A tornado, a dark hall and frightened children. A school saddles up to meet the challenges.

Jim Arnold leads the Pelham City Schools in Mitchell County, Ga. He is a frequent essayist on this blog. Here is his latest piece:

By Jim Arnold

Public school teachers are fighting battles on many fronts. These challenges have been presented and debated again and again. Everyone seems to have an answer but no one can present a viable solution. Many believe that teachers and public school students are being held hostage by state and federal politicians to promote an agenda of privatization; others are convinced the public schools are irretrievably broken and beyond redemption.

Furlough days that directly affect teacher pay and quality of life, denigration of public schools and of the teaching profession, the use of public schools as instruments of social experimentation and reform, the imposition of more and more standardized tests as an educational end unto itself rather than a means to improve achievement, the threat of tying meaningless test scores to teacher evaluations, the continual micromanagement from state and federal agencies, the institution of program after program, each designed after the fashion of snake oils and Vitameatavegamin to miraculously cure whatever ails our students – all combine to make it difficult to continue teach in the face of what might seem to be insurmountable odds, opposition, constant criticism, all too frequent complaints and parental indifference. It would be oh so easy for teachers to become bitter, jaded and downright mad about the lack of support, dearth of approbation and the seeming lack of appreciation for the vital job they hold and the work they do every day.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy for the rest of the world to see what many of us already know; that the overwhelming majority of teachers and administrators care deeply for their students and go far above and beyond what our most vehement detractors can see or observe. These heroes want “their kids” to be safe and to experience learning opportunities that will make them better citizens, better learners and ultimately better people.

They take kids as they are and refuse to allow them to fail. They take students from hopeless family situations and give them something to build their lives upon. They struggle against staggering amounts of meaningless paperwork and regulations and impositions that make their jobs both thankless almost impossible, and they succeed more often in spite of the system than because of it.

They fight continuously to reach those students that others find unreachable, to find time to teach in a hopeless tangle of bureaucracy and regulation, and more often than not don’t see the results of their efforts until years later, when that treasured note or email appears from a student from years ago thanking them for what they did to help that child succeed.

On Jan. 30, a devastating tornado hit the area in and around Adairsville, Ga. Sonoraville Elementary School was very close to the path of that tornado.

One of my colleagues contacted Sonoraville Elementary Principal Elizabeth Anderson to ask how they might help. None of us really know how we will react when danger threatens. Will our first thoughts be to protect ourselves or will we fight our fears and do what we can to protect others? John Wayne said “courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyway.”

This story is about heroes at Sonoraville Elementary School.

Dr. Anderson wrote:

“I would be honored for you to share this. When I wrote this it was to convey what everyone did in our building that day. Our society should know what educators do every day for children.”

“Good morning!

Thank you for asking about our area. The Sonoraville community was devastated last week by the tornado. My family advocate, counselor  and county social worker continue to make home visits and locate all those impacted by the storm. The damage to many homes was more far reaching than we had originally thought. We are a resilient community and the volunteers have been amazing. We are so appreciative. I would like to brag on our faculty, staff, and students. I think as a principal, you often wonder what the reaction of everyone will be when a crisis happens (you always..what if ?). We were in dark hallways and other areas for approximately two hours and lost all forms of communication.

As the tornado spiraled in our direction, everyone was safely huddled in hallways, bathrooms, and practice rooms.  Adults took little ones in their laps and covered them with their bodies. Many adults rocked small children and used soothing tones as they waited in cramped spaces. Our nurse remembered medical needs and tended to those in the darkness.  A teacher and her paraprofessional drew blood from a diabetic child to make sure he stayed healthy during the storm.  A fourth grade teacher prayed with her students when they questioned what would happen if they died. Once the warning was lifted and we proceeded back to our dark classrooms, the heroism did not cease.

Everyone pitched in to serve lunches and aid in a dark dismissal with no means of mass communication. Many adults had learned they had severely damaged homes, but never once did they ask to leave their students. They all stayed until students had been safely removed from campus. Many said we are here to the end, and they were. Our students assisted each other and each one stepped up that day.

Words will never be able to capture the spirit of Sonoraville Elementary School that day. Following the storm, our people have cleaned, served meals, donated money, resources, and so much more. As their principal, I am one of the luckiest people on earth to say they are mine. So, this February’s Board of Education report’s classified and certified personnel of the month is all of Sonoraville Elementary School. What do Phoenixes do? They rise up…yes they do.”

Stories like this restore my faith in what teachers do. They remind us of why we went into teaching in the first place, and why we spend our lives helping other peoples’ children. They took care of other peoples’ kids because it’s not their job, it’s their calling. John Wayne smiles down on heroes like these.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

81 comments Add your comment

Jack Wolf

February 11th, 2013
10:14 am

We are woefully underprepared as the onslaught of climate change starts, whether it is our schools or other infrastructure. How can we prepare our better schools for extreme weather events? School boards should be addressing this now before a hugh weather event takes our children’s lives.

Observations throughout the world make it clear that climate change is occurring. Rigorous scientific research demonstrates that greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver. The inertia of the global climate and Earth systems has thus far prevented the full expression of an aggravated climate state.

And because carbon dioxide is a long-lived molecule, any additional emissions will have a long-lasting effect on the climate.

These changes will occur much sooner than originally expected and indeed they already are. These conclusions are based on multiple independent lines of evidence. Contrary assertions are inconsistent with an objective assessment of the vast body of peer-reviewed science.

The media has not connected the dots between climate change and all the extreme weather of late.

Why is this?

Georgia

February 11th, 2013
10:16 am

10:10 am

February 11th, 2013
10:16 am

“Many believe that teachers and public school students are being held hostage by state and federal politicians to promote an agenda of privatization; others are convinced the public schools are irretrievably broken and beyond redemption.”

Teachers’ unions and the liberal education establishment is the opposing faction Mr. Arnold fails to identify in his open paragraph. And what follows, of course, is “the world according to teachers’ union apologists.”

Thurston Howell IV

February 11th, 2013
10:20 am

I applaud the dedication shown by Sonoraville teachers and faculty.BUT…

Using a natural disaster to reiterate how picked on the education community feels itself to be is in extremely bad taste. It smacks of cynicism of the like that has led to the reactionary environment the education cartel finds itself in.Lots of other people did extraordinary things that day in Adairsville too.But we don’t read how firefighters,EMT’s and sheriffs deputies are complaining about their lot in life. They work for a lot less than teachers (in most cases,not all) and have a lot less job security. But they seem to have a certain esprit de corp that is all but absent in the school teachers world.

And even if SMS was totally privatized,the teachers would have watched out for the students welfare just as diligently. They’re human beings,after all,despite the attempt to use them as the boogeyman on this blog.

indigo

February 11th, 2013
10:23 am

A Country whose leadership truly cared about the future would do everything possible to give both children and teachers the best possible learning evnironment.

That this is anything but the case in America speaks for itself and indicates a dark and grim future for all of us.

Google "NEA" and "union"

February 11th, 2013
10:27 am

On this blog—no matter the topic, there’s always a way to weave the anti-reform union message into every story …

Proud Teacher

February 11th, 2013
10:38 am

10:10 am: You seem to know little of real teachers by what you write here. The real teachers, the ones who really care what happens to the minds and souls of their students continue their work in the darkest of storms while you write tripe against all. Liberals or conservatives should be able to recognize a child who needs consoling without taking time for namecalling.

Mountain Man

February 11th, 2013
10:44 am

I am glad that the teachers responded so well in an emergency. I think that techers in general would do that at any school, because teachers do care about their students.

One concern I have about schools nowadays is the proliferation of “portable classrooms” (aka – trailers). These “classrooms” are tornado magents, so students have to be moved out of these before a tornado hits. Sometimes there is time to do this. Will it take a natural disaster where a tornado hits unexpectedly and devastates a school and kills a lot of school children before we see the danger thee trailers represent?

In the sixties, we spent about one-fourth what we spend today (adjusted for inflation) and housed all children in real, brick and mortar school buildings. We need to look at where our money is going today and ask ourselves where our priorities are.

In relation to the Federal government, we need to ask what “unfunded mandates” has the Federal government saddled us with, without providing money to pay for.

Mountain Man

February 11th, 2013
10:48 am

“Many believe that teachers and public school students are being held hostage by state and federal politicians to promote an agenda of privatization”

You could also say that the public education system is held hostage to an agenda of inclusion – where SPED students are forced into regular classes where they disrupt the lessons of the many to “include” the one. Where “tracking” is no longer allowed, so the smarter kids are bored by being placed in the same classrooms as those that do not wish to learn.

Jerry Eads

February 11th, 2013
10:55 am

Yep, second post by one of the non-thinking knee-jerks we live with in this society. Surprised it wasn’t first. Those caring people in that school ARE the establsihment, and they comprise both liberals and conservatives. Thankfully, very few are of the mindless right-winger sort such as said poster – never under any circumstances ever to be confused with actual conservatives.

Unions exist because ill-educated people like 1010 were treated as dirt. The NEA came to exist because teachers were – and still are – treated like dirt, including the ones who clearly would – and have as in Connecticut – lay down their lives for OUR kids. Teachers come from all walks of life. The difference between them and people like the poster is that (a) they are capable of reasoning (b) they care about others. Their job is to create good citizens. Sometimes they fail, and we end up with some 1010s in our midst.

Chimamanda Adichie does a wonderful talk about “the dangers of a single story’ that most of you likely will enjoy. It’s at http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.html

Clutch Cargo

February 11th, 2013
11:00 am

“The NEA came to exist because teachers were – and still are – treated like dirt,”

Utter nonsense.The NEA wants more money,better benefits and more teachers.To claim otherwise is to expose your ignorance.Good grief, it’s one thing to lie to others, but if you believe that,you’re just lying to yourself.

A TEACHER is a caring,selfless,wonderful creation. TEACHERS are just a mob.

10:10 am

February 11th, 2013
11:10 am

@Jerry Eads:

Sorry to catch you before you’ve had your morning coffee … and I certainly don’t mean to imply that the bravery and sacrifice you personally displayed at Sandy Hook isn’t worthy of heartfelt praise.

… But I’m not sure just what that has to do with my critique of Mr. Arnold’s gratuitous opening shots at school reformers.

Mountain Man

February 11th, 2013
11:15 am

“Their job is to create good citizens.”

I would disagree with that. Teachers jobs are to create EDUCATED citizens. PARENTS’ jobs are to create good citizens.

And ADMINISTRATORS’ jobs are to enrich themselves as much as possible while eluding any semblance of doing a job that improves education, such as dealing with attendance and discipline, and defending teachers against unwarranted parental ranting.

FlaTony

February 11th, 2013
11:21 am

Well said, Jerry Eads.

Wondering

February 11th, 2013
11:23 am

I haven’t seen any comments here about HB 263. Is anyone concerned with the legislature changing the retirement benefits for teachers and state employees?

bootney farnsworth

February 11th, 2013
11:26 am

@ clutch

and the last time you were in front of a class was….

bootney farnsworth

February 11th, 2013
11:34 am

@ mountain man

back in the day, a couple of mine went to class in trailers. I had some of the same concerns you state until I spent some time with the teachers to see how they, themselves would approach a severe weather problem. 3 of the 4 of them left me feeling comfortable, the 4th reminded me I needed to say very involved.

one of the unintended consequences of the trailers is the admin types don’t often wish to trek all the way out there, so the faculty was freer than most to actually teach.

the thing I was the most worried about was the heat during the late summer.

paulo977

February 11th, 2013
11:38 am

They all stayed until students had been safely removed from campus. Many said we are here to the end, and they were….
———————————————————————————————————-
THAT IS WHAT TEACHERS DO , DON’T YOU KNOW? Of course the event could also be explored to have kids respond in creative ways to expand their learring . I DON’T MEAN BUBBLING IN ANSWERS ON A TEST SHEET!!! UGH

bootney farnsworth

February 11th, 2013
11:40 am

@ mountain

unfortunately you’re both right. as educators our job is supposed to be to help create an educated population.

sadly, the way the Fed binds our hands, it has become a job of creating pliant, under educated citizens. smart enough to hold basic jobs, but not smart enough to challenge the system

Fred ™

February 11th, 2013
11:50 am

<i.Teachers’ unions and the liberal education establishment is the opposing faction Mr. Arnold fails to identify in his open paragraph. And what follows, of course, is “the world according to teachers’ union apologists.”

One day you will pull your head out of your butt and get off the talk radio/FOXBOT teat and actually think for yourself. When thaat daty comes you will realize how completely ignorant your hatefilled rants about “the evil liberals” really sounds. Of course to simple minds only simple catch phrases and ideas come. Rush has you so well programmed that everything *bad* is because of “the liberals.”

Your brand of tripe was so apparent this weekend when the blog was about about Atlanta and it’s literacy rate. You and your ilk spewed hate all weekend about that good news. You are so filled with mindless hate and impotent rage because “that man” is President that you have lost all capacity for joy or rational thought. Wow is it disgusting.
That dang “librul” George Bush and his no child left behind………. oh and this State has been controlled by those “librul” Republicans for over a decade you hate filled pathetic little man. What’s your excuse now? Things have gotten WORSE since Sonny took over in 2001 with his promise to reform statre government and improve education. As a matter of fact, class 2006 recorded the sharpest drop in history of SAT scores. That damn “librul” Sonny Perdue.

Now get off your mindless “the libruuls done it” rant and offer up[ some real THOUGHTFUL suggestions. Oh wait, you can’t. All you can do is spew hate and FOXBOT lies……….

10:10 am

February 11th, 2013
12:01 pm

@Fred ™… The “TM” should remind you to take your meds! This is a blog. People will disagree with your viewpoint.

Brasstown

February 11th, 2013
12:18 pm

10:10 and Clutch. Come up with something new to post or just remain silent. Can you deal with that? Also, close your pie holes on the anti-teacher crap.

Clutch Cargo

February 11th, 2013
12:18 pm

@Bootney

And the last time you saw an honest,transparent union that didn’t steal dues from its members was…

Brasstown

February 11th, 2013
12:27 pm

Clutch Anti-union. Check. Any other thoughts? Oh, anti-teacher. Check. Anything else you need me to put on your list? It’s really fascinating the range of your ideas. Great reading really.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
12:30 pm

Stunning and welcome essay. Brings to the fore the whole bureaucratic harassment thing that is happening to teachers, national make-busy initiatives disconnected from real purpose, making a tough job impossible, it is like the assassin shows up from the fed with a counterweight designed to flip you over a cliff. I’m not overstating it. The real stress effects on people’s health is significant.

10:10, I am going to go ahead and respond to your disconnect jab. I would agree with the term “FOXBOT” from the people who tell you that the reason solar power works in Germany is because they have more sunlight than the USA. (A ridiculous knowing lie from a network being paid by petroleum business interests.) Yes, 10:10, you need to back up (as in move your feet backwards) your stuff and here’s why. First, do some minimal research on the history and purpose of labor unions. The main reason is safety, so people don’t get crushed, electrocuted, or blown up on the job. Labor unions provide order to a system of apprenticeship. For you to connector labor realities with the national lefty big-power politics is not fair. I am in agreement with you on the character of your observation of many things going on from the national think-tank exploit manipulation houses, but where you perspective gets weird is that you seem to think that teachers in Georgia are connected to or care about this stuff, much less from that perspective. That is where you are projecting politics onto people that do not practice what you say, which is why your commentary comes across like a curve-ball from Mars.

As your advocate, I suggest you do some reading / research on the good part of union history regarding training and safety. You need to fill your own self with a little more knowledge and information on your topic, and then you will not require to default to shallow “take your meds” type retort, which is also a formal use of propaganda by you to disqualify your opponent by claiming they are not mentally sound. Really, you ought to read Gulag Archipelago where you are told a first person report of when your method is ramped up and people are collected and imprisoned using the same thing you are doing. But the truth is, I can not tell you what to do, and bullies rarely and I do mean never, read. People who bully are stuck. They can not or do not read on their topics and develop concept information, seem incapable of it as if that part of their brain is missing. It is a great tragedy. Ask anyone who knows a bully. Maybe you do, maybe you can relate. I am not very good at nurture with difficult people. Hey, have a good day.

Clutch Cargo

February 11th, 2013
12:37 pm

@Brasstown.

You’re right-I am anti-union. Look up and to your left. The calendar will say “2013″, not “1867″. Unions have outlived their time. Most of the health and safety reforms demanded by unions are codified into law. Unions will just protect the worst teachers out there and make the good ones hate their administrators and co-workers even more. If you had ever worked in the real world where unions destroy productivity and camaraderie,you’d understand this. But I guess that you’d take it on faith that your lot would improve when you have TWO masters instead of one.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
12:40 pm

It would be nice if Georgia teachers could have a cooperative labor group that was not connected to politics, but it seems that every one of them is motivated to get member monies and commercially solicit members. We’re so depowered, it is just crazy. And it seems like the GAE,NEA, and (whatever that third one is) can not stand up to what big power is doing, none of them seem to have wit of power to counter or affect the federal intiatives, or someone so aptly called it, turning the DOE into an education IRS where the rule book is incomprehensible, the conditions can not be met, and therefore they can continue as the center of attention with their exploit. The term “attention suck” is appropriate for what Arne Duncan is doing, when a teacher wakes up and all of their attention has to go to the authority conditions from someone far far away, and then this is signed in and enforced by both their state and school district who do not have the nerve or wits to stand up to it. Where I live, the percentage rate of teachers leaving is double what it was a year ago. But even on a good day, most districts act like they have a cold heart about it, but I guess after the 4th round of budget cuts, the friendliness, care, and warmth is gone.

Brasstown

February 11th, 2013
12:44 pm

10:10 Maybe take a week off and come back under a new name. Other than that I don’t have any suggestions for you.

Wait new name idea: Private Citizen’s Maid

Once Again

February 11th, 2013
12:44 pm

Worried about your child’s safety at a government school during a natural disaster? Keep them at home, homeschool them, and make your own natural disaster preparations. Problem solved.

Plus, they get a better education, won’t need a bulletproof backpack, will actually learn to read and write, will learn to think critically, will learn to be an individual, and every other great thing that comes with homeschooling.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
12:48 pm

Clutch Cargo, good commentary, except that thing about “health and safety reforms demanded by unions are codified into law” is right, but for some reason there is a mechanism in Georgia where a malicious principal can pick out a teacher and tell them to stand on one toe, and the teacher has to do it. There’s a real void happening where interconnected principal-gangs sort of screw people around, like they have an appetite for it, by destabilising competent workers, they get power from this in a perverse way. I’m not saying every district is like this, but I’ve seen it is action and just in the last week a guy told me his wife, a teacher, was being treated in this manner. You’re pretty smart and keen to labor conditions. What is the answer in Georgia where there are school districts and the principals act like an interconnected gang and this works just fine for the central office who seem to coordinate a group of attack-artists who also act as principals. And it is often competent workers they do this, too. It is just a power thing, but it is ungoverned and where a group wishes to practice this, they are able to do so.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
12:50 pm

Brasstown, that’s okay. I don’t use a maid. I do my own work.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
1:00 pm

I dare say the old world plantation system of “be mean to labor” and “cultivate favorites” is alive and well in some parts of Georgia school district management. I do not know what the answer is, except that teachers have little ability to work autonomously or stand up to it for when they are called out for not playing along, other than having a private attorney on call is the sole way I know of it for a teacher to deal with this type indulgence from management. Its like the top management is really attention-needy and expects / requires other people to come down to their level. This is the problem of so much overt power, and the workers have none.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
1:03 pm

The reason that in reality on a state level Georgia school performance is so low is that in many school districts, the local power does not want the underclass to have a professional level education, and the local power has the means to stop or derail any teacher who does professional level work with lower caste kids.

Brasstown

February 11th, 2013
1:06 pm

Clutch,
In GA unions are not a factor in deciding if a teacher goes or stays. We really don’t have unions here and the organizations we do have, have no power whatsoever. There is no comparison between GAE and say the Teamsters. Poor teachers stay because principals don’t want to do the work to get rid of them. About a 2 year process for a tenured teacher. Also, there are very few of them. Probably no greater percentage than the dead weight to be found in any orgainization public or private (anecdotal evidence only). Certainly not the boogey-man that many beleive is the main cause of problems in public education. Nor, for that matter, is a problem with how teachers teach. Curriculum has been tweaked to death. Now students are better test-takers. That’s about all that has accomplished. If you really want to bring educational attainment up a significant amount, you have to solve poverty and all of it’s root causes. Many of those problems can best be solved in the health and mental health worlds, not the classroom.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
1:07 pm

To the anti-union crowd, I’d trade current conditions for a rock-solid labor union any day of the week 24/7/365, where professional level teachers could tell errant administrators to “get lost” or at the very least, “there’s a rule book and you’re going to play by it.” The state certainly will not do this for you.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
1:09 pm

The other thing that the anti-union bunch needs to observe is that the states with the strongest education performance have strong teacher unions.

Brasstown

February 11th, 2013
1:20 pm

The private sector only needs 20-30% of it’s work force to be college educated. The biggest need is in the skilled work force area. The question in America is, Who gets to decide who gets that higher level of education, status and pay? If you undermine public education enough, then those who can afford private education will get to keep those postions in the hands of their offspring. That seems to be the plan of the ruling class here in GA. The only barrier is that most of the excellent teachers are in the public schools. Public schools do an incredible job teaching the top 10%. We must undermine those resources in order to stop top public school students from crushing the private school kids.

Astropig

February 11th, 2013
1:40 pm

“The private sector only needs 20-30% of it’s work force to be college educated.” – Says who ? Citation desperately needed.

” If you undermine public education enough, then those who can afford private education will get to keep those postions in the hands of their offspring.” – Private education is not chock-a-block with do nothing former teachers that got promoted.

” That seems to be the plan of the ruling class here in GA.”- Kook fringe conspiracy nonsense. Names please, or pipe down.

“The only barrier is that most of the excellent teachers are in the public schools.”- Before you get too full of thyself, there are literally THOUSANDS of people that have never set foot in a college of education doing outstanding work teaching- They are called Homeschoolers. You may be a tad less irreplaceable than you think.

“We must undermine those resources in order to stop top public school students from crushing the private school kids.” Conspiracy Kook nonsense to the power of 2.

KIM

February 11th, 2013
1:41 pm

@10:10 am and Thurstson Howell IV–go thank a teacher today for what he/she does on a regular basis. Thank that one and as many others as you can that you read and live in a world where informed people ensure our country stays free so you can post these ignorant comments.

As for the principal at Sonoraville Elem…your tornado drills have served you well. And your staff was as well trained as it could be. Your community also has something schools can’t teach: heart. I think we would find that true almost everywhere, but Thank God most of us are not put to the test. Glad you all are safe.

Another comment

February 11th, 2013
1:50 pm

Obviously, most of you have never gone to school in a union state. I will tell you that the quality of teachers is 100% better than in Georgia. Why, you have professionals, who know that they will earn a middle class wage, with good benefits and decent working conditions. You also mostly have small one high school districts, in each township. You don’t have the traveling superintendents and the corrupt politicians medling either. The union won’t allow it. Why do you thing so many of us educated Yankee’s have been brought down here as the best and brightest out of College or Graduate School.

I was even hired by an old line Georgia Company. Yes they crossed the Mason Dixon Line to hire employees. They paid the moving expenses to bring me down here. They had to have some employees that could do the estimates that made them money. The ones done by their Southern employees had them $80K in the hole at the start of the job, I had them making $3,000,000 at the end of the job. I knew how to do math and cost accounting on a job.

Private Citizen

February 11th, 2013
1:53 pm

Astropig, After 35 years in the classroom and two State of New York Teacher of the Year Awards, John Taylor Gatto said the reason schooling is in the shape it is is because that is exactly how they (big power) want it. There is no coincidence or “maybe” or what-have-you.

I certainly support your frontier solution of home schooling, but in abandoning the system, we lose what could be benefits of coordination. Not every home school situation is competent. My neighbor does periodic home schooling, meaning the student spends a lot of time outdoors on a 4 wheeler and a lot of time on computer doing chats with a peer group on “cool stuff?” Neighbor is absolutely anything but learned, no one in his family has ever gotten near a college, and he is probably 2 grade levels or more behind his at-grade-level peers. I knew a guy in another state who was home schooled. He said his mother was crazy and he hated it. In other words, it is not a simple matter and when high minded metroplex folk advocate for home schooling, well, good for you.

Seems few in the US are willing to take responsibility for the political condition of their country. Everybody’s got an out or a reason to ignore or continue the status. The do-it-yourselfers are doing it themselves, those on the take are happy to be removed from the riff-raff. Somebody said about when the only new construction is government buildings and everything else is in a shambles.

Prof

February 11th, 2013
1:59 pm

@ Wondering, 11:23 am. You asked about HB 263, and legislature changing retirement benefits for teachers and state employees. I went to the TRS website, http://www.trsga.com, and under “Legislation,” it stated:

“The 2013 Georgia General Assembly will convene on January 14, 2013, and is the first year of the two-year (2013 – 2014) biennium session. Retirement legislation introduced, but not acted on, during previous sessions is no longer valid.

Retirement legislation that has a fiscal impact can only be introduced during the 1st year of a two-year session and can only be acted on during the 2nd year. Therefore, the earliest date that a fiscal piece of legislation introduced during the 2013 session can become effective is July 1, 2014.”

So I guess we’re safe for now.

Astropig

February 11th, 2013
2:00 pm

“two State of New York Teacher of the Year Awards, John Taylor Gatto said the reason schooling is in the shape it is is because that is exactly how they (big power) want it. There is no coincidence or “maybe” or what-have-you.”

More conspiracy kook drivel. In fact, it’s worse than drivel. It’s…Religion! You have this “faith” in something that you cannot prove, and you have someone who has stature and notoriety assuring you of this (John Taylor Gatto) and you swallow it whole. It’s an article of “faith” with you. You’re no better than the holy roller,refried Jesus wheezers that you make fun of every day.

KIM

February 11th, 2013
2:00 pm

Some bloggers generalize and make broad brush strokes:i.e. saying union states have better teachers. There is NO, aboslutely no, empirical data to support that statement. Georgia teachers have a mix, just like union states do. Some are true teacher leaders, others are not. On an educator exchange one time to Buffalo, NY I entered a school to hear the unionized teachers talk about their soft strike: entering a second before the contracted time, leaving a second after the contracted time and doing nothing, nothing after hours. Interesting. Some were creative and happy to do their work, while others were a miserable lot, asking if we were hiring “down here in the south.” Good ole’ Georgia. Actually, some of our districts are so well thought of (Gwinnett, Fayette, Forsyth) most professionals in other states would love to work here. And as for companies hiring north of the Mason Dixon line…well, isn’t it interesting we actually have good old’ southern young folks from UGA, GA. Tech, Mercer, Valdosta, etc. getting hired in northern states…can you imagine??? We actually do go up there and wear shoes and use computers and even people skills! Wow!

Captain Kirk

February 11th, 2013
2:06 pm

“Obviously, most of you have never gone to school in a union state. I will tell you that the quality of teachers is 100% better than in Georgia. Why, you have professionals, who know that they will earn a middle class wage, with good benefits and decent working conditions. You also mostly have small one high school districts, in each township. You don’t have the traveling superintendents and the corrupt politicians medling either. The union won’t allow it. Why do you thing so many of us educated Yankee’s have been brought down here as the best and brightest out of College or Graduate School. ”

Funniest post I’ve read today. Keep ‘em coming.

Google "NEA" and "union"

February 11th, 2013
2:10 pm

For the record, the GAE (Georgia Association of Educators) is the NEA in Georgia. In other words, they are in charge of funneling Georgia money to Democrats and the liberal left. Google “NEA” and “donations” for details.

Chicago and Washington D.C. are two of the most unionized cities for teachers—and they score lowest in education results using nearly any yardstick.

Prof

February 11th, 2013
2:36 pm

@Wondering. As a follow-up, HB 263 relates to health insurance coverage after retirement, and provides that the retiree pays the entire premium.

”First Reader Summary
A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Subpart 1 of Part 6 of Article 17 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the O.C.G.A., relating to school personnel post-employment health benefit fund, so as to provide that any person who becomes eligible to participate in such fund on or after July 1, 2013, shall pay a premium which reflects the entire cost of such coverage; to prohibit the expenditure of public funds to subsidize the cost of health care; to provide for persons currently eligible; to amend Part 2 of Article 1 of Chapter 18 of Title 45 of the O.C.G.A., relating to the state employees post-employment health benefit fund, so as to provide that any person who becomes eligible to participate in such fund on or after July 1, 2013, shall pay a premium which reflects the entire cost of such coverage; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.”

So it’s just been introduced and is making its way through committees. The legislators are cagy. This bill provides that it applies to those retiring after July 1, 2013, although the bill itself cannot be acted upon until July 1, 2014. So educators can retire through June 30, 2013, and still have part of their health insurance benefits covered, I gather.

The TRS website is a good place to keep track of the progress of the latest retirement legislation, whether or not you’re a member of TRS.

Home-tutoring parent

February 11th, 2013
2:42 pm

Maureen, the replies here are indicative that you may be right in saying “Everyone seems to have an answer but no one can present a viable solution.”

I think I opined, in an earlier thread ca. 3-4 weeks ago, “There may be no solution.” I wasn’t smart enough to figure out a solution for other people’s kids. I didn’t know if I was smart enough to figure out one for my own, and I still don’t know, but they were my kids.

Kudos to the Sonoraville staff who stayed with the kids. (The ACLU will not sue the teacher who led her kids in prayer, thankfully.)

Maude

February 11th, 2013
2:48 pm

From what I read the staff at Sonoraville did what thousands of educators would have done in the same situation. They did their job! Why is this news? Why do people on this blog seem to find it hard to believe that a group of educators would do their duty??

Wondering

February 11th, 2013
2:53 pm

Prof: However, it goes into effect for all people not retired by June 30, 2013. We may be safe now but how about then?

Since Georgia doesn’t have teacher’s unions, these arguements are mostly academic. However, see http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2FBF02685219?LI=true and others. Militant teachers unions are considered by far the biggest negative influence on SAT scores and other measures of academic achievement. Of course Georgia was never successful enough to have fallen.

Even Harvard (not a right wing think tank) studied the negative impact of teachers unions and concluded their impacts were negative on the students. http://qje.oxfordjournals.org/content/111/3/671.short.

In Georgia we simply rely on due process for teacher protection. There is no union.