How and why the Georgia Senate got off to a fast start

Everyone who said in Friday’s Poll Position that the Legislature should work on education during the 2012 session got their wish on Day One. Before lunchtime, the Senate passed a measure held over from last year to prohibit school boards from using seniority as the primary consideration when deciding which teachers to lay off.

SB 184 now heads to the governor’s desk, as the senators agreed to changes in the bill made last year by the House. Democrats argued that the bill takes away local control from school boards; Republicans argued that it prevents situations in which good teachers are fired simply because they have been in their jobs for less time than others. Sen. Chip Rogers added that, because less-tenured teachers are paid less, local boards may end up firing more teachers to meet budget-cut targets if they go with a “last in, first out” approach.

The Senate also passed a relatively minor bill allowing State Schools Superintendent John Barge to hire some of his own staff, putting him on par with other constitutional officers.

If you’re looking for an explanation as to why the Senate hit the ground running rather than, as the House did today and tradition would have it, going with a mostly ceremonial first day, you could do worse than look to the on-going power struggle between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Republican senators. The Barge bill was brought up by Rogers, the Senate majority leader, and SB 184 was brought up by Tommie Williams, the Senate president pro tempore — that is, the men at the top of the anti-Cagle faction. The knock on their “experiment” in leadership last year (Speaker David Ralston’s word) was that it led to dysfunction in their chamber. It wasn’t too hard to see that they were trying to get off to a fast start this year to forestall such claims.

If there’s to be a Cagle restoration, so to speak, look for it to happen in the first few days of the session.

– By Kyle Wingfield

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63 comments Add your comment

Kyle Wingfield

January 9th, 2012
2:16 pm

Apologies for the delay in getting this post up today. I ran into some technical difficulties trying to blog from the Capitol. However, Twitter was working for me and is a good option for getting frequent updates from me during the 40-day session: @kwingfieldajc

retired early

January 9th, 2012
2:40 pm

This is a bill I could support. A “first step” in breaking up the “education is a sacred cow” mentality in this state. The GOP loses the teacher vote but…they would not get it anyway.

retired early

January 9th, 2012
2:41 pm

Oh,… and “first”.

Santa Klausen

January 9th, 2012
2:41 pm

Lets all sing like the birdies sing, “tweet, tweet tweet, tweet-tweet”.

Santa Klausen

January 9th, 2012
2:42 pm

No you weren’t first, early bird, who gets the worm and likes it, and who sings like the birdies sing. Kyle was first.

Conservative Republican

January 9th, 2012
2:50 pm

“Education is a sacred cow”? What? Aren’t we still 48th or 49th? Education isn’t even a dairy cow in this state yet.

Ayn Rant

January 9th, 2012
3:10 pm

… a running start toward what?

And just what do those measures have to do with improving education in Georgia? Wouldn’t we be better off hiring, rather than firing and laying off, teachers?

Ayn Rant

January 9th, 2012
3:14 pm

… and poor Kyle is stuck at the state capitol for the legislature session! Let’s hope he brought hip boots for wading in the political muck!

Rafe Hollister

January 9th, 2012
3:49 pm

Don’t tell me the AJC would sentence you to be stuck at the Capitol listening to these geniuses bicker at each other everyday. What deed deserves that punishment?

Hillbilly D

January 9th, 2012
3:52 pm

the Senate passed a measure held over from last year to prohibit school boards from using seniority as the primary consideration when deciding which teachers to lay off.

These things are usually confusing to me, as I think they are intended to be for most of us out here. It says they can’t use seniority as the primary consideration but does it say what they can use as the primary consideration? If not, that could leave a whole new bunch of unintended consequences. This is what the link shows, as the FIrst Summary:

A BILL to be entitled an Act to amend Part 7 of Article 17 of Chapter 2 of Title 20 of the Official Code of Georgia Annotated, relating to termination, suspension, nonrenewal, demotion, or reprimand of teachers and other school personnel, so as to provide requirements for reduction in force policies; to provide for sanctions; to provide for related matters; to provide for an effective date; to repeal conflicting laws; and for other purposes.

If you can make heads or tails out of that, you’re a smarter man than me.

JV

January 9th, 2012
4:29 pm

Please leave the dairy cows out of this. At least they produce something. Milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, butter, etc.

#occupy my desk...

January 9th, 2012
4:34 pm

Ayn – let’s just throw endless money at education since that approach seems to be working everywhere else too. That is the Democrat answer to everything, just throw money at it. The problem is that it never, ever works.

Junior Samples

January 9th, 2012
4:48 pm

Kyle,

What did you do to deserve such punishment?
Wouldn’t you rather write about Todd Palin’s endorsement of Newt? Who has their finger on the pulse of nation better than Todd?

ATF

January 9th, 2012
5:07 pm

Wow! We have major problems in this state with unemployment, poverty, depressed housing market – and our legislature is at work passing laws that will make a real difference in our lives! What a difference this will make in addressing Georgia’s needs!

Not.

Kyle Wingfield

January 9th, 2012
5:11 pm

@ Junior: Obviously, Todd only matters to the degree he’s a predictor for Sarah. But while a Sarah Palin endorsement might have mattered for Newt a month ago, I wonder whether it can still make a difference for him after his numbers have tanked a second time.

Kyle Wingfield

January 9th, 2012
5:13 pm

@ Hillbilly: The bill says school boards should decide who to lay off based on performance, though it does not attempt to determine performance indicators — that would be a long, drawn-out and (politically speaking) bloody fight. It will probably come someday, relating to merit pay, but not yet.

Kyle Wingfield

January 9th, 2012
5:14 pm

@ Rafe: No punishment. It’s important to be there and keep an eye on the proceedings…

carlosgvv

January 9th, 2012
5:25 pm

They got off to a fast start probably because the lobbyists stuffed some extra cash into their pockets.

Jefferson

January 9th, 2012
5:26 pm

Let the state finance schools totally and get rid of property taxes for schools while we are at it.

Linda

January 9th, 2012
5:39 pm

Speaking of education, did anyone else see the Broncos game last night? Tebow ran for 316 yards, had an average of 31.6 yards per pass & was viewed by 31.6% of American homes, according to TV ratings reports. His favorite Bible verse that he wore under his eyes in college was John 3:16.
Makes me want to get down on at least one knee.

Rafe Hollister

January 9th, 2012
6:08 pm

Glad you are going to be there Kyle, now we will be the first to know that Georgia now had an official state bacterium, E Coli.

Rafe Hollister

January 9th, 2012
6:09 pm

Linda

January 9th, 2012
6:56 pm

P.S. Although the regulation over-time was only 11 seconds, the quickest in NFL history, the complete over-time, beginning with the coin-toss was…are you waiting for this…31.6 seconds.

Michael H. Smith

January 9th, 2012
7:23 pm

Imagine that: Democrats arguing for “local control”?! :lol:

Then the other day in an article covering state tax reforms a Democrat was arguing for “cutting subsides instead of raising the tax rates” to make folks “Pay Their Fair Share”

Watch’em close Kyle, me thinks these are Donkeys brought in from Troy. :wink:

saywhat?

January 9th, 2012
7:24 pm

It looks like the possibility exists that to improve the bottom line, school boards will now fire the most experienced (i.e. highest paid) teachers first. I am cynical enough to believe saving money so the rich can pay lower taxes is more important to the typical Republican official than keeping good teachers.

Of course this will backfire. Talented people looking at a teaching career will decide not to when they realize they are more likely to be fired as soon as they start making a decent salary, to make way for lower priced labor. Great plan, Republicans. This will greatly improve education in Georgia.

Linda

January 9th, 2012
7:34 pm

When the “Teacher of the Year” is let go to retain the most experienced (which has happened), we have a problem.
Survival of the fittest, anyone? Performance or experience? What’s in the best interest of our children?

Michael H. Smith

January 9th, 2012
7:36 pm

On a more serious note Kyle, I’ll side with the sentiments my County Chair expressed concerning this legislative session: Hopefully our legislator will do no harm.

Then again, we got issues… Watch’em really close Kyle. :mad:

Michael H. Smith

January 9th, 2012
7:51 pm

What’s in the best interest of our children?

Vouchers that let the “public education funding” follow the student. Then and only then does the performance of education stand a chance of ever trumping the politics in education.

And I don’t want to hear another (idiot)Republican purpose more gambling to fund education.
More money will not solve the problems.

But if any other (smart)Republican purposes more gambling to aid in support of a decent State Healthcare Program that offers patients purchase options in lieu of the ObumerCare mandates I’m listening and ready to fight for the cause.
Let’s do it… before it is done to us, please?!

Michael H. Smith

January 9th, 2012
8:11 pm

oopsy… :oops: My night for typos: subsidies” instead of subsides, “legislators” rather than legislator & “propose” in lieu of purpose.

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

January 9th, 2012
8:21 pm

Or consider Mr. Obama’s favorite subject, nuclear proliferation. In April 2009, he gave a speech in Prague dreaming of a nuclear-free world. Almost immediately, North Korea tested a weapon, Pakistan expanded its arsenal, Iran moved ahead with its illicit programs, and China and Russia undertook extensive nuclear modernization schemes.

Our little tard obozo is gonna get us all killed.

Karl Marx

January 9th, 2012
8:58 pm

Oh yes, that is a fast start and a way to get rid of more experienced teachers with fresh out of school, wet behind the ears, LOW Paid teachers. What would really be good is if we could get rid of State legislatures in the same way before they can borrow more money than they can pay back. What a bunch of bozos.

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

January 9th, 2012
9:33 pm

Here is the fundamental problem facing every educator in American schools: How do I provide a world-class education to poorly-raised children?

And educators in Georgia? Good luck with that!

Georgia’s many cultural deficiencies only serve to compound the basic problem. Broken homes, alcohol, drug and meth abuse, child abuse and neglect, incest, teen pregnancy, poverty, etc, etc. are all epidemic in Georgia, accepted as part of the culture. Historically, education in Georgia, a state founded for the dregs of British society, has always been ugly, since long before the republic Georgia has brought up the rear.

The schools reflect the values of the culture. Is there really any wonder why they are so bad in Georgia?

So here’s where I agree with the so-called conservatives: Students ‘raised’ in a culture of violence and neglect (especially one that glorifies ignorance and superstition (fundamnentalism) as much as Southron culture does) face an uphill struggle regardless of the amount of money spent on their education.

Sarah Palin is my metaphor here – no matter how much lipstick you put on Georgia education, you still have a pig.

As long as we are talking about the Wasillabillies – Todd has weighed in for Newt, I wonder who Glenn Rice is endorsing for president?

I Report (-: You Whine )-: mmm, mmmm, mmmmm! Just sayin...

January 9th, 2012
9:39 pm

If it hadn’t been for Atlanta public schools cheating on their test scores, Georgia would have finished 50th instead of 49th.

Eliminate Atlanta from Georgia, an idea I am quite fond of, Georgia’s test scores would be in the top twenty, no problem.

Linda

January 9th, 2012
10:01 pm

For the last 3+ yrs., the fed. govt. has bailed out “too big to fail” banks, insurance companies, auto companies & insurance companies. Why not bail out teachers who are too incompetent to fail?

Puck

January 9th, 2012
10:08 pm

Considering the already high turnover in the teaching profession, I am comforted to know that our legislature is looking at ways to get rid of even more.

td

January 9th, 2012
10:22 pm

Come on people get real for a minute. A high school in Cobb county had to lay off the Head football coach and two assistant coaches a couple years ago and keep at least 3 phDs that do nothing more then teach their classes and go home every afternoon. We all know this can not happen again because football is King in the south.

On a serious note for a minute: Why do we need a teacher with a master degree or higher, making $60,000 plus per year teaching our children in Pre-K or K-3?

The REAL GodHatesTrash, Superstar

January 9th, 2012
10:38 pm

blah, blah, blah Curly.

Bottom-line, Georgia has a turd-whirled education system for a turd-whirled society.

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DeborahinAthens

January 10th, 2012
6:44 am

No one has pointed out the elephant in the room. How does one measure teacher performance in public schools where the teachers have to teach the children that show up. Are you going to fire the teachers in the “bad” schools in the areas where the thugs run the show? If so, you will have a never ending parade of new teachers. If you are a teacher in an affluent area that only has to teach children from wealthy backgrounds that don’t come to school hungry and tired, you will not have that sword hanging over your head. Your job will be much easier. So, all you people in the legislature that don’t know your a$$ from your elbow, how are you going to measure teacher performance in an equitable fashion???
If I didn’t know better, I would see this as a first step to dismantling the public school system. All other attempts have failed.

Really?

January 10th, 2012
7:08 am

@td We don’t need teachers with PhDs or MA/MS degrees teaching and making 60K, but it is the only way they can be paid a decent wage. When was the last time you heard ANY child with ambition and smarts say “I aspire to be a teacher”. First, in Georgia, I guess they wouldn’t use the word ‘aspire’. Second, never. Why? It really doesn’t pay. to be one.

Mr_

January 10th, 2012
7:47 am

Those who can do, teach. Those that can’t do make laws about teaching.

Testing

January 10th, 2012
8:45 am

Testing

January 10th, 2012
8:45 am

opps not that….

<a

Junior Samples

January 10th, 2012
9:15 am

Sarah only cares about Sarah.

UGA 1999

January 10th, 2012
9:32 am

Keep the Democrats out of the way and the Senate will do things fast.

Chuck Doberman

January 10th, 2012
10:00 am

“What’s in the best interest of our children?”

The children? What do they have to do with any of this other than being pawns in the game? The children don’t matter to our legislators, DOLLARS matter to our legislators… that is dollars for their own and their cohorts bottom line. Georgia is quickly becoming the leader in the field vying for the most balatantly corrupt legislative bodies in the nation, overtaking Florida and SC, nipping at the heels of Miss. and right in the rear-view mirror of Louisiana. Ironically, our voting citizens cheer and applaud as this occurs, ensuring reelection and furthering the process.
The title to this piece should bring creepy shivers to anyone observing the doings of our legislature. When it “hits the ground running” it has a purpose to it, and constituents everywhere should check their wallets and avoid dropping the soap cuz no matter what happens as result of legislative action we citizens will be paying the cost. The best Georgians could hope for would be a permanent recess and preservation of the already-corrupt status quo – like a water leak, corruption, cronyism and ignorance will not go away, it’ll just get bigger. Until, that is, the majority of we voters shake off the hood of ignorance and start listening and voting with our minds instead of our hearts. Not holding my breath

Mary Elizabeth

January 10th, 2012
10:10 am

Deborah in Athens@6:44 a.m.

Thank you for your remarks. Below are some facts regarding the relationship of poor educational results to poverty.
————————————————————————————-

Two of the three major international tests—the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study and the Trends in International Math and Science Study—break down student scores according to the poverty rate in each school. The tests are given every five years.

The most recent results (2006) showed the following: students in U.S. schools where the poverty rate was less than 10 percent ranked first in reading, first in science, and third in math. When the poverty rate was 10 percent to 25 percent, U.S. students still ranked first in reading and science. But as the poverty rate rose still higher, students ranked lower and lower. Twenty percent of all U.S. schools have poverty rates over 75 percent. The average ranking of American students reflects this.

THE PROBLEM IS NOT PUBLIC SCHOOLS; IT IS POVERTY.
————————————————————————
It should be noted that those Americans in poverty increased from 31 million to 46 million within the decade from 2000 to 2010.

To improve education in Georgia, legislators must place more emphasis on lessening poverty in Georgia.

UGA 1999

January 10th, 2012
10:22 am

Mary Elizabeth…..”To improve education in Georgia, legislators must place more emphasis on lessening poverty in Georgia.”

Citizens should place more emphasis on lessening poverty in their communities. Personal responsibility.

UGA 1999

January 10th, 2012
10:27 am

Mary….also….public schools tend to drive education into poverty.

UGA 1999

January 10th, 2012
10:31 am

This is why I like the republican idea of education vouchers.