About Maureen Downey

AJC Get Schooled blogger Maureen Downey

AJC Get Schooled blogger Maureen Downey

Maureen Downey is a longtime reporter for the AJC where she has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy for 12 years. She’s also taught college classes in mass communications and journalism.
However, she’s learned more about schools from having four children in them. Her children range in age from 22 to 12, so she’s now dealing with elementary school and college.
Her own education includes an undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware and a master’s degree from Columbia University. She has worked for newspapers in New Jersey and Florida and has covered many school boards. She has won many editorial writing awards, including a National Headliner award. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for her AJC editorials on the Genarlow Wilson case. Please e-mail her or call her at 404 526-5445.

105 comments Add your comment

Jennifer Wharton

March 18th, 2009
3:11 pm

Laura, I hope you will consider featuring a Forsyth County student in your education news. My daughter, Jessica Wharton, is a brain cancer survivor. She will graduate from high school with honors this year, just 2 years after her diagnosis. She has been accepted to the pre-nursing program and the Honors & Scholars program at Georgia College & State University in Milledgeville, where she plans to do her undergraduate and graduate work. She hopes to return to Children’s Healthcare at Scottish Rite, to serve the community where she herself was served.
She is currently competing in an international scholarship contest sponsored by zinch.com. For a synopsis of Zinch, go to http://www.zinch.com/static/about.html .
Only one scholarship in the amount of $20,000 will be awarded. The winner is determined by the number of votes received. Period. There are six back-to-back elimination rounds remaining, from now until April 15th. We would like to see an Atlanta area student win this competition, while promoting Zinch’s college and scholarship matching services to our community. I hope you will contact me for further information.

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Dr. Craig Spinks /Evans

March 19th, 2009
1:33 am

Laura, you bring a sorely-needed, keenly insightful out-of-state perspective to public education in Georgia. Your work at the AJC helps fuel the fires of educational reform in The Empire State of the South.

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GPC Student

April 6th, 2009
8:33 am

Please report on: “Tough Choices or Tough Times”

Why isn’t there a 2 year college representative on the committee who is about to release the Tough Choices or Tough Times report?

Why are the 2 year students in the State of Georgia NOT being represented in a process that could detrimentally effect our lives?

Why is the ONLY representative on this committee a faculty member from the University System of Georgia who is a former education policy advisor for Governor Perdue?

Why is my state government not standing up for my rights as a two year student in the State of Georgia?

Why as a student of a two-year college, does the state government feel I do not deserve to have a DIRECT representative on this committee, such as a two-year college president?

Contact for futher information:

Beth Jensen, Ph.D.

Professor of English

bjensen@gpc.edu

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Christy Kown

April 21st, 2009
9:23 am

I am writing you on behalf of the The Committee for Informed Parents of Cobb County. We are trying to inform all Cobb County Parents of the impending advancement of the Standard Based Report Card. This Standard Based System does not benefit the overachiever or the underachiever. It does not incent students on either end of the educational spectrum to strive for anything more than meeting the standard. We in Cobb County expect more from our children and their education.

Cobb County Curriculum Department pushed the report card into policy for 1st and 2nd grade last August, without a vote from the Cobb County School Board.

Further, Cobb County has spent upwards of $500,000 on the implementation of this program. This ticket price comes for a program that was NOT broken. The current Cobb County Curriculum, QCC, has served the county well. Even called a success by the Curriculum Superintendent.

Meanwhile the County is stretching its budget: “In Cobb, I have said all along that our priority will be to cut costs in such a way that minimizes the impact on classroom instruction. We have had to respond quickly to cuts in state funding for the current year’s budget. In October, the Board approved $8.5 million in cost-saving measures, including a five-percent reduction in central office budgets, a hiring freeze, and a ban on out-of-state travel, among other steps. Then, at our last meeting I explained that due to additional cuts in state funding we would add a new level of review for school purchases, and encourage schools to be proactive in finding cost savings in areas such as utilities and supplies.” Superintendent report from 3-26-2009.

The Cobb County School Board will have its next meeting on Thursday April 23rd, @ 6:00 P.M. at The Central Board Office, 514 Glover Street, Marietta Ga. We are expecting a unprecedented turn out at the meeting. The Committee has started a grass roots effort to inform everyone.

We would like to invite every Cobb County Parent to attend this meeting, in an effort to inform the tax payers what the school board is doing with their tax dollars and what the Curriculum Department is imposing upon our children.

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Old School

April 21st, 2009
1:20 pm

Laura,
Please delete my comments on the SAT blog begun today. I am regretting posting my opinion and will be much more careful in the future.

Thank you

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dbow

April 28th, 2009
1:58 pm

Laura, after reading your articles I’ve come to the conclusion that you suffer from the same condition that many “outsiders” suffer from; you’ve been to school so you think you know what’s best for schools. Your left wing, liberal ideologies are so transparent they are shameful. Your bias shows in every topic you blog about and frankly, your knowledge of schools is so superficial I wonder how you maintain your status as an education writer. Please, leave education to those that know what they’re talking about. Of course, the AJC is such a liberal rag it would never have a real education columnist anyway.

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Jessica

May 1st, 2009
9:39 am

Hi Laura,

I thought I would let you know about a national scholarship that my company has been running – the “Frame My Future” Scholarship Contest. There is a student who will be attending Georgia Tech next year, who made it into the latest stage of 24 finalists from over 3,300 entries! These 24 entries are now online for public vote through 5/15. The top five will win a $1,000 scholarship, and the number one vote-getter will also earn a $1,000 donation for the college/university they attend next year.

I thought you and your readers might be interested in checking out the entry of a future Georgia Tech student, and helping her win a $1,000 scholarship. Here is a link to her entry: http://www.diplomaframe.com/entries/36_yawn.cfm

Enjoy the other entries as well. They are all so inspiring.

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David

May 29th, 2009
9:02 am

I am a founding committee member and the petitioner for the recently approved fulton county charter school in South Fulton. The Main Street Academy will open in 2010 and serve the students of South Fulton, including the cities of East Point, College Park & Hapeville. We have been working on this school for nearly 3 years and have overcome a 2008 denial, budget cuts and 2 recommendations to deny this cycle. A high quality public charter option is coming to our community and we will be the first elementary charter school in the FCS district south of Sandy Springs. It’s a great story and I’d like to talk with your paper about it. Here’s a video link of last weeks BOE vote to approve. Thanks for your time.
http://view.liveindexer.com/ViewIndexSessionSL.aspx?indexSessionSKU=o1YtZH8a8WZh56/0KLm1Cg%3D%3

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StraightTalk

June 14th, 2009
11:28 am

It is very disturbing that so much focus & energy is spent on testing.
As a very involved Dad, it continues to amaze me how much time is spent
“teaching to the test” as opposed to “teaching the curriculum.” If the “quality” of instuction is there in the classroom, the “scores” would take care of themselves. It is so unfortunate that because of the accountibility of No Child Left Behind, Administrators focus on
“THEIR TEST RESULTS” at the expense of broad curriculum instruction in
the classroom. Considering the CRCT is a “BARE MINIMUM” test of academic understanding, it’s really pitiful how little our children learn.

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Warren Buck

July 2nd, 2009
3:00 pm

Hello,
I wanted to contact you to let you know that Atlanta’s third KIPP school, the STRIVE Academy will be opening in the West End next week.
The first two KIPP schools have been amazingly successful and STRIVE is looking to build upon the success already achieved for Atlanta’s students. With an eye on increased rigor and long-term sustainability, STRIVE is looking to push the KIPP model even further towards creating true education reform.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to do a feature on any of the amazing things that KIPP STRIVE Academy will be accomplishing!
Thank you!
Warren Buck
warren.buck@yahoo.com

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Peyton

August 9th, 2009
9:51 pm

It makes no difference how many tests we give our students, it doesn’t matter if we start school before Labor Day or after, it doesn’t matter how long the schools day is. Our students will not improve on what and how much they learn until we start teaching to the way they learn. Currently, we teach in a way that is the most convenient and affordable for the masses, not what actually works for the person learning. For example, at North Gwinnett, foreign language classes are taught with total immersion. While 50.1% may learn that way, you still have 49.9% who do not. What a waste of tax payer dollars. What teaching techniques are used to teach the other half of the class? Nothing. Science has shown that people learn in one of nine different ways. You can go online and take the multiple intelligence test (for free) and see how you learn best at http://literacyworks.org/mi/assessment/cgi-bin/results.cgi. You may be a visual learner, music, kinesthetic, social, logic/math, spatial, natural, etc, but you will in fact, have a predominate way of learning. It would be easy to have students take the multiple intelligence test online to see how they learn best, starting in the third grade. Then, we should base classes on these learning styles. Since there are multiple classes for each grade, what would it hurt to have the visual learners in one class, the students who are kinesthetic in another, and thus and so forth. They still receive the same materials to learn, it’s just how they are taught. Teaching to the way students learn is the only technique the school system has not used? Why not consider it? Start by testing the teachers and find out what their natural learning style is.

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Carolyn Curasi

August 24th, 2009
11:18 am

August 24, 2009

I am a Professor at Georgia State University working on a research project to better understand women entering the empty nest stage. To move forward with this project I need to interview some women who have recently had a child move out of their home. Thus, I would like very much to talk to women who have recently or who will very soon have a child move out of their home to go away to college, to get married, or to join the military.

As a small token of my appreciation for allowing me to talk to them for an hour or two to learn more about their feelings and experiences, I can thank them for their time with a $25 donation to their church, their PTA, or just to them.

If you or anyone you know is currently going through this transition, I would like very much to learn about your or their experiences. Please feel free to contact me (ccurasi@gsu.edu).

Thank you,
Carolyn

Carolyn Curasi, Ph.D.

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Concerned CCSD Parent

September 23rd, 2009
5:41 pm

What broad based screening child find activities does CCSD perform for the 2nd and 4th grade classes? None!

We have been in communication with Cobb County Schools as concerns their administration of gifted services. We have a concern that the entire CCSD 2nd and 4th grade classes appear to be systematically excluded and discriminated against for gifted services screening. Based on responses received to date and the lack of a response from the CCSD Office of Accountability, we believe the entire CCSD 2nd and 4th grade classes are systematically excluded and discriminated against for gifted services in an attempt to conserve resources. We do not believe that CCSD is following the intent of GA State Rule 160-4-2-.38.

Attempts to find out in detail what broad based screening child find activities that CCSD performs for the 2nd and 4th grade classes have been unsuccessful?

Dealings with the CCSD central office Department of Accountability and Department of Gifted Services indicate their belief they are doing everything by the book since the GA Department of Education has not indicated otherwise.

Is the GA Department of Education even watching or simply rubber stamping the CCSD reports every 3 years?

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Old School

September 30th, 2009
7:31 am

Maureen, I began my teaching career as an Industrial Arts teacher- one of only 3 female shop teachers in the state (early 70s). Unfortunately, I witnessed the demise of this wonderful course that fed our vocational shops and taught kids craftsmanship in a variety of areas: cabinetmaking, drafting, metalworking, small engines, light construction, photography. IA was killed off at our school and replaced with Technology Education- a module based program that gave students a few days in individualized simulations of robotics, pneumatics, graphic design, desktop publishing, CNC, hydraulics, and other tinkertoys with electricity. The modules (commercially assembled, packaged and sold) were expensive and frequently broke down. The funding was never there to replace or update after the lab was initially set up. Our southwest Georgia area has no robotics; desktop publishing is handled well in other classes, and the other modules were alien to our local industries.

Industrial Arts worked. My students understood wood joinery, basic welding and sheet metalwork, small engine care & repair, and the basics of drafting. They could do the embedded math because it made sense. They could research and write coherent, informative papers because it mattered to them.

Then the program was axed.

But evidently SOMEONE remembers. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/opinion/2009968077_bruce30.html

I just wish Georgia could.

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DAVID

September 30th, 2009
6:19 pm

SHE IS A Biiiiiiiiiiggg LIB……that says it all

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Chad McDonald

October 6th, 2009
12:10 pm

Dear Families,

Georgia Families for Public Virtual Education needs your help.

We have become aware that Georgia Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox will ask the State School Board on Wednesday, October 7, 2009 to vote against allowing the Georgia Virtual Academy (”GVA”) and the Odyssey Charter School to move to the Georgia Charter Commission. It is important for GVA and Odyssey to move from the Department of Education to the Charter Commission to access additional funding for the schools available through a recent change in the law. These additional funds can provide our students with additional classes such as music, art and foreign language, the same classes that are available to our brick and mortar counterparts. It will also allow for more teachers to accommodate the needs of our students.

NEEDED ACTION:

Please contact:
1. Superintendent Cox at (404) 656-2800 or state.superintendent@doe.k12.ga.us

Please express the following four points:

· Georgia parents deserve access to public school alternatives including virtual schools. The continued lack of fair funding is a direct threat to virtual schools in Georgia and weakens their stability and future.
· The students in these public virtual schools deserve fair and equitable funding.
· Virtual public schools should continue to be staffed with highly qualified Georgia teachers.
· Georgia parents merit quality programs that are accountable both to the parents as well as to Georgia taxpayers.

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Wwwww

October 8th, 2009
1:15 pm

I hope she does vote against it.

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Sondra Schmid

December 2nd, 2009
8:42 am

Hi Maureen!

My husband and I have created a website for the purpose of healing the US Economy using the power of intention. We are petitioning for a mass of volunteers to sign up for our intention projects on http://www.higherlight.org to send intentions to heal the US economy. As I am sure you already know, the more volunteers we have, the greater the positive impact. We would greatly appreciate any effort you could make to get the word out!

Blessings to you!

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Mac

December 2nd, 2009
3:19 pm

What happened to http://www.gaosa.org/

The report card data was released yesterday and mow it is gone?

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Doug

December 3rd, 2009
3:39 pm

Hey Maureen.
Sorry to clog your blog with this, but did you get the email I sent you and Jay yesterday, with op-ed offering from a colleague of mine here at W&L? Just checking. I know y’all are runnin ragged.
A fan and ed guy

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Maureen Downey

December 3rd, 2009
3:46 pm

Hey Doug, I sent the piece to Ken as it falls under his area. Hope all is well in academia and in Virginia.
Maureen

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Parent

December 18th, 2009
3:10 pm

So, the BOE is having a meeting on Dec 21, 2009 to “take action on the EOCT results for Math 1 and 11″, do you know what is going on?

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Maureen Downey

December 18th, 2009
6:58 pm

Parent, My understanding is that the board is going to vote on what the cut scores will be for the EOCT math test, per the recommendation of a teacher committee.
Maureen

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Parent

December 20th, 2009
8:34 am

Will we know how many questions were cut and what the percentage is for a passing grade? Also, did the PSAT scores for 10th grade math increase this year.

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IET4

January 3rd, 2010
2:07 am

I’ve enjoyed the blog and would comment occasionally, but don’t want my real name or email to be known. Is IET4 acceptable and appropriate?

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Maureen Downey

January 3rd, 2010
8:29 am

Sure, Maureen

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Old School

January 4th, 2010
4:53 pm

Maureen, I am in the process of interviewing for a possible position at another school. What prompts me to do this is the abrupt and unprofessional way we were notified that our school would be changing from 4- 2hr blocks to 7- 50 minute periods next school year. We were emailed this info on Friday, Dec. 18 just prior to lunch (the day we were released for Christmas break). A followup email answered my question “how would extended day instructors be affected” with the statement that our extended day supplement would be for 1- 50 minute period of time instead of the current 90 minute block. I understand that as well as the huge impact it will make on my pocketbook.

But what I REALLY want and need to know is this: Are there any schools out there who have successfully modified their block schedules to address weaknesses in academic programs like Math? Are there any schools with 7 period schedules that still have strong shop classes and minimal scheduling problems? If so, who are they and how are they doing it?

The school I will be visiting next has been on a 7 period schedule for several years and their CTAE department is a PREP Academy. The instructors I’ve spoken to HATE the 7 periods but deal with it gracefully. I fear that if I stay where I am and teach under the 7 period format, my program will suffer and become a dumping ground as it was before block scheduling.

Would it be possible to look into various schedules and their success or challenges?

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Chuck

January 6th, 2010
11:13 am

I am in favor of the passage of HB 615. Criminals know where the No Gun Zones are located, and prey on those within the zone. There was a great out cry when HB 89 passed that there would be more violence on MARTA, when in reality crime on MARTA has decreased.

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Ben

January 6th, 2010
11:52 am

Hey Maureen; what’s up? I came here looking for a brawl regarding HB-615 which will be heard in committee tomorrow. I’m going to be there; are you?

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David Nixon

January 6th, 2010
12:10 pm

The way I see it is this… If I am a law abiding citizen, who follows the rules and passes all the background checks required to get a carry permit, why can I be trusted in some locations but not others?

I understand the issues with drinking while carrying and the concern with bars. But treat that the same way you treat drinking and driving. You can drink, or you can drive, but not both. But if I walk into a church, a MARTA station, a school or any of the other off limit areas, why do I go from a trusted law abiding gun owner, to a felon that cannot be trusted with a weapon? I am a good guy on one side of the street, but a threat on the other?

On what planet does that make sense? I am either a trusted permit holder or I am not. My character does not change based on geography or a street address.

These laws are silly, and we need some common sense injected into the system here.

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Ron Taylor

January 6th, 2010
12:23 pm

Can anyone tell me how an 18 year old Georgia High School grad can go to Iran and use any number of weapons to defend our country, then return home, start college, get a carry permit but not be allowed to defend himself on campus in Georgia. Does anyone see logic or common sense in that?

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GCO member JM

January 6th, 2010
1:22 pm

I too am in favor of the passage of HB 615. As a law abiding citizen who has submitted to and passed the background scrutiny to obtain a Georgia Firearms License, I have a tremendous respect for both the law and my fellow mankind. I hold life and liberty dear, not just for myself. But, for all. The current firearms law in Georgia infringes upon liberty and undeniably jeopardizes life by creating geographic boundaries across which only criminals and law enforecement are armed. As the child of a retired law enforcement officer, I understand the tremendous burden that each officer in this state takes to protect and serve our fellow Georgians. However, even they will tell you, they can’t be in all places at all times. It is undeniable that law enforcement presence prevents violent crime. The concern of law abiding Georgians is what takes place in the critical instance when a violent attack is imminent and there is no law enforcement present at that critical moment in time. The violent crime statistics inside the Georgia Tech no carry zone are just one sobering reminder that criminals don’t obey the law.Why would we pass up the opportunity to allow vetted, law abiding citizens the chance to protect themselves and their loved ones based on a geograpic boundary? Specifically, how do those that oppose HB 615 believe that I, and the many thousands of other Georgians that legally carry concealed firearms among them every day would cause any harm simply by changing the geographic boundary of where we already legally carry our firearms with discretion, respect, and good judgement every day? I respectfully submit that decriminalizing firearms carry in certain geographic areas would not increase violent crime, it may very well reduce it (see the passage of HB 89.) Thank you and your readers for taking the time to consider this side of the debate.

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paul jackson

January 6th, 2010
1:28 pm

regarding HR615 which would insert common sense into the Georgia gun carry laws I would like to comment on the fact that there are not facts to support any type of restrictions on law abiding citizens carrying in most public places. In fact a quick study would show that citizens carrying have not been responsible for any violet crimes but on the contrary have prevented such crimes in many cases. This issue is not about facts but feelings. The idea that guns create violence and that if they are restricted then there will be no violence is just a flat out denial of reality. Criminals intent on violence are the only people that benefit from an unarmed society, this is just fact. “Those who beat the arms into ploughshares will plow for those who have not” Thomas Jefferson. We should never trade our liberty for false security.

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Lawrence Valentino

January 6th, 2010
2:15 pm

For some reason that I fail to understand, why the gun control advocates group the law abiging people who have gone through the legal process of getting a permit are grouped with the ones who can not pass the requirements for a permit. The permit holders are checked out by the state and two federal agencies. Permit holders are proven honest, law abiding citizens. They do not change character because they happen to be in a current no carry zone. Permit holders are not allowed to consume alcohol and carry concealed at the same time. People who are doing this are not going through the process of getting a permit and probably carrying while under the infulence. Granted there are areas where guns should not be permited, but the list in Georgia is too excessive and vague. HB615 will go a long way in clarifying this. The gun control advocates always have stories of gloom and doom that never happen when a law is passed in favor of gun owners. I remember the headlines in the Atlanta paper back in the seventies when gun permits were to be issued. They said blood would run down Peachtree Street. Nothing happened because law abiding citizens are the one who got the permits. Same scenerio a few years later when Florida passed a permit law, and again nothing of the sort happened. Criminals do not abide by the law,give permit holders a fighting chance and give credit where credit is due.

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Ray Rideout

January 6th, 2010
3:09 pm

I sincerely hope there is a receptive mind at the other end of this blog. Passage of HR615 is essential in order to eliminate, once and for all, the leftovers from the Jim Crow law days. That’s when Georgia passed some of most restrictive and unconsitutional gun laws in the nation. These laws were not intended to restrict or control white citizens (I’m white by the way). The idea was to control black people (by selectivly enforcing the laws against the black folks), and still complying with the Federal requirements for readmission to the Union.

It’s incredible to me that states are allowed to cherry pick which of the bill of rights they want to enforce or follow. What is it people don’t understand, or choose not to follow, when the first 10 ammendments are called “The Bill of Rights”. I have the same right to defend myself and my family, as I have to choose what church to attend.

I’m aware we are all affraid of things we don’t understand or which are unfamiliar, but think about this. Have you ever seen a gang banger or low life carry a gun in an approved holster? Do you think the average criminal is going to bother getting a concealed carry permit prior to shooting up the Bank or victum he is robbing? I believe the Government has no right to tell me I cannot hurt my self, but that’s just me. At the same time, the government has no right to deny me the ability to defend myself and those I hold dear.

Please support HR615 for the overall welefare of the citizens of Georgia, and help bring us up out of the racist past and into the light of today.

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Bill

January 6th, 2010
3:11 pm

I am concerned that by turning the CCPs over to the Secretary of State, which cannot even locate a very important file having to do with the fraudulent electronic voting currently as its practiced in Ga., is not a good nor safe thing to change to do; better left with sheriffs, if probate judges don’t want to continue rendering this service? Franklin’s bill, HB 873(?), has merit if taken in the context of sometimes a clean slate has to be created in ordered to start over & correct numerous wrongs committed in previous years.
Additionally a right cannot be licensed, only a privilege, & unfortunately today the public does not understand for instance that the 2nd ad. was a license to the government to allow militias to maintain guns, because we had just suffered the sacrifice of running the Dru-goons, et.al. out of the USA, & that’s why the navy, etc. had to be refunded every two years to keep from having to fight another round of Heisen mercenaries to content with again. Remember the UK came back in 1812(?) & burned our Whitehouse?
Only “the people’s governments” grants privileges disguised as rights, such as PROC, USSR/Russia, etc.; which with the eminent domain fraud perpetrated on the public begins to liken our government to theirs? PROC does whole sell eminent domain on people’s homes to build the Olympics. etc. with out batting an eye!
I wonder how Tienanmen Square would have turned out if the public was armed or whether it would have ever even occurred? Potentially the poor soul that was raped/murdered on the Silver Comet Trail maybe would be alive today? Or if first President Bush had come through with arms & supplies for the Shi’ite or Kurds as they were led to believe was coming, or even how Marshall/Truman treated the Nationalists in Formosa?
That’s why the bill is so important to neutralize the Barnes’ law SB 265, that allows for confiscating weapons at roadblocks in the event of a declared emergency by TPTB, that has been preserved by Sonny. Even forced vaccinations aspect of SB 265 law may even get changed after wards?
Plus ask some of my law enforcement friends if they think them having to being placed in the untenable position of confiscating weapons in a heightened crisis state a good thing to do from law abiding citizens? They will be needed in helping catch bad guys!
So in closing as our Founding Fathers believed we should not get government a weapon that can be used against us as sovereign citizens.

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Bev Vaughn

January 6th, 2010
3:16 pm

I support hb615. I have a permit to carry and abide by the laws, the ones I like AND dislike. Comments on gun control are almost always made by emotions and use very little facts. The facts are, no matter where the law abiding happen to be, they still obey the laws. Why would anyone care whether I am carrying at Walmart, Red Lobster, or my church. Facts are, permit holders are not your problem, it’s the lawless. Why not work on them? Is this too simple for some to understand? Maybe we need to issue permits to individuals before they can express their views in the newspaper, or this might infringe on the Constitution!!!

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David

January 6th, 2010
3:33 pm

I too support HB615. I lived in Texas when the cafeteria massacre happened because citizens were not allowed to have their own protection. Even with a police convention nearby, many died. After they passed their concealed carry law, they too banned guns as churches and schools. Then more shootings started happening at guess where – churches and schools. The people realized that the phrase is true, when seconds count, the police are just minutes away (sometimes.)

Please allow citizens the means to protect themselves.
As to your concerns about drunks, etc, the laws already forbid the person carrying a weapon to drink and certainly not to be drunk. That would not be changed.

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Bill Posey

January 6th, 2010
3:36 pm

Anti-Gun advocates would have us believe that gun safety courses in school would only encourage kids to commit violence, but sex education in school doesn’t encourage kids to have sex. Or that suggesting teachers be armed is outrageous which is why the Swiss and Israelis do it. Or that making it harder and harder for even cops to have guns on school property will make it harder for lunatics to kill the utterly helpless students.

I have never heard of a lunatic shooting up a gun show or a police station.

Please, Ms. Downey, use your abundance of common sense.

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Robert

January 6th, 2010
4:12 pm

Maybe you should be included in every lawsuit where an innocent child/student is gunned down on a Georgia educational campus or someone is gunned down in a church. Cops do not stop murders. They only investigate them AFTER THE FACT. What words of comfort are you going to tell grieving families when they ask why you supported forcing their dead children to disarm to get a higher education in their own state? What are you going to tell families of gunned down church members when they ask why you and the government could not keep them safe when you demanded they give up the right to defend themselves? People with carry permits are not the problem. How many people arrested for serious crimes with a gun had carry permits? If there were any then how many had those rights revoked in your state? Are they still legally carrying today? How many drunk college kids went on killing sprees as you suggest? How many anyplace in this country? How many serious crimes are committed with guns registered to the current owner? I’ll bet the ones you find are husband and wife disputes and not much if anything else. Maybe people who are married should be banned from gun onwership as long as the marriage lasts. But then how many homicides in marriage will you see by knife or whatever else? Of course to own and carry a weapon you should demonstrate responsibility but then that is exactly what a criminal by their actions do not demonstrate. Need more be said on the subject?

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Rifleman

January 6th, 2010
4:16 pm

Far more damage than guns carried by CC licensees has been done by reporters who use the First Amendment as an Absolute to spout their calculated misinformation and to further their personal and political agendas. Guns are not nearly as dangerous as today’s self-styled journalists, public information officials, Senators, Representatives, or, for that matter, even the President of the United States who FEEL this or that way and expect us to accept that their FEELINGS are Gospel. Once an idea has been implanted and presumed proper and true, action certainly follows. Convince enough Americans that they ought to feel guilty about their wealth and it won’t be long before they’ll surrender their money and freedom to those who claim to know better. The First Amendment grants CARTE BLANCHE to anyone to say virtually anything (short of shouting “FIRE!” in a crowded theater) with absolutely no adherence to the principle that the Truth should be the motivation and the boundary of what is said or published. Lying has become a way of life for the vast majority of talking heads, columnists and reporters who work overtime to create an image, a perception, a particular point of view, so that the unwary will adopt their version of what IS. Yes, a person with a gun who intends to do harm can kill or injure but what passes as Freedom of the Press has been bastardized into calculated manipulation to reduce this nation to a flock of obedient sheep, subject to the whims and directives of an omniscient Central Committee. Criminals with guns kill fewer people each year than DUI (although the number consistently drops in proportion as States adopt CC laws) but there are countless “reporters” who ignore that fact for the purpose of damning guns and anyone who owns one. What “journalism” has become in America is an unbridled, deliberate, calculated drive to steal the God-given freedoms confirmed in the first Ten Amendments. Just because a person has a college degree in Communications is no guarantee that that degree will be properly applied. If gun owners must be licensed because they aren’t to be trusted, how much more should the same rubric apply to those who try to steal and then to manipulate a free people’s thoughts toward surrendering their freedoms? Again, once an idea is implanted and assumed to be true, action will surely follow. I say, license journalists and their computers! Put them through a background check every time that they seek to buy a new computer. Require them to register their keyboards! Allow them to print no more than one article per month. Demand that they carry their federal licenses on their persons and to show them on demand to local, state or federal law enforcement. If there are to be “reasonable” restrictions on the Second Amendment, the same should apply to the First. Sauce for the goose.

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Chase

January 6th, 2010
4:45 pm

Regarding HB 615 – Just because a bill would limit the places a LAW ABIDING citizen can carry a firearm does not mean a criminal will pay any attention to it. The places where someone would need a firearm the most would be all types of a public gatherings where there is a large number of people. People are crazy and when you have that many in one place the chances of something criminal happening increase dramatically. Especially to and from these so called public gatherings that can sometimes be in not the best parts of town. I prefer to be armed and protected at all times, not just when the law says I can be. Police officers aren’t limited to where they can carry their firearms. Are they better than the average citizen? Do you really believe a cop can shoot any better than a regular citizen who trains regularly? There’s no jedi mastery of a firearm that comes with wearing a badge. Citizens with a Georgia Firearms License should be able to carry their weapon where ever a police officer can. It will save lives, not encourage more violence.

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Neal

January 6th, 2010
6:03 pm

HB 615 will help bring some sanity to Georgia law. Its roots lie in the Jim Crow era, its intention was disarm those people they saw as threats-the black citizens of Georgia. Today the real risk is the predators who prey upon law-abiding citizens. Fueled by drugs such as crack and meth, they are increasing violent. It is clearly increasing necessary to protect ourselves, not only in our homes but on the streets, at “public gatherings” where predators find plenty of prey.

Citizens who have applied for and received a license to carry a firearm have to undergo a very thorough background search. But probably more importantly, the criminals don’t care about laws. They carry firearms with utter disregard for licenses, age, criminal background, etc. They don’t pay attention to “gun free zones” like sporting events, schools, even churches. If they want to prey in these areas, they will do so regardless of any law to the contrary–no matter how well intentioned that law may be.

HB 615 will give those of us who do choose to protect ourselves and our families a better chance to withstand predatory criminals. Would I like to have a law enforcement officer by my side at all times? Of course I would, but there just aren’t enough cops. So I keep a pistol by my side. If a policeman is nearby, great! But if not, I’ve got my firearm.

Would you like to go into a place where police aren’t allowed? I didn’t think so. Similarly I do not relish going into an area without my pistol.

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CM

January 6th, 2010
7:39 pm

The current “Gun Free Zone” statutes aren’t preventing armed robbers, murderers or other violent criminals from preying on law-abiding citizens. In fact, the current statutes only encourage such mayhem.

Instead, why not try giving the law-abiding a chance to defend ourselves and not be victims? Pass HB615 into law.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7pGt_O1uM8

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Roy Colquitt

January 6th, 2010
10:07 pm

I agree completely with CM. Gun free zones invite criminals to commit crimes because they have no respect for the law anyway and feel safe because they know law abiding citizens will be unarmed. Please pass HB615 with no restrictions.

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Mike Harris

January 6th, 2010
11:26 pm

In support of HB615. To me, it’s the only logical, reasonable, sane thing to do. It’s a no-brainer that we as Georgians are far right of these many states that are less restrictive except on this single-one issue. That tells me that Georgians are victims of government that is not representative of Georgians. What can possibly be the hold-back for Georgia to simply go with common sense? I’ve been a licensed carrier for many years with no incident; I have a 16yo daughter who I have taught gun usage and safety. If she chooses to go to GA Tech, I would not feel comfortable if she did not have the advantage of licensed carriers to protect her. I would like the knowledge that guns are in the hands of legal people to be in the minds of crooks, they would think at least twice. If that were front-page news, I think they may be much less likely to attack. Also, It’s been difficult for me for years to determine just where I’m legal here in my home state. HB 615 is just what is needed to make sense of GA gun laws and to help define it for us all. Please, HB 615 is just a little common sense.

Please, Maureen Downey, consider all the facts, be honest with yourself, then use your position as you do to influence. I hope you will focus on the honest part.

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GCO Member rlh1957

January 7th, 2010
1:21 am

As Ray posted earlier. on the passage of HB615…
Passage of HR615 is essential in order to eliminate, once and for all, the leftovers from the Jim Crow law days. That’s when Georgia passed some of most restrictive and unconsitutional gun laws in the nation. These laws were not intended to restrict or control white citizens (I’m white by the way). The idea was to control black people (by selectivly enforcing the laws against the black folks), and still complying with the Federal requirements for readmission to the Union.

I can’t believe that the various civil rights and human rights organizations haven’t pounded the Georgia Lawmakers and demanded that we abolish these laws that were passed to control, suppress and degrade blacks.
I already knew the letter of the law, but I didn’t realize why it was passed and what it meant until GCO offered the law and the history behind it. I was appalled that I lived in such a backward state that would keep such laws on the books. I will stand up to anyone and fight for what is right.

If I have passed all the required tests and checks to legally obtain a firearm and to carry a firearm why would I suddendly go crazy when I cross onto a campus. Could I not just as easily as a deranged person walk onto a campus with a gun or any other place for that matter and gun down innocent people? The law as it stands now only allows for criminals and law enforcement to carry guns on campus. LE can’t be everywhere at all times and criminals don’t usually phone in their plans so that LE can be there waiting… and 911 response time on one second is one second too long when the gun is in the illegal possession of someone intent on harm.

In Israel every school and school group on field trip has at least one armed individual with them at all times to thwart any crazy from bringing harm or threat to the students. And they aren’t carrying concealed. The gun is usually in plain view for all to see. So many times have I seen one carrying an automatic weapon strapped across their chest as insurance.

This law will allow teachers or other law abiding citizens who are licensed to carry to protect against another Columbine or other threat.
The criminals will carry no matter what the law is. Let’s equal the playing field and perhaps discourage and make a criminal think twice about their action.

The US Contitution provides for us to “Keep and Bear Arms”… It doesn’t say that I have to keep my arms only at home, or that I am restricted in where I can have them.
I also was under the impression that states were prohibited from passing laws that circumvented or conflficted with Contituitional Rights. However we see states doing just that.
It seems the Constitution is only constitutional when it is convenient or goes along with the feeling at the moment in a state.

Thank your frank and honest writings. You can’t please everyone all the time, or have everyone always agree with your view, but at least a reader always knows where you stand and you don’t waffle on your views or beliefs. I appreciate good journalism and at being unbiased when reporting a story.

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Dwayne

January 7th, 2010
8:27 am

Hello Maureen,

I am a 20-year veteran educator, certified in the state of Georgia. I also own guns and am in support of HB 615, HB 819, and any other bill proposing to lift restrictions that currently prevent law-abiding people from properly defending themselves in public places.

Because I teach in public schools, I’m able to see the gun issue from a different perspective. I will try to keep my comments brief by sticking to three main points of interest: Facts, Bad Laws, and Civil Rights.

Facts: Let’s stick to them! One of the things I’m most proud of, coming from a pro-gun point of view, is that the arguments posed are usually supported with hard data and statistics. Generally, when a pro-gunner poses a debate, it is void of emotion and mythological hysteria. On the other hand, when anti-gunners pose their debates on the issue of guns, there usually aren’t many facts to back up what they’re saying. Occasionally, when certain facts are introduced into the debate, they’re usually biased and skewed. Let’s take the time to examine the data from other states where these types of restrictions on guns have been lifted and see how they have fared, before passing judgment against bills like HB 615.

Bad Laws: “Guns are dangerous but myths are dangerous too. Myths about guns are very dangerous, because they lead to bad laws and bad laws kill people.”- John Stossel. Part of the controversy is that if guns are allowed in school, violence will increase and the safety of innocent children will be jeopardized. Ms. Downey, for 15 years I’ve been responsibly carrying a gun to school. Each day I drive to work and lock my gun safely in the glove box of my vehicle. The law doesn’t require me to do so but I also disassemble it. Likewise, other teachers in my building, who legally carry, bring their guns to school each day. In 15 years, I have yet to see how this has jeopardized the children’s safety. However, I have seen my safety, and the safety of others, jeopardized by the inability of responsible adults being able to properly protect themselves against a rogue gunman. I’ve lost count, over the years, of the number of students we’ve found with guns in the buildings I’ve worked and back in the 90s, a teacher in my system was actually shot and killed by a student, during class! How many more Columbine like scenarios do we need to see, before we make changes to the current gun laws? For certain, if we continue to do the same things the same way, we’re bound to get the same results. It’s time for a change.

Civil Rights: On the note of change, let’s remember that the right to bear arms is a civil one. Ironically, most of the people who marched with Dr. King are anti-gunners. I’ve never understood this. How can anyone be willing to fight (march and go to jail) for the right to vote but then want to deny others the right to tote? If you objectively research the origins of gun control, you will discover that the objective behind these restrictive laws was to keep guns out of the hands of the black man. That was the premise behind our current Public Gathering Law (16-11-127-research the Camille Massacre). Ms. Downey, are you aware that Dr. King applied for a Georgia Firearms License and was denied? Do you think perhaps the reason was because he was too short? I seriously doubt that and being the intelligent woman you appear to me to be, I’m sure you do too. Because he publicly advocated non-violence, most people fail to realize that privately Dr. King was very much pro-gun: “….a violent confrontation in Mississippi. We had neither the resources nor the techniques to win. Furthermore, I asserted, many Mississippi whites, from the government on down, would enjoy nothing more than for us to turn to violence in order to use this as an excuse to wipe out scores of Negroes in and out of the march. Finally, I contended that the debate over the question of self-defense was unnecessary, since few people suggested that Negroes should not defend themselves as individuals, when attacked. The question was not whether one should use his gun when his home was attacked, but whether it was tactically wise to use a gun while participating in an organized demonstration.”- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? (Chapter II, “Black Power”, Page 27, Harper & Row Publishers Inc., First Edition, 1967). Even Dr. King realized that there are times when guns are necessary and he respected the rights of others to exercise their civil right to properly defend themselves.

I’m not saying we all have to agree on this issue. However, we should all be respecting one another’s rights. As a law-abiding person, I have a right to carry a gun and use it to protect myself and loved ones. If part time city judges can be exempt from the Public Gathering Law, I should be also. My life is worth every bit as much as a part time city judge.

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George

January 7th, 2010
10:39 pm

I am in favor of laws that increase the rights of law abiding citizens to defend themselves from harm, such as HB615. I think that those of you who are uncomfortable with gun ownership worry too much about permit holders, and not enough about criminals.

Permit holders go through a fairly tedious process to get a carry permit. We are subjected to criminal background checks to confirm that we are not violent troublemakers. That is why in the dozens of states that have made carry permits available, there has never been an increase in crime as a result of law abiding citizens gaining the right to carry. It just doesn’t happen.

Gun free zones are mostly pointless, because there is no real enforcement. If some deranged person wants to shoot up a restaurant or a church, he will not refrain from doing so just because it is against the rules to carry a gun there. The very idea of that is silly.

Clearly there are places, such as courtrooms and the secured areas of airports, where people should not carry guns. At courthouses, you normally have to pass through a metal detector to get in. It’s the same situation in the secured part of the airport. That is a sensible system.

There are too many “off limits” areas in Georgia, and they are poorly defined. This needs to be straightened out.

Law abiding citizens don’t cause gun crime. Years of experience in Georgia and dozens of other states prove that.

And criminals don’t CARE what the law says.

George

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John Lappington

January 8th, 2010
11:15 am

I have had a carry permit for about two years. I have both had training and continued practice. As the lack of “blood in the streets” from prior gun law changes show, permit holders are responsible and understand the consequences of pulling a gun and pointing it at someone. It does not happen unless necessary. Please try to open your eyes and take a chance on your fellow responsible citizens. We, like you, want to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.

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mike

January 8th, 2010
1:48 pm

I’am in favor of hb615 for the simple need for the laws to be clearer of where you can and cannot carry, even law enforcement officers are unclear as to where concelled carry is permitted. As to the permit process to get a ccl, you might want to the paper you write for i believe they reported a while back that half of the graduating class of the APD would not be able to get a ccl as a private citizen, but the city of Atl gave them a badge and a gun.

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Christian Stevens

January 11th, 2010
1:30 am

Maureen,

While I was in college at GSU in the mid ’90’s, I carried a gun to campus everyday. I was licensed to carry a concealed weapon off campus. Because I was in ROTC and had to be on campus by 0600hrs most mornings, I decided to make a short commute by living in a loft appartment in Five Points (not Little Five Points). I knew that I could have been expelled for carrying a weapon on campus, but frankly, I decided that I would rather be expelled than be dead. I used my weapon to defend myself or somebody else at least monthly. I and most of today’s college kids with concealed carry permits would resent your notion that we are irresponsible and emotionally unstable or drunk. Some of those college kids (almost all of the ones in ROTC) are probably more stable and more mature than you’ll ever be. Many of the college students today have more firearms experience than the campus police if they are using the Montgomery GI Bill to pay for college (veterans) as I was.

I was at the hearing on Thursday in support of HB615 because I am not a criminal and niether are the other college students that are carrying their weapons on campus to provide for the common defense. They should not be criminalized for wanting to defend themselves and others. Our forefathers knew that the right to defend oneself is a God given right.

Even if HB615 doesn’t pass, I would implore students with concealed carry permits to break the law as I did. Free men aren’t governed by your laws, anyway. They are governed by right and wrong and common sense. There is an old saying, “I’d rather be tried by twelve than carried by six.”

Pass HB615.

Rangers Lead the Way!

Christian Stevens

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david jennings

January 12th, 2010
7:02 am

Dear Maureen: I am a citizen of this State, fifty-six years old, homeowner, and voter and do not drink or do drugs. I would like to say that I am (1) not afraid of law abiding citizens who carry firearms for self defense I am afraid of the ones who could not pass the background screen that carry anyway; and (2) that I am in favor of clearly worded Statutes that do not serve as a trap for the unwary such as the undefined scope of what constitutes a ‘public gathering’.
About twenty years ago now I approached a Police Officer to inquire as to his interpretation of the wording on the back of my Georgia Firearms License as it seemed to me that, according to my interpretation, the presence of a Police Officer and myself on an otherwise deserted street in the middle of the night might subject me to a Felony conviction for illegal carry, and his advice to me was, and I quote;
…….”Better to be judged by twelve than carried by six”……..
Being ‘judged by twelve’ is expensive and time consuming and presupposes a day in jail awaiting ‘first hearing’, so; I would still prefer a transparent Statute, if that can be arranged.

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voice

January 13th, 2010
8:33 pm

Crawford Lewis apparently doesn’t like the “wear black on Thursdays” protest against his raise going on in Dekalb County. Office staff in the county schools are now being instructed to record the NAMES of any teachers or employees who dare to wear black on Thursdays (who knows whether they are actually protesting, or are just wearing black that day). Are we in the USA, or 1940’s era Germany? It will be interesting to see what happens to the brave souls who dare to excercise their freedoms.

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Educator - gwinnett

January 18th, 2010
10:15 am

How about featuring a blog on two teacher families and the affects of these furlough days? How many two teacher families are there in GA? It would be interesting to find out. I know LOTS in Gwinnett alone and no one seems to even mention the fact that all of these furlough days doubly impact us. Between my husband and I, we have lost almost $500 a month from our teacher salaries from the last furlough in 2009… now with 3 more furlough days and other pay cuts possible next year, 2 teacher families are impacted greatly. I would be interested to hear what the state board of education says about that.

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Maureen Downey

January 18th, 2010
10:58 am

Educator – gwinnett. I would love to do that — feature teacher families and the impact of the furlough days. Any volunteers? I would be happy to let one of you write an essay-length piece for the blog. (That remains a standing offer for any of you, parents, teachers, students. Send me stuff for either the blog or the op-ed education page that I put together.)
A teacher sent me a good piece a few weeks ago that touched on furloughs and I ran it in the paper today on the education page. I will post it shortly here.
Maureen

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Y2Educate

January 29th, 2010
10:17 pm

Maureen the two teacher families is a great idea. Additionally, my husband and I both have educator positions that are consistly being cut or downsized in the counties where we work. Every year around contract time is always a stressful time in our household.

On another note (please forgive me if you have covered this already), I am truly concerned by all the money that different counties are spending on various programs. It appears that these companies are profiting at the expense of faculty and staff salaries. Would we really need all these programs if the state truly believed in the CRCT (for example) and truly trusted the data results. In other words, if a student fails the test in Spring, falls again during summer school, then is granted an appeal to move on to the next grade even though he/she is behind grade level, (sometimes as many as 3-4 years behind) how is it then the teachers’ faults when after a year of these programs, the student isn’t performing on grade level. If we truly trusted the testing data results as well as progress reports, diagnostics tests, performance tasks, etc. then wouldn’t it make sense not to promote a student who is not ready to learn the standards for the next grade level. If it is not already being done, it would be great if there was a way to track students who are promoted as a result of filing and receiving an appeal. The percentage of students per school district who are promoted despite not being ready for the next grade is both staggering and appalling.

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Joy in Teaching

February 3rd, 2010
8:33 am

Maureen,

Can you please follow up on this WSB story concerning a teacher complaint to the PSC about her principal changing an athlete’s grades?

Here is the link:

http://www.wsbtv.com/video/22415585/index.html

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Matt

February 4th, 2010
8:11 am

MS. Downey I would like to simply state that I support HB 615 and would like to urge you and your publication to do some “Fact Finding” in an open and honest way. I would ask simply this, research all the states that allow adult students to carry a concealed weapon on campus with a permit and tell your readers the facts. We all know that criminals are not law abiding citizens. So if they are not Law abiding citizens what good does any law to prevent guns on campus or at other public venues do for you, me, or anyone else? I do not want or intend on ever pulling a gun on anyone who doesn’t intend me or someone else harm. Would you feel good about waiting on a police responce if a maniac started shooting at you oldest childs college? Remember how long it took at Columbine or Virginia Tech.Only minutes away will not help you if the bad guy is coming for you next. Don’t be afraid Be prepared!

Respectfully, Matt

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watching closely

February 11th, 2010
10:34 pm

Maureen I have enjoyed your coverage and insight about the
Commission Charter Schools. It never ceases to amaze me how
much research good journalists do so that they can accurately
portray facts. Your opinions are fair-I may not always agree
with you but you are solid in why you feel as you do.

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Diane

February 15th, 2010
4:56 pm

Have you considered running for governor or for head of the education department? You truly understand the frustrations of teachers.

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Jessica

February 17th, 2010
10:15 pm

Ms. Downey, I am a student in Acworth, Georgia. I would like to know your address to send a business letter to you. This is school related. And I would very much aprecitate if you would respond to me by e-mailing me at meipandafan@aim.com. Thank you, Jessica.

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HS teacher

March 3rd, 2010
8:20 pm

Maybe you can help me find this info. I want to know, by county, how much money each teacher furlough day “saved.”

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ohgeez?!

March 11th, 2010
6:23 pm

Maureen,

I found your final statements in your recent ajc.com article on hr1219/sr955 to be either intellectually dishonest or simply coming from an uninformed place.
There’s a world of difference between college recruiters and military recruiters. One difference is the enlistment contract. Most people are not aware that it’s a unilateral contract. It totally binds the enlistee and there is no real binding for uncle sam. Uncle sam can change the terms of the contract at anytime and the enlistee can do nothing about it. Enlistees are often told that they can join for 2,4,6, or 8 years. The enlistment contract binds you to service for 8 years. That means you can be called back to duty anytime within the 8 year period. During times of war you can serve even longer if you’re stoplossed(back door draft).
That’s not even to mention that veterans make 15% less then their non-military serving counterparts when they come home, 1/3 of homeless Americans are veterans, only 1/5 of veterans ever receive a college education, and 1/3 of female veterans report being sexually assaulted while on duty.

If a young person decides they don’t wanna be a plumber, or that they chose the wrong college they can leave and try something else…it’s their life.So no, I don’t think there is any contradiction in Veterans for Truth’s e-mail to you.

Further more, our military’s recruitment machine should be totally focused on kids 18 years or older. If recruitment operations continue to aggressively target high school kids(especially low income communities) then there should AT LEAST be a simple standardized Opt Out system for parents that want their children taken of the recruiters list. That’s really all this non-binding resolution urges school districts…….I’m just interesting that anyone would not be ok with that.

While I understand that you had no issue with recruiters having access to your child, is it unbelievable that there are other many parents in this state that would either prefer that they don’t? Perhaps there are yet other parents that simply want to be present and participate in the discourse between a recruiter and their child?

Tim Franzen
Peace Building Program Director
American Friends Service Committee
http://www.afsc.org
404-414-5521

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Russ Hill

March 15th, 2010
12:53 pm

03/15/2010-12:00 am

Hello Mrs. Downey,
I like most of the ideas that President Obama has brought out but I do not like Mr. Obama’s idea when it comes to punishing only the lowest 5% of bad schools.
The criticisms of the NCLB program has a clever sound but not factual.

1. “It just causes us to teach to the test!”
My response it that at last we are teaching to some kind of goal and we have accountability. Before there were no goals and no consequences for lazy teachers. They became popular for their easy classes and principals had not solid way to hold them accountable.
2. “No Child Left Behind”, is not about learning it is about testing!”
This clever idea makes you think that kids don’t learn anything but testing. Wrong! The measurements show that our kids are improving and yes, our standards need toughening a lot.
3. Mr. Obama is quite right to recongnize talent! However only punishing the very worst 5% means that most schools can go back to giving kids inflated grades and easy classes. You cannot get something without hard work. Our worst teachers are lazy and undermine those that teach. Without the stick to the carrot many schools won’t strive to win scholarships, instead they go back to the easy life of mediocrity.
If a speeder is punished only if he or she is going 120 miles an hour and great drivers are rewarded, do you really think the rest won’t speed like crazy?
4. As a thirty-year veteran of teaching, I can tell you that after the NCLB provisions were enacted I saw some of the worst teachers decide to retire. They were not able to handle the idea of doing an honest days work and being held to a standard! That is no exageration and yes, I chortled to see those hateful people finally get justice!
Finally, I will say the main point over and over. You can’t get great education without hard work!
If kids are not working hard and stressing a little about grades then they are not learning. School should never be about making them cozy and comfortable. It should be about making them feel like they don’t know enough and need more! They have to be challenged and criticized too.
Mr. Obama keep the stick and just add the bigger carrot!

Sincerely,
Russell D. Hill
Teacher

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Steve Jones

March 17th, 2010
1:16 pm

Hi there! I have a suggestion for helping with the current budget crises, and for helping teachers out if the Governor’s proposed performance pay plan for teachers. If teacher’s are going to be “paid” based on how students perform in school, then they need help from us, the parents. In order to get parents more involved in their procreations (I can’t believe I have to type that! All parents should be involved…), then apparently they need some incentive. All parents receive a $1,000/child tax credit from the federal gov’t. This needs to be tied into their child’s performance in school. If a child does not perform to the standards required by the school (based on whatever fictional criteria they are coming up with), then the parent does not receive the “credit” for that child on their tax returns. I know that this idea has no chance of ever passing, because Joe Parent doesn’t like being told that they have to be responsible for their child. They would prefer to find someone else to blame for how their child is doing, like the overworked, underpaid, under-supported teacher that spends more time with their child than they do.

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Email Rally!!

March 18th, 2010
8:43 am

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=375107158916&ref=nf#!/event.php?eid=375107158916&index=1

Stand up for the power of education, and demand that our state legislature make necessary investments in the future of our state!

Please send your legislators (courteous) e-mails to let them know that you oppose any further cuts to the funding of the USG. To find out who your legislators are, visit http://www.votesmart.org and enter your zip code. It is vital that they hear from you!

This is an opportunity to advocate for your own future. PLEASE take a stand.

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Debi West

March 23rd, 2010
1:54 pm

Site Sculpture Project by Moses Lee:

Debi West, our art teacher, received the Woodruff Arts in Leadership Award last spring. That award came with a $2500 cash prize that could be used for an art initiative.
Mrs. West contacted Young Audiences to see if she could get Jeff Mather, nationally recognized site sculptor, to come here and create a site sculpture with her art students and the autistic students at North Gwinnett. The PTSA donated the additional $300 for this project. And a private donor gave the additional $300. The sculpture would be built to honor these 2 groups of students in memory of her son, Croy West.

Mrs. West got in touch with Mr. Mather and they planned on beginning this project in March of 2010 to celebrate National Youth Art Month! The theme for the state Youth Art Month celebration was “G3: Georgia Goes Green” and that concept went into the design process.

On March 1st, 35 students met in Mrs. West’s room with Mr. Mather and began to brain storm ideas and sketches for this vast project. They discussed the different things that Croy enjoyed, discussed the whole “going Green” idea and by day 3, they had over 50 proposal drawings! They walked the courtyard area and “felt” out the best place to erect this sculpture. This collaborative project then began to take shape as students, both art and special ed, worked together to come up with 1 big idea…an idea that would ultimately become a permanent fixture at North Gwinnett.

Mrs. West contacted many local businesses to see about getting in kind donations for this project. Everyone she asked came through big time! Suwanee Lumber Company donated over $600 worth of beautiful woods, walnut, mahogany, oaks, WOW! Home Depot in Suwanee donated $150 and Home Depot in Buford donated $250, Ace’s Hardware in Buford donated $40, Pheonix Metals in Norcross donated a $300 piece of aluminum and Sherwin Willaims in Suwanee donated over $100 in varnish and brushes! The cheerleading banquet even auctioned off photographs and raised $125 for this project! This was definitely a community event in the making!

On Friday, March 5th, students began to break ground and put in the foundational support beams with quickcrete and 14 foot red cedar four by fours!

The next week was spent cutting, sanding and prepping the wood for the final installation! The best part was that while this was going on, the school decided they wanted this sculpture to be the focal point to a new outdoor classroom. The art teachers also discussed getting more art students involved and will begin a tile mural “painting” around the perimeter of the “classroom”.

The final sculpture represents “overcoming your fears” as well as Croy’s love of surfing. The symbolic wave represents the “wholeness and oneness of a school”, “being life long learners” and “moving freely around your environment”.

It’s been an amazing experience…in memory of an amazing child who inspired us all to be the best we can be every day and to never judge others. We hope you all enjoy it as much as we enjoyed creating it!

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Brian

March 25th, 2010
9:09 am

re: psc head–
‘a’ is for arrogance. what arrogance one shows when assuming they are in your head understanding your very motivations. what is it called when you lump everyone together…
‘b’ is for–well, it comes from a bull. YES, i wanted paid more. YES, had i not had a wife, two children, a coaching position, church and community commitments–i might (probably not) have looked for the most academically challenging and related program. YES, my STUDENTS ARE MUCH BETTER OFF b/c of my advanced dergree–reason? i am a grrreat teacher and b/c of the opportunity to increase a sucky salary to acceptable level I stayed in the classroom!

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GHP announcements

March 26th, 2010
9:51 am

Hey Maureen,
Governor’s Honors program finalists were announced this morning. This would be a small positive highlight for the state school system amid budget cuts and firings, etc.

snipurl.com/ghp_doe

the list:
http://admin.doe.k12.ga.us/gadoe/blogs/ghpblog.nsf/2/CBRE-83WH72/$File/2010GHPFinalistsPub.pdf

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karin

March 31st, 2010
12:24 am

Please help get the word out to parents in Cobb County that their opinion on school budget cuts can be voiced through a survey available starting right now through April 19th at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/09hgx8f or from the Cobb County School District website: http://www.cobb.k12.ga.us/

Education is on the line. The Cobb Co. School Board has issued a survey that may go right under the radar. Announced today, 3 days before spring break and open through April 19th, this survey is one critical step in voicing concerns to cuts that will change the face of our public schools. In one internally released document from Cobb County it was suggested to consider completely cutting Art and Music in elementary schools. The survey skirts over this specific issues by stating cuts in programs in a general manner. Parents that want their children to continue having art and music can voice their opinion on the survey.

One cut that is starting to be discussed outside of the school districts by parents that appears to have support is cutting testing. No testing in K-2 and one standardized test per year for all other grade levels. Can we go back to how generations learned before all the testing, when thinking was encouraged? A discussion group has just been formed, Cut Testing Not Teachers on Facebook, to openly discuss this and other cuts. With no access to parent e-mails through the school system, phone calls were made to get a general idea of thoughts on this issue. Through phone calls, 100% of parents agree that some of the testing should be cut and the funds reallocated. Time will allow this new discussion to take place.

Please consider polling your readers concerning Cut Testing (1 per year) / Not Teachers

I am just an outraged citizen that is fed up with the wasteful spending, pet projects, and complete lack of effort by the politicians in Ga. concerning Public Education. There is plenty of funding to provide an excellent education including Art and Music for the children in our state if all wasteful spending & pet projects were brought to an immediate halt and funds were reallocated for the good of the classroom.

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hate the tests

March 31st, 2010
6:16 pm

Maureen,

Have you seen or heard anything about the Common Core Standards? They were first mentioned by my principal last Wednesday and now we’ve received an email that they have already been adopted (or pretty much so). This comes even before we have had a chance to complete our comments on them. What gives? Why is Obama in such a hurry to get these in place? After we have spent so much time on the Georgia Performance Standards I just don’t understand why this is so rushed.

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bruce nygren

April 5th, 2010
9:22 pm

hb 615 and similiar laws are needed. 15 years ago college rape was a common occurrance on campus parking lots. Instructors were asking that students carry 22 rifles as to help a lady in distress. Georgia laws do not support student rifles in trunks. Concealed weapons and weapons locker are a better choice. Choices of use will be with the user. My bet is the more concealed weapons around better choices will become a way of life. This is the main thought I believe of having police and military. people will make the choice of carrying in safe mannor. Or leave weapons in safes at home. Perhaps a law requiring all weapons holders to have gun safes at home. Would be better choice than banning weapons carry. Through the years careless gun owners at home have really caught my eye.

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Dana P.

April 14th, 2010
1:09 am

Great news for K-8 intown Atlanta students! We are ENROLLING students NOW! After 4 years of hard work by intown parents, professionals and community leaders, we are thrilled to announce that The Intown Academy is enrolling students throughout April for our first school year beginning this August 8, 2010. The Intown Academy is a new, K-8 free public charter school recently approved by the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) and the Georgia Department of Education. The Intown Academy will serve K-6 students residing in the APS school zones this fall, building to a K-8 school within the first 3 years. We have grown even more committed in our vision and purpose over these past 4 years, and have responded to the ever changing landscape in the intown Atlanta area, and the changing needs in education in this area. We remain committed to bringing a world class education to every student. We will couple the International Baccalaureate program with EdisonLearning’s Four Cornerstones curriculum, serving the diverse needs of every student in this diverse school. The school will be located at 386 Pine Street, 30308 and sits adjacent to the beautiful Central Park overlooking downtown Atlanta. Come by our enrollment office at 572 Edgewood Ave., Suite 118, Atlanta 30312 to enroll now (across from Thumbs Up Diner and in the Dynamic Metal Lofts retail space), or call (404) 668-0184 or (404) 668-0939 for more information. See http://www.intownacademy.org or call (404) 270-9788 for more information.

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Ellie

April 17th, 2010
2:37 pm

Maureen

Could you do a blog on the possible underfunding the TRS? It’s been in the paper with the retirement associations say they’re fine and Forbes and other news sources (and AJC) saying not necessarily. If this is true the ramifications are huge both for education and retirees. (I know these are obligations the states owe but I don’t see how they are not going to renege on parts)
AND…these bad numbers don’t address the added cost of our medical benefits so who knows what the underfunding really is!

Here’s from the blog of one of the authors of the original story in forbes that the ajc used.
http://stuartbuck.blogspot.com/

thanks and keep up your fabulous reporting…teachers at my school read you daily now!

New Report on Teacher Pensions
Yesterday, the Manhattan Institute and the Foundation for Educational Choice released a report written by me and Josh Barro. The title: “Unfunded Teacher Pension Plans: It’s Worse Than You Think.” The main finding:

According to the fifty-nine funds’ own financial statements, total unfunded liabilities to teachers—i.e., the gap between existing plan assets and the present value of benefits accrued by plan participants—are $332 billion. But according to our more conservative calculations, these plans’ unfunded liabilities total about $933 billion.

In addition, we have found that only $116 billion, or less than one quarter, of this $600 billion discrepancy is attributable to the stock market drop precipitated by the 2007 financial crisis. The Dow Jones Industrial Average would have to nearly double overnight to make up for the present underfunding of these plans.

The meat of what we did is this: Most state plans assume that their current investments will get about an 8% rate of return in perpetuity. So that means that they set aside less money now to cover the pensions that will be paid in 2015, 2020, 2025, etc. But the 8% assumption is wrong, we argue, for two reasons: First, recent history shows that it may be too optimistic. Second, investments that have an 8% expected rate of return necessarily carry some risk — risk that the plan will actually fall short in a given year or even decade. And when a plan falls short, the burden falls to the taxpayer to make up the difference.

So we reanalyzed the teacher pension plans using the same interest rate that private plans are allowed to use — about 6%, based on corporate bond rates. When we do that, it turns out that pension plans are way more underfunded than they are publicly admitting.

Over at The Quick and Ed, Chad Aldeman has a response to our study:

States, unlike private companies, do not fold under. Indiana, which according to the authors has a DB pension plan for teachers that is only 42% funded, is not likely to go out of business and take its workers down with it. The state of Indiana can assume a riskier investment return for its pension fund than an employer like those mentioned above or any other modern private firm (and, just for good measure, it’s worth pointing out that Indiana assumes only a 3 percent real rate of return).

All this is lost on the report’s authors, who would prefer states lower their assumptions on stock market returns from about 8 percent down to 6, the standard rate used by corporations in their calculations. This would mean telling a state like Pennsylvania, which has accumulated a 9.23 percent return in the stock market over the last 25 years (as of February 2010), that its 8 percent investment assumption is too high.

This is all irrelevant. We’re not saying that when states engage in risky investments, teachers then are at risk of not being paid their pensions. The problem is precisely the opposite: Teacher pensions are guaranteed by states that don’t go out of business. But that doesn’t make the risk magically go away. The risk just ends up being borne by the taxpayer. So if a state decides to blow all of its pension money gambling at a horse race, the teachers will still get their pensions, but taxpayers will suddenly find themselves paying higher taxes to make up the shortfall (or else seeing huge budget cuts to other important state services).

In the last sentence, Aldeman cites a document put out by the Pennsylvania pension system, but that document actually proves our point. The Pennsylvania pension system may have made an average of 9.23% per year for the past 25 years, but you just have to read a bit further to see the prediction that looking forward, there will still have to be “significant and perhaps prohibitive tax increases at the State and/or Local levels.”

Moreover, to focus on the 25-year rate of return, as Aldeman does, ignores three things: 1) Past performance is no guarantee of future success; 2) the PA pension system now has less assets on Dec. 31, 2009 than on June 30, 2004, which means it lost money over a 5.5 year period; and 3) this kind of variability (i.e., risk) requires taxpayers to pay extra when investments are disappointing for years on end.

The problem with Pennsylvania, as with many other states, is that when times were flush (the late 1990s or the mid-2000s), legislators did not have the foresight to let pension systems accumulate some savings for possible tough times ahead. Instead, they decided to lower contributions to pension systems and increase pension benefits, all on the assumption that high stock market returns would magically pay for it all. But when the stock market falls, the pension systems are left with extra liabilities that no one ever paid for, and the risk ultimately rests with the taxpayer.

It’s a heads-I-win, tails-you-lose system. That’s why taxpayers need state pension systems to use an accounting method that more properly and honestly accounts for all of the risk that they’re shifting onto us.

Labels: education

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ANITA JOHNSON

April 22nd, 2010
6:49 am

Dekalb school system closing schools,however on the PATS HUMAN RESOURCE they are opening a leadership prep school in aug-2010 under retired deputy supt-DR. FRANKIE CALLOWAY at a salary of 163,000.00-this does not make sense. job cuts for media clerks,para pros main office personnel and nepotism at the highest level in a recession,mr.calloway is principal of a charter school,the son calloway jr is principal of elementary school and the daughter torrie employed by the system as well-who is next?also the grade change scandal in 8-09 is reason for frankie calloway retirement in the first place check your records you published it.check out dr calloway 404-665-3103 for human resources yet Betty Guthrie in HR denied verification this was taking place-TELL THE TAXPAYERS ANYTHING TO THROW THEM OFF-yet the truth always surfaces.

pats

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ANITA JOHNSON

April 22nd, 2010
6:50 am

Enter your comments here

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Janet Pierce

April 22nd, 2010
7:46 pm

Urgent !!! Urgent !!!
Town Hall Meeting on School Closings
Hosted by the DeKalb County NAACP
Thursday, April 29, 2010
6:30 pm-8:30 pm
(Gallery at South DeKalb) South DeKalb Mall Community Room

You are invited to the South DeKalb Mall Community room on Thursday, April 29, 2010, beginning at 6:30 pm to discuss the school closings in DeKalb County. Information will be provided on the possible impact that school closings will have on the community and other options available to the county.
For more information and to RSVP, please e-mail naacpdek@bellsouth.net or call 404-241-8006.

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Lori

April 23rd, 2010
9:10 pm

“Eliminating the cost of sports travel was the seventh most acceptable of 43 money-saver options in the survey.” If sports travel was ranked 7th, what was the other acceptable money saver options?
Has Cobb County released the results from the survey? I am eager to read what the survey showed. Thanks!

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Lori

April 23rd, 2010
10:03 pm

I am a moron… I found the surveys and ALL the comments right on the cobb county website. That was really great to see.

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GCA Contractor

April 30th, 2010
11:13 am

Please post Mr. Matt Arkin’s business email address.

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Greg

April 30th, 2010
2:52 pm

Maureen,

I’d love to see some “Get Schooled” commentary on the Dodd article today concerning pre-school proms and other graduation activities. I can’t believe how ridiculous some of the statements in that article are.

Greg Kaiser

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DJ

May 4th, 2010
9:34 pm

Maureen,
Is it common knowledge that Georgia will switch to National Standards beginning in 2011?

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ELR

May 7th, 2010
12:22 pm

Does anyone know if all the teachers in GCPS that will not be renewed have been notified? Is the notification of non-renewal or renewal being done in person by a an administrator or via e-mail? Also, are the non-renewals limited to teachers who have not obtained tenured status?

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rascal

May 7th, 2010
3:49 pm

Well, I hope to hear from the anti-choice proponents very soon regarding the court decision from Fulton today. Another victory in the long fought war against government control of our K-12 schooling. It is time for parents to stand up and demand an education worthy of a country of our standing, but not at the whims of a bureaucracy and union thugs, but at their own choosing. I ask again and again, why shouldn’t the parents of poor kids be allowed to select a school from a free market provider just like the rich kids? Never a good answer, only defensive retorts about how we have to protect the public schools blah blah blah. Failure does not deserve protection. Monopolies exist only because they cannot win in the arena of competition. Hallelujah!!!

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Maureen Downey

May 7th, 2010
3:51 pm

rascal, You posted on my bio rather than on the blog. You ought to repost on the blog itself rather than here as no one will see it.
Maureen

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AP

May 21st, 2010
11:57 am

Maureen
I have been disgusted in learning about recent extra marital affairs within the Gwinnett County school system specifically. Although many administrators and faculty hear of these occurances, it seems that the higher ups turn a blind eye to what is taking place. What is the policy for administrator appropriateness in regards to this conduct? Is the education of our students being compromised by assistant principals and other administrators trying to move up the professional ranks at any cost? Are there any reprimands or consequences to deter such relationships?
While many of us are losing jobs, others are working on a different means to job security.

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Maureen Downey

May 21st, 2010
12:04 pm

@AP. Whether there are consequences for affairs depends on the system’s rules and sometimes whether the two people involved have any subordinate relationship. I think it is a system issue if managers are having affairs with people they oversee in any way. However, I am not sure the school system has too much jurisdiction over two employees with no supervisory connection who develop a relationship outside of work. Now, if the couple are dallying in the teacher’s lounge or under the bleachers on school time, that is another matter and certainly is an issue for the system.
Maureen

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Local Coach

May 24th, 2010
10:24 am

MD
We just found out a sports camp at a local DeKalb school is being effected by the Furlough Day on Tuesday. The camp will not be held May 26th. No big deal for my family since I am a teacher however it does bring up the question concerning coaching and furlough days. Can we coach a game on a furlough day? Will football (and other fall sports) summer practice be canceled during pre planning if those days are furlough days? Coaches in DeKalb need to look carefully at the proposed furlough dates. Proposed DeKalb dates are Monday Tuesday 8/2&3, Friday 9/3, Friday 10/3, Monday 1/4, Friday 2/18, Thursday 5/26. Most of these dates fall in one or more athletic season. Board votes 6/14 on the dates.

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ScienceTeacher671

May 24th, 2010
10:17 pm

Hi, Maureen: Interested in Mark Davis’ article from Sunday’s AJC about Oakwood HS in Cobb County, particularly this line:

“But its [Oakwood's] per-student costs outstrip those at the larger schools — $18,000 per Oakwood student vs. $4,900 at Pope, for example.”

The DOE website states that Cobb County spends $8,932 per pupil, per year. I was a bit startled that the figure for Pope expenditures was so low, and more than a bit startled that expenditures vary so radically from school to school.

There might be the basis for a good exploratory/investigative article and an interesting blog topic there, if we ever get another slow news day. What do you think?

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ScienceTeacher671

May 24th, 2010
10:21 pm

Maureen, did you see Mark Davis’s article this weekend about the possible closing of Oakwood HS? This line jumped out at me:

“But its per-student costs outstrip those at the larger schools — $18,000 per Oakwood student vs. $4,900 at Pope, for example.”

Looks like the cost for Oakwood is about twice what the DOE claims Cobb County spends per pupil, and Pope’s expenditures are about half the average per pupil expenditures. Is it usual to have such wide variations in per pupil spending from school to school in the same district? Would this make an interesting investigative article or blog topic?

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trying hard to be patient

May 26th, 2010
5:43 pm

Maureen,
A young up and coming Country Music singer – Katie Armiger – visited Luella High School in Locust Grove, Henry County School System on Monday, May 24. She wrote a song called, “Leaving Home” about leaving her mom to pursue her singing career in Nashville. She is 18 years old. The chorus class at Luella was chosen to sing Katie’s song at Baccalaureate on May 16. Katie’s producer, Pete O’Heeron, chose Luella to try a “flash mob”. Don’t know if you know what a “flash mob” is but you can watch them on YouTube. Katie started singing the song while walking into the band room and the senior and junior chorus girls randomly stood up and sang with her. The band and drama classes were watching along with a couple of other classes. It was a total surprise to all of those kids and most were confused but watched intently. They finished singing the song and the crowd clapped and cheered. Then the chorus teacher, Beth Massengale, explained what had just happened and said if the video was put together and it worked it would be put on YouTube with them wanting to get 1,000,000 hits. If you go to YouTube and type in Katie Armiger – flash mob – you will find the 4 minute video on the right hand side of the page. Along with Katie and her producer Pete was a guitar player name Jonathan Lawson. He has played for many country stars and has his own band, Tin Cup Gypsy. Katie and the chorus then went back into the chorus room and she sang three more songs and answered questions. She also signed pictures and year books! It was a great ending to the Senior Awards ceremony day.

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sarah

June 9th, 2010
2:13 am

THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT REGARDING MY 9 YR OLD SON BEING BEATEN WITH A BELT IN BHAM, AL. MY SON IS IN SPECIAL ED AND HAS NEVER BEEN IN TROUBLE IN SCHOOL. I AM A VERY VISIBLE PARENT IN THE SCHOOL AND AM SHOCKED THAT THIS TEACHER THOUGHT SHE COULD GET AWAY WITH THIS. HE HAS A IEP THAT STATES ALL TESTS ARE TO BE GIVEN ORALLY OR READ TO HIM . HE TOOK THIS ONE ON HIS OWN. THE SAD PART IS THE TEACHER’S MOTHER TAUGHT ME AND WAS A GREAT TEACHER. MY SON WAS HUMILIATED FOR NOT KNOWING SOMETHING. IF EVERYONE WHO DIDN’T KNOW SOMETHING WAS BEATEN WE WOULD ALL BE BRUISED ON A DAILY BASIS.

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Concerned Teacher

June 17th, 2010
4:56 pm

Why don’t you see what’s up with GAE and why they went against their members desire to support Brian Westlake?

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Retired Teacher

June 20th, 2010
4:29 pm

Maureen, re the thread about the special ed teacher in Cobb County
Many of us are curious as to whether this teacher was rehired. Some say she was, but I haven’t seen that.

Would you please go back to that thread and post whether she was one rehired. I truly hope so, but you can find out the truth.

Thanks. I know you’re busy, but I’m sure many of us would like an answer to that question.

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Cobb Teacher

July 19th, 2010
9:00 pm

Maureen,
Could you please ask Dr. Dunnigan or Jay Dillion why in the world Cobb County would issue the following edict: (I would ask them, but it would come back to bite me in the butt.)

To All Principals and Department Heads:
We have received several phone calls regarding whether employees are allowed to work on their furlough days. No employee should be working on a day which has been designated as a furlough day for them. Specifically, the question has been asked about teachers working on the furlough days, that answer is….No. Teachers will still have five preplanning days to prepare their classrooms as originally planned before the furlough days.
Please this (sic) information with your staff as appropriate. Should you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Thanks for all that you do!
Donald Dunnigan, Ed.D.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Cobb County School District
770-426-3398 Office
678-594-8613 Fax

Elementary teachers all over the county typically go in a week or two early to get their rooms set up because we know that preplanning is filled with meetings we are required to attend. There is not enough time to get the room ready and go to all the required meetings. (I do not know about the Middle or High School teachers.) We have never been denied access to the building the days immediately prior to preplanning. The powers that be are “cutting off their nose to spite their face.” There is no way we can possibly be as prepared for the beginning of school as we have in years past. Also, I called a friend who teaches in an East Cobb school and she has not heard anything from her principal about not being allowed in the building on furlough days. So, unless something changes, that faculty will be able to go in those days. Hmmm, East Cobb schools typically have the highest test scores in the county…could that be because they have administrators who let their teachers make their own decisions about the way they spend their personal time. If it’s a furlough day, that means it is now my personal time. If I want to go in and work on my own time, why would anyone in a position of authority want to prevent me from working in my room? Talk about a morale killer. We are no longer treated as professionals.

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rita

August 12th, 2010
9:52 pm

I don’t usually get involved in political discussions. I go to work and try to follow the rules of the system, state, and federal government. I work to make sure that each child has an opportunity to learn in a safe, nurturing environment. For the last few years I have become concerned about the fate of our next generation of leaders because of the statehood of parenting and education. My concerns are as follows:

1. We do too much for our children. We try to protect them from every hurt feeling, bad grade, and disappointment they may encounter in life. We are crippling our children. How can we expect children to grow into functioning adults with no experience in solving their own problems.
2. Self esteem is earned. I tell parents that children don’t arrive at school with a certain amount of self esteem. We build self esteem through acquiring new skills. Yes, we struggle as we learn, but that makes us prouder of our accomplishments.
3. We are what we do. If we play video games all day, we are a gamer. If we read, we are readers. If we study, we are good students. Parents need to think about what their children are.
4. If we experience diversity, we accept differences in people as a natural state of affairs. If we live in a community that is poor, has been poor, and seems to be a dead-end street, children will not feel challenged to work for more than they have.
5. If we turn a blind eye to criminal activity we perpetuate its existence. We become part of the problem, and eventually another victim of the criminals we have ignored.
6. We cannot depend on someone else (police, schools, WIC) to solve our problems. If there is to be a systemic change in our society, we must be the change.

Thanks for the chance to express my concerns.

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TheThornInYourSide

August 19th, 2010
6:22 pm

This is only one peeled back layer of the rotten onion. A closer examination of the APS system would EXPOSE even more of the unethical procedures covered up by the buddy system between Professional Standards and the APS officials. Once again the eye is on the South-side schools. Take a closer look at the North-side Schools. They have much more to lose in lower test scores due to rising Hispanic populations which would cause property values to decrease in certain areas. Currently, these children are segregated and bused to Garden Hills Elementary so that test scores remain high in the white neighborhoods. Beverly Hall is now paying for the unethical blind eye she turn on whistle-blowers within her own system. The retaliation suffered by employees of the Jackson Elementary School Case in 2004 was an attempt to expose discrimination, abuse of authority, and falsified misleading documentation of an Elementary School. The Blind Eye continues to support those principals in positions of authority that abuse the system while Professional Standards continue to back the fraud from the “select” schools on the North-side. Perdue’s investigation is just another attempt to keep the public’s eye on the South-side of Atlanta. Beverly Hall knows much more than she admits to. The TRUTH of the corruption on the North-side of ATLANTA is the real problem with APS. The mock investigations by the state and local governments, (just like the ones made up in the Jackson Case) are also part of the process of keeping real issues silenced. Beverly Hall is the willing pawn, but she deserves the limelight in this long overdue scandal.

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Michael McGowan

August 24th, 2010
12:24 pm

I would like to forward you an article written by Dr Terry McAteer, an experienced and respected School Superintendent now with Inyo County Schools. His answers to 5 questions are enlightening and certainly worth considering for Georgia and Atlanta public schools. The title of his article is, “American Education” and was published in the summer issue of Company, a Jesuit magazine. http://www.companymagazine.org.

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TopPublicSchoolCorruption

August 31st, 2010
7:35 pm

Atlanta-

When will the real truth finally surface???

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Dekalb Teacher

July 11th, 2012
8:04 pm

Maureen, I hope that you will look at how the Dekalb County School Board will be able to explain their recent decision to increase class sizes when our classrooms are built to hold only 30 student (we have 34 seats in each classroom). So as you can tell, 36 students per classroom breaks fire code rules and regulation. I do not see how the board can make the schools make this change. It is something that I and many other teachers wanted to ask the central office and the school board. However, we are afraid to as the only teacher who made complaints to the central office and who also called the fire marshal last year got into a lot of trouble and got sent to another school. Please help!

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Macon Teacher

July 13th, 2012
3:31 am

Is there anyway someone up there can get to the Governor, PSC or anyone to investigate what is going on in Bibb County. It’s getting worse by the day.
http://www.macon.com/2012/07/12/2092977/bibb-school-board-late-with-dallemand.html

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Celeste C.

July 18th, 2012
10:28 pm

RE: Layoffs at GPC:
Do you really know what happened to the money at GPC? What type of auditors watched the books? Why do the “little” people get fired and the crooks get to stay? I smell a big fat rat!!!. No one wants to tell the truth…

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Barry Justice

July 20th, 2012
12:42 pm

Maureen,
I would like for someone to explain to me as to why they state legislature decided to changed the ruling for retired teachers working full time in areas such as Science will no longer teach full time and can only work 49% after June 30,2013.I do understand that new teachers need a chance to teach,but how is Georgia going to find qualified teachers in the area of middle school science who would be willing to teach in rural South Georgia? You would think that someone would look closely at what areas that retired teachers are needed .I remember at one time Georgia was screaming for more science teachers this is going to be a problem next year when school system cannot find qualified Science teachers.Could they possibly reconsider this area and grandfather a program to develop those teachers with experience science teachers.Appreciate any insight on this matter.

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HS Math Teacher

July 27th, 2012
7:10 pm

Maureen: I really like your blog. I give you full license to withold any post I make that doesn’t contribute to the discussion, or is flat-out nuts. The latter is sometimes caused by a Saint Louis firm that has a bunch of big, galloping horses.

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