went against the current trend to send children to full-time school at an earlier age. I actually kept my summer birthday child home an extra year. He didn’t start kindergarten until he was 6. It was one of the smartest decisions I ever made as a parent.

teacher&mom

January 22nd, 2012
12:42 pm

@Bootney – “accept that all kids are not college material, especially in rural counties. provide co op time for non college track students”

Ouch… I’m from one of those rural counties and I’m curious as to why you believe “especially kids from rural counties are not college material?”

Does living in the suburbs make you automatically smarter?

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2012
1:05 pm

Dr. Bootney’s RX for a healthy education system in Georgia
version 2: administration

1-require classroom experience before anyone can be in education. at least 5 years for vice principal, 8 years for principal, 10+ to be one of those idiots downtown. if this occasionally means the lords of education must occasionally step down and return to the classroom – gee, what a concept.

2-give us a real advocate to represent us against the system. the recent APS debacle shows how desperately we need someone who can protect us from the abuses of power hungry, imcompetent, vindictive administrators.

3-create a oversight board which includes teachers and support staff to help chart and reign in the goals and abuses administration and politicians.

4-do not allow education administration to create new initatives without a full vetting by the system they report to

5-in lean budget times, funding cuts and freezes begin at the top.

6-if a principal stays at a school more than 5 years, they must teach at
least one course for the sixth year.

7-complaints of ethics violations must be investigated by an independant 3rd party.

8-provide real and worthwhile professional education opportunities for faculty and support staff of more than 5 years of service. even if it means allowing a week off during the school year.

9-no Saturday or evening meetings without a minimum of three weeks warning.

10-when parents complain, unless ample prior evidence to contrary, assume we’re innocent until proven guilty

Mountain Teacher

January 22nd, 2012
1:12 pm

Teacher&mom, I agree. I’m from a small, rural, mountain county myself, and I went to college (Bachelor’s in English, Early Childhood courses in Grad School). I come from a family of teachers, and my two boys are intelligent as well (the younger one taking 9th grade classes as an 8th grader). That said, I do use my mountain speech patterns, words, and phrases at home, but when I am in my professional sphere of influence at school, I use “proper” speech. In addition, I abhor incorrect written grammar and spelling, especially as it pertains to missives sent home by teachers. I am proud of my Appalachian heritage, my Southern accent, and my mountain twang to say the least, but I do also recognize the necessity of using “proper” speech in professional situations.

While I would agree that not all students are “college material,” this assertion is not exclusive to rural counties/areas. Those who are not “college material” may be gifted in different areas that are just as necessary. For instance, I can diagram a sentence with ease or find Biblical allegory in the works of Melville and Hawthorne, but I would have no idea how to repair a computer or a car engine, nor would I be able to install a heating system in my house. These require skills that are just as specialized as is teaching but which require a different skill set that is learned in a different kind of school than the “college” that is often seen as the bastion of intelligence. Just because some folks attend “tech school” and are good with their hands does not mean they are not “college material.”

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2012
1:14 pm

@teacher & Mom,

has nothing to do with intelligence, more to do with interest.
its not possible to be a successful farmer (for example)and be dumb.

and have you seen the level of technology it takes to maintain a car?

most, not all to be sure, but most rural kids I know -I’ve got deep roots in SW Georgia & SE Alabama – have more interest in a non office life than becoming a banker or doctor.

plus, it also has to do with economic reality. in places like Dothan, Bainbridge, Fitzgerald, Irwin, ect there are more opportunites in blue collar occupations than white collar.

also, there is a major fuss these days that the only valid education is a college education. which just isn’t true.

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2012
1:22 pm

@ Now & Then

in a global econcomy, dumping foriegn language would be somewhere between stupid and suicidal. cut back the offerings, sure. eliminate? no.

don’t know about sports, but my kid is in band. and believe me, it is NOT school funded. I pay the kids band expenses to the tune of somewhere around $700 a year.

CharterStarter, Too

January 22nd, 2012
1:26 pm

@ Proud Teacher,

I agree on many of your points re: teachers.

Please know that charters ARE public schools. They are a good choice for SOME children and educators, but the traditional public school setting is a good place for others. It does not have to be either/or…we can take the best of both and improve public education together. But we must respect the work and commitment of one another. We both have the same goals, and that is to provide the best education possible for students.

I’m glad to know you’re a proud public school teacher. I am, too. :)

bootney farnsworth

January 22nd, 2012
1:28 pm

repost for effect.

all kids are NOT college material.

rural, urban, suburban, inner city, polagimist mormon
compounds, where ever.

doesn’t mean they’re dumb, just not college material
for whatever reason.

accept it. live with it. deal with it.
and give them the best possible education to help them on their way.

Mary Elizabeth

January 22nd, 2012
1:38 pm

@ CharterStarter,Too, 2:57 pm, 1/21/12

“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.”

“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.”
=============================================

One of the main ways that public charter schools can serve the best interests of all of Georgia’s students and serve public education, in general, is to develop effective models for individualizing instruction.

This is vitally needed because students, throughout Georgia, within every grade level, within every curriculum area, are actually functioning on many different instructional (grade) levels within their assigned grade level. This wide dichotomy between students’ grade level placement and their actual instructional, functioning level is causing failure in public schools, and failure to show excellent statewide test results – even with excellent statewide, mandated standards.

See the following link to understand, more fully, the reasons for this dichotomy, and for effective suggestions for eliminating this major educational problem:

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

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

In addition -

To improve public education in Georgia, rather than to dismantle it, we cannot support movements to exclude public school teachers from the Teacher Retirement System of Georgia.

The public should be aware that House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones’ HB 664, states, as its leading purpose, the following:

“(T)o provide that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission may elect to exclude all teachers in a commission charter school from membership in the Teachers Retirement System of Georgia.”

CharterStarter, Too

January 22nd, 2012
1:40 pm

Maureen, the legislature has a committee studying QBE. How much impact do you think this group will have on addressing issues such as adequacy, equity, etc.? I hear over and over the need for flexibility for districts with spending. I’m a big proponent of flexibility…coupled with accountability… Accountability for direct impact on student programming and instructional resources, fiscal stewardship, and academic outcomes. I have heard nothing about accountability in the conversations.

CharterStarter, Too

January 22nd, 2012
1:48 pm

@ Mary Elizabeth,

A great many charters focus heavily on differentiation and rigorous and relevant instruction. I encourage you to read some petitions – I think you’d be pleased. I do agree with your point.

I believe the point on retirement is not to deny public school teachers in charters retirement benefits, but rather to open up the options for retirement benefits. TRS is just fine, but there are other investment options. ALL teachers should have choice in how they plan for retirement is my view.

Mary Elizabeth

January 22nd, 2012
2:27 pm

@ CharterStarter, Too @ 11:48

I am glad that you agree with my emphasis on the need for individualizing instruction to address the actual functioning level of each student. However, the basic intent in my 1:38 pm post was to highlight the need of communication/coordination between public charter schools and other public schools, so that mainstream public schools can better incorporate some of the individualized, innovative approaches, as practiced in some public charter schools – presently as well as in the future.

In terms of your comment that “I believe the point on retirement is not to deny public school teachers in charters retirement benefits, but rather to open up the options for retirement benefits,” I would urge you to look more closely at the actual language in HB 664.

The word “exclude” is used in HB 664. That word, “exclude,” allows for the possibility that teacher choice (which you support) may be denied them. HB 664 assigns to the Georgia Charter School Commission, not to teachers, the right to exclude commission charter teachers from the TRS.

Here is the actual language of the HB 664, again, “. . .Georgia Charter Schools Commission may elect to exclude all teachers in a commission charter school from membership in the. . . (TRS)”

Mary Elizabeth

January 22nd, 2012
2:30 pm

Correction: My last post was addressed to CharterStarter,Too’s remarks at 1:48 pm, not 11:48.

HS Math Teacher

January 22nd, 2012
2:51 pm

The only politicians I’ve seen with the courage to raise taxes to get sufficient revenues are local county commissioners. In the conservative mindset, local governments know their needs best, and how to allocate resources; however, not all counties have the industrial base and collective wealth to ease the burdens that must be shouldered to raise revenue to keep schools operating properly. I do believe that we should cut waste before there’s any talk of increasing taxes; however, when that knife starts making that funny noise when it gets to the bone, put taxes on the table.

I don’t think that we can depend on the federal government to remedy our educational ills, monetarily or otherwise. The buck stops at the state level. State political leaders are quick to meddle with education and to come up with short-sighted proposals to hold teachers more accountable, and to hopefully make a name for themselves. With education being the largest slice of the budget pie, they are also quick to gut spending. As has been mentioned on here, Perdue was slashing education spending when the economy was relatively good. Now, schools and local governments are left to fend on their own, while expecting them to consistently get better at educating our kids. That is not going to happen over the long run as long as classrooms are overcrowded. Increasing class sizes is where I draw the line.

Cut my salary, cut my planning time, add to my duties, cut my classroom supplies allowances, but don’t go pouring more and more kids in my room, all at varying grade levels, and expect me to teach them the one-size-fits all curriculum.

gail

January 22nd, 2012
2:54 pm

I have been teaching for over 25 years. Yes, teaching is not an occupation to be in for the money. But I stay because I see students learning to read and loving to come to school. Their like my children because I teach the morals and respect along with education. I know education will never be perfect but someone has to love these children and try to make a difference in their lives. It is just what it is and I make the best of it each day for the kids. Proud to be a teacher!!!

teacher&mom

January 22nd, 2012
3:12 pm

Bootney – I agree a college degree isn’t for everyone but….there are too many rural students who do not go into ANY post secondary options. Half of the battle is getting the students to BELIEVE they are smart enough to swim in a bigger pond.

To break the cycle of poverty, these kids must remove themselves from their familiar surroundings and strike out on their own for a period of time. While the college degree or post secondary training may or may not lend itself to a specific job back home. it will help them break the cycle.

These kids need a broader perspective and deserve the challenge that post secondary options will provide.

Prof

January 22nd, 2012
3:30 pm

@ CharterStarter, Too, Jan. 22, 1:48 pm. HB 664 not only specifies that the Georgia Charter Schools Commission may elect to exclude charter school, teachers from TRS, but also “may make an irrevocable election to exclude public school employees from membership in the Public School Employees Retirement Fund.” In fact, this House Bill does not provide for employee/employer contributions to ANY retirement fund.

Its retirement program evidently is intended to be Social Security. I suppose one could consider that to be a “choice” of “retirement options.”

Mary Elizabeth, I wish to thank you for alerting us to this House Bill on the earlier blog-thread here of Jan. 17, “Education Finance Officer: ‘State is systematically starving our schools.’” And as you point out there, this issue may involve more than just the present charter schools, for the AJC has reported that some are thinking of making Fulton County schools into charter schools.

Read proposed HB 664 for yourselves:
http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/Display/20112012/HB/664

CharterStarter, Too

January 22nd, 2012
3:39 pm

@ ME, thanks for clarifying. And I agree.

As for the Commission deciding (or any other authorizer), that would be based on the request in the charter related to compensation package the charter would offer. Teachers desiring to work in the charter sector could have some decision making as they contemplate if the compensation package (including retirement) at a given charter is right for them.

I am enjoying the conversation. :)

Prof

January 22nd, 2012
4:00 pm

@ CharterStarter, Too, 3:39 pm. But doesn’t it seem to you that, if passed, this House Bill 664 could have a devastating effect on the ability of charter schools to recruit good teachers? Yes, the teachers would “have some decision making,” for they could decide not to teach in the charter school. As the Bill now reads, it would be the Commission that decides on the retirement program for charter school teachers, not the school and certainly not the teachers. There’s nothing in it requiring the Commission to follow the charter school’s request.

I suppose that it’s one way of cutting state educational costs—reduce its pension obligations to its public school teachers.

Mary Elizabeth

January 22nd, 2012
5:55 pm

Prof @ 4:00 pm

“I suppose that it’s one way of cutting state educational costs—reduce its pension obligations to its public school teachers.”
————————————————-

. . .as well as to reduce its pension obligations to retired public school employees, as you mentioned in your 3:30 pm post, Prof.

And, just as the state of Georgia may have reduced the cost of its healthcare delivery to all of Georgia’s retired state employees – including retired public school teachers – when it switched all retired state employees to Medicare Advantage from regular Medicare.

The public needs to be, especially, aware today that “You get what you pay for.” Education, and public services in general, may further erode in Georgia, with Georgia’s present political leadership.

CharterStarter, Too

January 22nd, 2012
6:07 pm

@ Prof,

I understand your point, but I am not sure there is any correlation between the retirement plan offered and the quality of a teacher. But to your point, attracting quality teachers is an issue that charters would need to contemplate. A good authorizer will look to ensure that a comprehensive compensation package has been considered in the HR section of the charter. The long and the short of it though is whatever the retirement plan, and whatever the teachers hired, the academic outcomes have to be there for the charter to stay open. Self checking mechanism.

Not a fan of ED

January 22nd, 2012
6:47 pm

Clayton’s board is at odds because of Ed Heatley. He needs to go immediately. According to him, we had no money, yet he hired his wife as a parent liaison at Lovejoy High School. He is making six figures. Why wasn’t that job “created” for someone who really needs it. Interesting that the chair and the vice chair are both… you get the picture.

Mary Elizabeth

January 22nd, 2012
7:03 pm

For Prof,

I thought you might be interested in the following post, which was posted today on Kyle Wingfield’s blog at 1:02 pm from a “Dennis.” I think Dennis gave a wise, cautionary warning to all public school teachers. Here is a cut and paste of Dennis’ remarks:
==============================================
Dennis
January 22nd, 2012
1:02 pm

You folks with Georgia Teacher Retirement and Georgia State Retirement systems better keep your eyes on this “Venture Capital’ thing.

It’s your retirement money (the source of that “Venture Capital”) that’s at risk.

And you won’t see a dime of any return on it.

Venture Capital, as a way of increasing retirement funds, is dead.

If a lending institution will not take a risk on “investments”, why should your money be risked?
====================================

Also, Prof, I will be in further contact with you, if the issues we have discussed on this blog become more pressing. Thank you for your communication.

Prof

January 22nd, 2012
7:18 pm

@ CharterStarter, Too, 6:07 pm. “I understand your point, but I am not sure there is any correlation between the retirement plan offered and the quality of a teacher.”

A teacher most likely will not agree to work for a school that cannot offer some sort of matching funds for a retirement plan, whether with TRS, the Public School Employees Retirement Fund, or a private 401(k). What the charter school would have to offer in its compensation package would be far less than a regular public school could offer.

And by the way, this House Bill could also damage TRS and the Public School Employees Fund, since there would be fewer teachers/schools to contribute to them… as Mary Elizabeth has also pointed out on the Jan. 17 blog-thread.

Prof

January 22nd, 2012
8:03 pm

@ Mary Elizabeth, Jan. 22, 7:03 pm. I have just explored your earlier tip that House Bill 664 could affect more than just the present charter schools, since Fulton County has been considering the option of choosing to convert its present public schools to charter schools. Indeed, you were right. An AJC news article of Dec. 16, 2010 (”Fulton could become biggest charter school system”) reported that in that year Fulton County began examining this option, and that its local school board and the state BOE would decide in 2013.

So if H.B. 664 is approved, ALL of these schools could be affected. This in turn could substantially diminish the membership in the Teachers Retirement System and the Public School Employees Fund.

As a USG professor, I am a member of TRS. I think it time for me to notify colleagues, departments, and the Senate of my University, as well as colleagues I know at other USG schools, of the significance of this impending bill. Thank you for alerting us all.

teacher&mom

January 22nd, 2012
8:11 pm

@Prof and Mary Elizabeth: Wasn’t there a deadline set for every school system to declare charter status, IE4, or “status quo” by June 30, 2013?

The Gail from Good Mom

January 22nd, 2012
8:13 pm

Loved your comment. Thanks for posting. You and Mary Elizabeth just made my day:

“I know education will never be perfect but someone has to love these children and try to make a difference in their lives. It is just what it is and I make the best of it each day for the kids. Proud to be a teacher!!!”

GM

The Nikole from Good Mom

January 22nd, 2012
8:16 pm

I’m very interested in your comment “Off Topic: I teach 1st grade and I LOVE! my promethean board. It has made life 10 times easier and definitely helps me work smarter.”

Please share with me what you really like about your board. I would love to believe you need it.

The Mountain Teacher from Good Mom

January 22nd, 2012
8:18 pm

Your comment is fantastic. I agree with you 100% because that is exactly my experience with Pre-K.

I wish every Pre-K hater would read your post three times and sit in on a day of Pre-K.

Keep up the good work. I’m delighted.
GM

To Now and Then from Good Mom

January 22nd, 2012
8:22 pm

Dear Lord, you advocate throwing kids out of school at the tender age of 13. What, pray tell, do you think will happen to those undereducated children?

They will become criminals and a huge tax-payer burden or they will become very low wage earners, meaning, they cannot earn enough money to pay taxes or worse, they will have to rely on public assistance to survive.

All that adds up to a great big expense.

It’s simply cheaper to educate people than it is not to educate people…or are you one of those few people who think we should just let poor people starve to death or allow their children to die from the flu, polio, or any other number of commonly prevented and cured diseases because it’s their fault they cannot afford to see the doctor?

To Not so Much from Good Mom

January 22nd, 2012
8:37 pm

What you forget, not so much is that I pay school taxes even when my childen are not in school and for the twenty plus years before they were born. Million dollar house? Nope but with the taxes i pay you would think i would be — and you also forget, I pay an extra sales tax for teh schools and state and federal funds go into paying for those schools too…

…which is all moot when you know, not guess, but know that the money we have now is going to feed corrupt administrators and lying, thieving teachers who changed test scores.

we’re also paying a million dollars a month down here at APS in salaries for the cheating, lying theives who changed test scores. we pay their salaries while they do not work and they wait for a trial and get this…

We APS tax payers are paying for Beverly Hall’s legal fees. That’s right. She is a thief and used a full time policemen as her personal chaffeur…

So don’t come tsk tsk tsking to me about the great bargain I have in the APS school system. The APS board is like a bunch of junkies high on funds. The more we give them the more they stay addicted.

We need to get clean and get rid of those junkies and until you pay my tax bill and see how little I actually have left to live on…you can keep your little lectures to yourself.

Good day,
Good Mom

Prof

January 22nd, 2012
8:58 pm

@ teacher&mom, January 22nd, 8:11 pm. I checked on this, and I also went back to the original blog-dialogue about this on Jan. 17, with a link to the Fulton County Charter option. I don’t know about the other school systems, but yes, Fulton’s is to decide by June, 2013. And I found also a statement by Angela Palm, Director of Legislative Services for the Georgia School Boards Association, informing us that HB 664 would only apply to charters approved by the Commission, but not Fulton’s (if it does choose to convert to charter schools) since their charter schools are approved by its Board of Education.

So I will not rouse the troops quite yet. However, “CharterStarter, Too,” it seems that you should rouse yours in the charter school movement. Ms. Palm also noted that this House Bill was introduced near the end of last year’s legislative session so it got an automatic second reading at the start of this year’s session, and is now before the House Education Committee.

Remember Paul Revere………

To Drake from Good Mom

January 22nd, 2012
8:59 pm

So you called the parents of studens who are apathetic during your planning period and ONE parent said “Oh.” did it occur to you that she was surprised to get your call or that you didn’t offer any solutions or guidance ? If you came up with a plan and asked her to participate maybe that would be better than just “informing” the parent. Offer a solution and come up with a plan together — ask your school counselor for guidance instead of just dialing up a parent and complaining…

What about the other parents? Are you having to call ALL the parents because ALL the kids are apathetic losers?

Your attitude is abundantly clear and maybe it’s time for you to hang it up and find a new profession.

To Drake from Good Mom

January 22nd, 2012
8:59 pm

So you called the parents of studens who are apathetic during your planning period and ONE parent said “Oh.” did it occur to you that she was surprised to get your call or that you didn’t offer any solutions or guidance ? If you came up with a plan and asked her to participate maybe that would be better than just “informing” the parent. Offer a solution and come up with a plan together — ask your school counselor for guidance instead of just dialing up a parent and complaining…

What about the other parents? Are you having to call ALL the parents because ALL the kids are apathetic losers?

Your attitude is abundantly clear and maybe it’s time for you to hang it up and find a new profession.

Mary Elizabeth

January 22nd, 2012
9:09 pm

@Prof, 8:03 pm

I wanted to alert you to what Angela Palm had said on the earlier thread regarding HB 664, before you start to alert others about it. Below is what Angela had said:

“Angela Palm
January 17th, 2012
3:12 pm

@Mary Elizabeth and others concerned about HB 664

“This (bill) would only have applied to Commission charters not to the charters approved by the local board, as Fulton’s are.”
====================================

Nevertheless, possibly excluding even Commission charter school teachers from being members of the TRS could be a first step in later “excluding” many more charter school teachers, and other public school employees, from the TRS and the Public School Employee Retirement Plan. For instance, if later, the langage in a subsequent bill to HB 664 were to include more than Commission charter schools, and included all charter schools, even more teachers of these public charter schools could be “excluded” from TRS, and that could conceivably be all of Fulton County’s Schools, if FCPS converted to charter schools throughout its system.

The more interested parties we alert, now, to what is happening, the better we protect public teachers’ interests from the doings of legislators, who may not be committed supporters of public education.

I have already been asked to attend another teacher’s organization this coming week to inform others of the information that has been shared on this blog. Thank you, again.

Prof

January 22nd, 2012
9:34 pm

@ Mary Elizabeth, 9:09 pm. Well, I have already alerted a colleague whose child attends a charter school so she is on its Board of Directors, and she is notifying her charter school network. Perhaps it WOULD be a good idea for me to notify the chair of my University’s committee on benefits about this……….and also the President of the Staff Council, since the staff at USG schools are members of TRS as well as the educators.

Roberta

January 22nd, 2012
9:48 pm

Maureen, I would suggest the issue isn’t “don’t more for less”. I see the issue as money MISUSED. Take Rome Georgia. The South Rome Redevelopment Corp plans to build a ‘high quality early leaning center to ‘fill a need in this community’. Corporations have pledged money to this project (over $25,000 so far), and tax dollars will soon follow. However, is there a REAL NEED? I say NO. ROME ALREADY HAS THESE EXISTING PROGRAMS in the area:
1) government-subsidized day care
2) day care with Georgia PreK program
3) public school Georgia PreK program
4) Head Start
Yes, there are FOUR PROGRAMS in the AREA. At least the public school preK and Head Start should be offering high quality care. Just one more program takes kids out of the home, and drains more tax dollars away.

Let's get ready to rumble

January 22nd, 2012
10:34 pm

Okay teachers and all educators. Time to walk out en masse. We must let the Georgial legislature and governor know that we are not taking any more of their harsh treatment. Remember to vote… The Republican government is spreading propaganda like flies on trash.

Mary Elizabeth

January 22nd, 2012
10:51 pm

@Prof, 9:34 pm

I think it is worth noting what HB 664 is trying to accomplish from its content. When you tell your professional associates whom you mentioned (and good, targeted choices they are), you might want to alert them to follow the receptivity in the Legislature to this specific bill, and also alert your associates simply to keep an eye out for legislative momentum that might hurt TRS’ viability in the long-run, especially since the board member of the retired teacher’s association had told me that all incoming teachers in the next two or three years would be able to elect to join TRS membership or not. That, itself, would be a very dramatic change. A first, really, because for at least for 50 years teachers have been members of TRS, without choice, and it has been a great benefit to teachers. Trying now to change TRS in so many different ways reminds me of trying to “sell” the public that privatized Social Security is “good” for them. But as you say, some individuals are mobile and not being part of TRS might work out better for them, especially if they have choice. We – all – just have to be on the alert as to how the legislative trend regarding TRS progresses – without locking into our minds, prematurely, preconceived ideas, as to what legislators may attempt and accomplish and for what reason and purpose they might put certain bills into momentum. There are many possibilites, but. . .

You and I both know: “Knowledge is power.” :-) And, “the truth will emerge, in time.”

Ian K. Shaw

January 23rd, 2012
9:21 am

As a business person I have been a lifelong supporter of the the Public School systems in several states. I have also had the opportunity to participate in a number of joint business
/school system innovative programs. My conclusion based on this experience is that school administrators are totally missing the point when it comes to funding education and garnering public support for real improvement. In my opinion the administrators should critically evaluate all current programs and decide if they add value, show measurable impact on student performance
and meet the strategic needs for educating students to be successful in a global economy. There are too many teaching programs that duplicate each other and have no measurable impact, but are the favorite of some individual or group.Educators and administrators should take a business approach and cut out waste and non performing teaching programs, freeing up human and financial resources to concentrate on preparing our students for real careers to make our state and country more competitive in the global economy.

Falcons Fan

January 23rd, 2012
10:55 am

The irony of all of this is rural folks typically vote for the legislators who lash funding to their educational systems. What is that expression? Oh yeah, you reap what you sow.

C Jae of EAV

January 23rd, 2012
11:29 am

What’s most telling is to hear Rep. Stacey Abrams, who has been a strong OPPONANT of charter schools, standing up citing “increased flexibility for systems that win charter status” as a legistlataive achievement. Really Stacey, some of us know your record all to well on these issues. But I guess thats what happens when your fortunes in the legistlature increase your standing (as I understand she is in the minority leadership nowasdays).

Its this type of dis ingeniue lip services that keeps us stuck in rut we’re in with respect to public education in GA.

Tired

January 23rd, 2012
12:08 pm

“Doing more with less” is true for every single state agency. Join the club.

Just A Teacher

January 23rd, 2012
3:17 pm

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.”

I am one of these tired teachers of whom he speaks. I am tired because I spent 6 years of my life and nearly $100,000 to educate myself and become a good teacher yet cannot afford to buy a second car even though my wife and I both work full time. I am tired because I have two degrees and certification in two fields yet get my pay cut and am being forced to teach both subjects. I am tired because I was recruited from out of state and brought here with the understanding that if I did my job well, I would be respected and financially secure (but I am neither). I am tired because I have not had a pay raise in 5 years, yet even Social Security recipients have recently received one. I am tired because our state government would rather spend money on prisons and fish ponds than schools. I am tired because every time I mention any of this to anyone I am called names and told to “do more with less.” Most of all, I am tired because NOBODY in this whole state government gives a flip whether the children I am teaching actually learn because if they did, they would stop these ridiculous austerity cuts and let us teachers go on with our overly educated, barely above the poverty line lives.

If Georgia’s politicians knew how angry we teachers are, they might stop to realize that they are running off the only workforce capable of keeping this state from absolute disaster in the 21st century! Remember the children you are depriving of an education are the ones who will be taking care of you in your old age.

PS. I had much more to say using much stronger language, but edited this post.

Ole Guy

January 23rd, 2012
4:46 pm

Just a Teacher: your restraint from the use of “strong language” is, indeed, admirable. However (and this applies to the teacher community/the teacher corps), one would think that, by now…following far far too many years of (restraint from strong language) nonsense/being repeatedly kicked in the professional gonades (oops, now I’ve done gone an’ used strong language)…you, the teacher corps would have gotten the message. While you teach your students to “go forth into the world”, armed with knowledge and wisdom, you, the teacher corps, seem content to whine like hungry, scared puppys.

Look teach, I’m not “teacher bashing”…I’m on your side (Remember, I went into the profession as a second career. Fortunately, given my previous academic background, certification required little in the way of time/money investments. When I actually saw/experienced the nonesense…and this was back in the 90’s…I said “to hell with this crap”. Fortunately, well-into the so-called middle ages category, I blended well back into the aviation culture…but never mind all that stuff).

I have been lambasted time and again over my affinity to offer “guidance and advice” in an area of which I, ostensibly, have little practical experience. Well, I certainly know when people are getting screwed; when their handlers continually kick their butts an squeeze their _ uts. And I damn sure know when it’s WAY WAY past time when those receiving the kicks an’squeezes should be asserting themselves; not whining and complaining.

Fled

January 23rd, 2012
11:58 pm

@ Ole Guy: you are absolutely correct.

@just a teacher: I feel your pain, believe me. I faced a difficult decision when I left Georgia. I am proud to be a teacher, and I am a highly skilled professional. Like you, I just could not take it any more, and I decided to quit being a victim and no longer to participate in my own oppression. I also had the additional incentive of having children who need to be educated, and I absolutely would not send them to school in Georgia. My decision was difficult because I had put in much time and effort to trying to improve the education my students were receiving; as a consequence, I was often in conflict with the parents who wanted their little darlings prepared to fail out of college and spineless terrorist overseers called administrators.

I have a demanding, interesting job, make over $100K, and have my children enrolled in a first-rate private school. I had to completely change my life to get this, but I would do it again in a second.

The repukes are firmly in charge of that poor, benighted state, and that is not going to change soon. It’s nothing but a fraud, Beverly.

You are not a slave, though you are treated like one. It’s really up to you. Had enough yet, just a teacher?

Give up. Throw in the towel. Flee.

Ian K. Shaw

January 27th, 2012
8:31 am

One approach to the current HOPE scholarship dilemma would to focus the limited funds on the critical needs of the state and the country.In my opinion the HOPE scholarship dollars should be given to students who are pursuing STEM (Science,Technology,Engineering and Math) college majors irrespective of their economic situation.. These are the skills needed for our future success and incidentally probably give the student the most opportunities for a well payed career after college.I am supporter of the liberal arts but we are faced with a global competiveness crisis and we have to
prioritize our limited scholarship funding.