Updates


February 17th - Statewide Day of Action for Public Education

posted Feb 13, 2014, 6:03 AM by Lisa Healey

See the attached flyer for more information!

MAPS/BAT Meeting Notes - January 25, 2014

posted Feb 2, 2014, 6:27 PM by Lisa Healey   [ updated Feb 2, 2014, 6:29 PM ]

 

MAPS/BAT MEETING, January 25, 2014

  

Health Benefits Struggle:

·         They’re going back to co-pays and higher deductibles (up to $3000).  They claim that some changes are going to happen.  Check EmpowerED and TRAGIC websites information on changes since this meeting. 

·         Contact members of the Department of Community Health about your concerns. 

 

Timeline of upcoming events:

 

Monday, January 27:

 

·         9:00-11:00, EmpowerEd gathering at the Capitol

·         2:00-3;00: Committee Meeting discussion about the unemployment rights

·         4:00-6:00: Moral Monday Demonstration on Medicaid Expansion

 

Tuesday, January 28: Meeting of Atlantans Buidling Leadership for Empowerment (ABLE)  at North Decatur Presbyterian, focusing on full funding and making charter schools transparent and accountable 

Wednesday, February 5, 3:00: Public hearing on SB 280 on Stand Your Ground (Sen. Vincent Fort’s bill), in 307 CLOB (Coverdale Legislative Office Building, across the street from the south side of the Capitol)

 Monday, February 17 (Presidents’ Day Holiday): Moral Monday focus on education

Tuesday, February 18, 12:00: TRAGIC Rally on Health Insurance at the Capitol

Saturday, February 22, 9-4, UGA Gwinnett: Learn-In on Testing Our Patience: Gaining Clarity on Education Reform Issues in Georgia 

 

General concerns for all education rallies/meetings:

·         Poverty is causing problems for many students/schools. 

·         Some schools are limiting more and more what teachers can do.

·          Lack of equity in discipline.

·         Possibly 20% of children are dyslexic.  Up to 80% of kids with learning disabilities are not being diagnosed, treated, or given the right kind of learning experiences.  

·          A high school class with triple-coded students (different diagnoses of gifted/special ed, etc.) requires one person to teach several different classes at once.  Differentiation is part of Teacher KEYS.  There always has to be some kids working on their own, but they may not have any background in a topic like Economics, which they still have to pass to graduate. 

·         At the rally on education, we need teachers telling stories about the impossible expectations of teachers on them which prevent them from doing what they are trained to do.  Education Day could involve videoing stories from different people, maybe at Central Presbyterian across the street. 

 

Update on and Issues for the Learn In:

·         Early Bird Registration ($10 rather than $12) for one unit PLU

·         Will involve video tape interviews with people about their horror stories (can be pixilated for anonymity).  There are some people already filming people’s stories who might become involved with us. 

·         How teachers and students are being measured.

·          The issue of their being no student accountability and parent accountability.  Students don’t try if they know they are not being held accountable.

·         CRCT does not allow flexibility for special circumstances many students face.  We need to call for a moratorium on the standardized testing. 

·         Use the idiocy of the new idea of grading parents (new bill) to show the idiocy of how they are grading students and teachers. 

·         Issue of evaluating college trainers of teachers according to the success of their students as teachers.

·         They are restructuring post-secondary training and certification of teachers.  Tiered certification (practice teacher until x evaluations are good); real teacher; master teacher (a degree in Teacher Leadership, which turns teachers into administrators without the title or pay)

·         In this context, Teach for America and other groups like them are putting uncertified teachers in schools. 

·         ED TPA is a national standardized test to evaluate student teachers before allowing them in the schools.  To be graded by Pearson.  Unstated how it will be used, but probably grading Colleges of Education.. 

·         SLO evaluations will be coming later. 

·          Tiered teaching is different from a career ladder with a better form of measurement for different levels. 

·         We can find good and bad examples from other states. 

·         Tennessee has had a tiered system for a long time, but it does not have a punitive part of it.

·          In the new possibility, someone can move back down the ladder.

·         Principals can use all of this to hurt teachers who speak out in ways they do not like.

·         As with other “reforms,” they are making it up as they go. 

·          The assessment for the preparation program can be worse if they have more students who defaulted.

·         People don’t necessarily see the connections between the privatization and what is happening. 

·          Real life stories are what are wanted for the Learn In.  Tell them who might be willing to relate their stories, which later can be put online in various ways

 

Cityhood struggles:

·         There is an ALEC model bill being used by the many small communities that are trying to become separate cities.  It’s identical to their charter school campaign.  They judge people who show up at meetings as support when they are only there to find out what is happening.  Even though it can be hard to meet someone who is for it, the leaders are still pushing it forward.  But many people are beginning to speak out against it. 

·           A resolution in the Capitol to allow new cities (since 2005) to have their own school systems, including contiguous neighbors.  It probably won’t be passed this year. 

·          It involves class divisions.

·         In DeKalb, it’s gaining traction because of problems in the school system. 

·         Viability studies by local universities, including ones that passed three cities, each of which would include Northlake Mall.  The data was used from comparable areas.  They are invalid studies.  They’re talking about dividing the tax money between cities.  But Lakeside has more money and more Republicans and may be able to claim it with more support. 

·         DeKalb CEO Lee May is asking for a moratorium of three years or one year until they solve the inequity between rich and poor. 

 

Legislative Report:

·         Because the primary will now be May 20, this will be a super speedy legislative session, probably avoiding controversial issues when possible.

·         Because of the election and the activism of groups such as EmpowerED Georgia, the Governor has agreed to put more money for pre-K-12 education in the budget, but not enough to make up for all of the cuts.  Some of it will be earmarked and the rest of it will be distributed to districts to use as they please. 

In reaction to the discussions in the earlier Education Budget Study Commission and the Listening Sessions, House Education Chair Rep. Coleman decided on three priorities for full-blown discussions. 

              1. Flexibility: “Districts” want flexibility for class sizes, hiring adjuncts, salaries, etc. If the General Assembly does not pass a new bill [such as some version of HB 327, passed by the House but held up in the Senate], districts will have to choose whether to stay as they are (status quo), to become an IE2 district with some waivers, or to become a charter system.  Superintendents said they did not want to keep things as they are, but there is confusion about what being a charter system involves.  

              2. Title 20 Updates: Superintendents expressed about thirty specific complaints which might be addressed by eliminating some clauses in Title 20 and amending others.  It is easier for small pieces of legislation to pass if they are simply added to Title 20, especially ones that might never be allowed out of the Rules Committee.

              3. Common Core: They’ll hold special Listening Sessions as they are drafting a bill, but they are already working with the Governor, his staff, and others. Rep. Coleman encouraged everyone to be as specific as possible and to include information on what is already happening in schools. Anyone with concerns about this should bring to meetings and/or send to the Committee written documents with precise talking points. 


 

 

Bills to watch:

·         HB 717: Would ask the State Board of Education to establish rules and regulations for determining “parental investment letter grades,” measuring and evaluating whether they have returned correspondence requiring their signature and attended parent/teacher conferences, as well as whether their children have avoided unnecessary absence and tardiness and have completed their homework.  Parents of first-time students (pre-K to 1st grade) would be evaluated according to whether their child “knows” colors, shapes, letters, and numbers. Each local school system would decide whether or not to participate in this system. 

·         HR 486: Proposes an amendment to the Georgia Constitution to allow “any municipality created on or after January 1, 2005, and any municipality which is contiguous to a municipality created on or after January 1, 2005...to establish individually or collectively by local law an independent school system.”  

·          HB 704 would incorporate the City of South Fulton

·          HB 759 would raise from $58 million to $100 million the cap on income tax credits allowed for donations to Student Scholarship Organizations (SSOs) that can be distributed to students as vouchers to help them attend private schools.  (We considered that cap a major victory last year.) 

·         HB 832 would give more money to some teachers with special education certification

·         SB 283 would “authorize school systems to provide instruction on the history of traditional winter celebrations,” including displays such as a Christmas nativity scene or a menorah, as long as the display includes scenes or symbols relating to more than one religion or one that is religious and one that is secular [A manger scene next to Santa Claus?].  Although there was no clarity about what the “already acceptable practice” actually looks like, they voted to recommend that the Senate pass it. 

·          SB289 would “authorize local boards of education to adopt policies allowing for an inspirational message by students at student assemblies.” The wording was so vague that the committee decided that it requires further study and sent it to a subcommittee. Sen. Josh McKoon, the bill’s sponsor, said it was based on a Florida law passed in 2012 that so far has not received any legal challenge.  He refused to add definitions.

 

Future Meetings:

                  Next meeting: March 8, ODE, 2-4

Teach-In Hosted by Georgia NAME

posted Jan 30, 2014, 5:23 PM by Lisa Healey

See the attached flyer about this event on February 22nd 

Notes from the MAPS and BAT Association Meeting November 2nd

posted Nov 23, 2013, 11:19 AM by Lisa Healey

MAPS and BAT Association Meeting November 2, 2013

 

On November 2, 2013, ten people gathered at the Organization of DeKalb Educators (ODE) office in Tucker.  The group included members from MAPS as well as The BAT(Badass Teachers) Association. 

 

Moral Mondays

·         Moral Monday group will meet this Monday at Georgia Hill at 7:00.  There have been about 50 people and varied organizations attending. 

·         January 13 is the tentative date for the first protest, probably in the morning/mid-day at the Capitol (the first day of the legislature).

·         Moral Monday in Georgia is facing the need for a decision about the involvement of the NAACP and black church leaders.  In NC, they were on the frontline, which gave them some moral underpinnings.  But they did a lot of legwork ahead of time and organized a lot of buses so that black and white churches, rabbis, Quakers, Muslims were in the front, making it clearly a “moral” discussion.  More people were willing to be involved.  That’s sort of what is driving a lot of the communities, especially in Durham and Greenville.  Here, there are Muslim leaders but not any other religious leaders, leaving the moral aspect problematic.  We need to reach out to Catholics to encourage them to follow the role of the new pope. 

·         The Monday Platform draft calls for the restoration of public education funding that has been cut over the past ten years. 

 

Home Visits

·         The Parent-Teacher Home Visit Project involves a grant if a certain percentage of the teachers make two home visits for each student during the year.  The first visit is focused only on becoming acquainted.  A parent related the bad expectations she had of teachers before she became involved in this program.  As a result of this program, administrators will have to give up control and parents can see the teachers as creating the school instead of the administration. 

 

Druid Hills Charter Cluster

·         The wealthy elite who are driving this may insist that the Board is legally required to vote. 

·         Louis Erste is the person in charge of Charter Schools for the DOE.  We have been communicating with him, because the DOE FAQ sheet for would-be Charter Cluster Petitioners left out the key issue of the 60% being only for people who attended only one meeting.  We are waiting to see if he ever updates that.

·         Matt Lewis (the main person for Druid Hills Charter Cluster Inc.) talked about their reply to the Board’s questions and answered question.  They claim that Louis Erste (see above) told them they had done everything correctly, but an AJC article quoted Erste as saying it was an informal evaluation they do only when they have time.  The state cannot rule on the petition unless the DeKalb Board votes FOR it.  The Board raised certain questions and how they might interpret the requirement that the new charter cluster be in the public interest.

·         The District already has all of the ‘innovations” the petitioners claim they will bring.  

·         We have been encouraging DeKalb County friends to write their protest saying a charter cluster is not in the public interest.  They want to be excused of all kinds of oversight, including some aspects of auditing. 

·         The Board has set aside one hour for public comments on Monday.  Three minutes each, meaning twenty people.  Emailing them tends to be easiest. They have not put Druid Hills on the agenda for this Monday.  They’ll need a special meeting to do the vote.  Usually, on Friday at 5:00 before a Monday meeting, they post the agenda. The actual work session for other issues starts at 2:00.  At 5:30, they go across the hall for public comments and then at 7:00, they start. They send the overflow to the Auditorium with closed circuit monitors. 

·         Will the charter system would allow these schools to use DESTINY, the library management program now used by DeKalb schools? 

 

 

Atlanta Public Schools

·         The Atlanta Public Schools has just celebrated the “topping off” of the renovated Jackson High School, which is in a neighborhood that has seen a lot of recent gentrification. 

·         The new eleven-story North Atlanta High School in Buckhead is called “Atlanta’s Taj Mahal”.

·         Many millions were spent on these buildings while students and parents have been protesting the mold and mildew problem at Washington High School and the sewage problem at Washington HS and Brown Middle School (in the Washington cluster), both on the West Side where billions are being spent on the new stadium, the Beltline, and other forms of gentrifying development.  Tyler Perry has donated over $100,000 to replace the band uniforms and instruments ruined by mold, but the purchases will not happen until they know there is a mold-free place to store them. 

·         With a very complicated history, angry parents may have forced APS to allow Kennedy Middle School to stay open.  They had said that the one grade left in Kennedy (originally 6-8) needed to vote on whether to convert to a Career Academy (9-12), but they’ve just dropped that scheme.  There will be a meeting on November 12 for parents and the community to make suggestions about what should happen concerning Kennedy MS. 

·         The APS School Board elections are also complicated and significant because the new board, with mostly new members, will hire the next superintendent. [There will be three run-off elections.]

·         The APS Board election has some corporate funded candidates. 

 

Fulton County Schools

·         Fulton County is about to move their headquarters to Sandy Springs, leaving the Southside parents without any support. 

·         Superintendent Avossa spoke recently.  The people who sponsored his talk, along with STOP Gwinnett, are focusing on opposing zero tolerance policies. Avossa complained about the lack of money from the state, blaming the economy for the underfunding of public schools rather than as a long-range plan for privatization. 

 

EmpowerED Georgia

·         Matt Jones has been invited to speak to the Retired Teachers of ODE.  He reached out to GAE but did not know about ODE. 

·         EmpowerED has a plan to Fund Education First.  Four county school systems are going to have nonbinding resolutions for this.  We’ll go to legislators and make it a criteria. 

 

 

Teacher Evaluations:

·         The issue of teacher evaluation for higher ed – there are many connections between the different levels of attacking teachers through assessments. 

·         Bonuses will now be tied to teacher evaluation.  Where’s the money going to come from?  It’s a step in the direction of merit pay. 

·         The Teacher-Leader KEYS issue in K-12 has a post-secondary component that is basically the same.  Teacher Preparation Program Effectiveness Measure is the bigger piece of where we’re heading.  TPPEM will assess programs of teacher training, with 50% on how the teachers do on the Teacher KEYS. 

·                     That means 50% of a measure that has not been validated, since local education researchers were not allowed to be a part of this.  Teachers will be assessed on the GACE exam, on whether they are hired, and whether they default on their student loans. This is in line with what Obama is saying: judge higher ed on how much the students earn after graduation.

·                     What used to be NCAET (like SACS) is now the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Programs, CAEP.  The EdTPA (Teacher Performance Assessment) is connected to them.  There is alignment among that level and what is happening in K-12.  The complication is there is a history of critiquing teacher training as not doing any good.  Linda Darling-Hammond is not a supporter of Value-Added Evaluations, but her reaction to the Pearson connection to what she worked on is taking things to another level.  We don’t know who is really behind Pearson.  She has been arguing about how to gain respect for the profession.  Districts don’t have to do anything until 2015, but people are scrambling as if there is not that much time. 

·                     There is a rubric to be used to assess [future?] teachers, including videotaping of classes and a written portion which can be quite long.  There’s minimal help that can be given to the students.  It’s sent off for scoring with unknown cutoff points.  Meanwhile, the state has its own form of certification.  If Pearson’s scores say the would-be teachers are not prepared, they don’t pass.  The students have to pay $300.  It’s not clear if they have to pay each time they take it.  That will take a lot of use of school’s videotaping equipment.  The laws about privacy could create problems.  The logistics are going to interfere.  At a conference, the President of CAET had an unrealistic timeline, with everything happening in 2014-2015. 

·                     Teacher Evaluation for K-12 will be based 50% on observation and 50% on Student Test Scores.  . 

 

Next Meeting

·         We will meet to talk about evaluation.  November 23, 2-4, at the ODE Office in Tucker.

MAPS and The BAT Association Meeting - October 5, 2013

posted Oct 14, 2013, 4:59 PM by Lisa Healey

On October 5, 2013, nine people gathered at the Organization of DeKalb Educators (ODE) office in Tucker.  The group included members from MAPS as well as The BAT(Badass Teachers) Association.  The group met to discuss the state of education in Georgia, as well as to find ways we can work together.


 

Moral Monday Meetings in Atlanta:

·         Meetings are Mondays, at Georgia Ave. and Hill St. Library

·         They are covering many topics, including education.

·         Anyone is welcome.  We need as many educators as possible there.  The first action will be January 13, at the Capitol. 

·         If it grows enough, there might be caucuses/committees on different topics. 

 


 

Georgia Board of Education, October meeting:

·         Sen. William Ligon spoke to them about why they should listen to Sandra Stotsky and others who oppose the Common Core.  He is especially concerned about some “obscene” literature on the (optional) reading list and “some gaps in Social Studies.”

·         Georgia has been approved for the Race to the Top waiver.

·         They will develop a way to compare the Common Core Standards to Georgia’s previous standards and to develop a model Social Studies curriculum, but they do not expect to be able to change anything concerning these until the 2015-2016 school year. 

 

Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education/Chamber of Commerce Meeting; some highlights of the presentation by their President, Steve Dolinger:

·         Charter schools “take the cuffs off” of schools [in other words, the legislature should repeal most of their education laws rather than sending more money to the schools]. 

·         “We” aim to strengthen the birth-to-work pipeline. 

·         The new “three R’s” are Relevance, Rigor, and Relationships. 

·         Go to their website and/or call them to learn about receiving a copy of the Fourth Edition of “The Economics of Education.”  You might find their statistical charts useful even if you don’t agree with some or all of their conclusions. 

 

Update on inBloom, the Gates-funded “non-profit” developing systems for schools to share data and maybe to distribute their kind of lesson plans: They have apparently had to regroup a bit in reaction to accusations of the possibility of using private information about students in bad ways.  They, of course, say they would never do that and they seem to have some contracts with various districts and states.  They are headquartered in Buckhead. 

 

Tucker Parent Council Meeting on Charter Clusters: Matt Lewis was supposed to be answering questions from Tucker people interested in forming their own charter cluster, but he ended up not being able to come.  His substitute, Scott Bonder, is a lawyer and a Fernbank Elementary parent who turned to DeKalb Board Member Marshall Orshun when he didn’t know the answers to some of the questions.  Both of them said there was no reason to be concerned about the number of stakeholders who did not attend the voting meeting because it was still legal and many elections have even lower turnout.  Michelle [Pinkava?], the Tucker [Cluster] Parent Council President who had organized the meeting, stated that she had hoped more people would be there. 

 

Druid Hills Charter Cluster Struggle

                      ODE is still asking people to write to the Board Members and Michael Thurmond with concerns, including about the waivers.

                      Cindy’s letter has been quoted in a local free newspaper about the misuse of tax money.  Also, Mary Lindsey Lewis called it un-American, including how the voting happened. 

 

Upcoming issues and events:

                      March 17-21 is the period in which we can put a candidate on the ballot. 

                      NEA is leading a 180 Days Initiative to bring back the requirement for all districts to have 180 instructional days. 

                      Watch out for HB 327, the “Flexibility and Accountability” Bill that will change the IE2 system coming up.  It emphasizes the “grade” that a school receives and encourages improving that grade in order to receive more “flexibility,” meaning more freedom to ignore state laws and policies, whether a charter school or not. 

 

Next meeting:

                      Saturday, November 2, 2-4, ODE Office, Tucker. 

 

 

 

 

Educational Courage!

posted May 26, 2013, 6:00 AM by Jen Sauer


    Thank you to all those who attended the Educational Courage book club.  The book offered teachers and parents an avenue to share their personal stories on struggle and resistance in the classroom.  If you are interested in joining MAPS for our next book club or i-TAG (inquiry to action group), please email MAPS your ideas and suggestions


Urban Excellence Conference

posted Apr 24, 2013, 4:14 PM by Jen Sauer


MAPS presented a workshop on the importance of teacher's voice in the movement for progressive public education at the recent Urban Excellence Conference.  The workshop was well attended with a powerful presentation by professor Erica DeCuir on the history of public education reform.  The session ended with active discussion led by MAPS on how we can make cracks in the current system of over-testing.


Urban Educational Excellence Conference


Teachers Sharing Stories to Counter the Myths about Public
Education


A workshop to share what a group of
teachers have learned about the power of sharing our stories and then
discussing the conflicts they uncover between our experiences in the
classroom and the myths and rhetoric circulated by those who want to
privatize, standardize,  and deprofessionalize public education.


April 20, 2013 at GSU

Educational Courage Book Club

posted Feb 10, 2013, 9:52 AM by Jen Sauer

                      SUMMATION OF MAPS DISCUSSION OF “EDUCATIONAL COURAGE” ON JANUARY 27, 2013

 

 

These summations by Cita Cook of the main points made by some of the people at this meeting are selective, organized by topic rather than the order in which they were stated, and usually paraphrased. 

INSPIRING AND HELPFUL SEGMENTS IN THE PREFACE AND INTRODUCTION

                  Page xiv: Nancy describes a fourth grade class she enjoyed as a child that was organized as a democratic community, with everyone helping each other and making decisions together.  Every student had fun, felt cared for, and achieved some success, exactly what we all wish.

                  Page xviii: Mara’s resistance story condemns the use of rankings, competition, and rewards for either students or teachers because they lead to assumptions that teachers are to blame for any poor performance.

                  Page xviii: Mara remembers when a twelve-year old special education student was doing well until his teachers were ordered to treat him as if he were the same as any other student.  When he was not allowed the kind of support network he had enjoyed before, he failed repeatedly.

                  Page xxi: The authors hope that more supporters of public education, individually and collectively, will learn from the stories in this book how they might develop the courage and strategies to move forward.

                  Page xxi-xxii: A democratic society should provide meaningful and challenging education to all students.  Students need to learn how to participate in a democratic society.  The authors want to show what an effective school environment might involve in spite of the various problems we face, including the move to put corporations in charge of more and more aspects of education. 

                  The first-hand accounts in the book are about experiences outside of the South, often where teachers could rely on active unions and other strong organizations, but they can still help us think about how we might adapt some of their tactics to our particular circumstances.  To what extent and how has supporting public education been different in the South from what is described in the book?  What can we learn from experiences from the history of the Civil Rights Movement and other activists who struggled to support education in the South? 

 

THOUGHTS INSPIRED BY THE PREFACE AND INTRODUCTION

Barriers to Effective Teaching

                  We know that good teachers care about their students, listen to them, and make learning fun and exciting, qualities that cannot be assessed through standardized tests and that are currently being punished rather than rewarded. 

                  Both students and teachers are being turned into data points.  Teachers need to be free of No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top limitations so they can plan their classes based on the needs of their students at the start of the school year.

                  The special education classes taught by one of us used to include activities such as learning math through working on an income tax form and taking field trips.  Then the district administrators interpreted No Child Left Behind as requiring all students, no matter what their learning challenges, to be evaluated the same on standardized tests and to be considered failures if they did not perform at their supposed grade level. 

                  One of us retired earlier than expected because of the new restrictions imposed on teachers in her district.  Instead of using techniques that she knew would involve and help her particular students, she was ordered to follow a narrowly-focused curriculum as if it fit all students equally.  Teachers at her high school had to put their lesson plans on their doors and every subject had to have an End of the Course Test.  Even when she ignored some of the directives without getting in trouble, she felt too bad about what was happening to keep teaching. 

                  One of us had always enjoyed teaching until her principal forced the teachers in her elementary school to pilot the America’s Choice Program, which involves tightly scripted lesson plans.  She could no longer do effective and fun activities such as organizing her room to be like Native American and African villages or putting on musicals on history topics. On the bulletin boards, she had to replace children’s art with the standards which even second graders had to learn by rote.  The teachers tried to convince the principal to drop the program, but she was hoping to write about it for a dissertation. 

                  Requiring teachers to focus on college and career preparation from the start is another barrier to creating fun classroom activities which lead to more learning.  Students feel insecure and fearful when told to focus on their future as an adult when they are still children and have not received enough exposure to what each choice involves.  A fifth grade girl reacted to pressure to think about college by asking, “What if I just want to marry?”

                  The Atlanta Public Schools eliminated elementary school recess at one point, but it’s now coming back, thanks to Michelle Obama.  In DeKalb District, elementary schools have recess, but middle schools do not always hold physical education classes.  Some teachers purposely lead their students to lunch the long way so they can have a little relief from sitting.  Students with ADHD do worse when they have no opportunity to move around during an entire day. 

                  For many decades, education officials have imposed new programs without setting aside enough time and money to offer the teachers and students whatever might allow them to transition successfully to the new program. This has meant that even programs which might have had potential to be effective have tended to fail. 

                  In at least one middle school, teachers have not received the federal money that is supposed to allow the special assistance some students need and team-teaching.  Actually, most never see the money and are apt to be the only person on “the team.”   When a science teacher asked the principal about the money that was supposed to be distributed, she answered that she was using it only for ESOL classes since “English isn’t needed in Science.”

                  Some schools have fewer ESOL teachers than they used to have even though they now have more students.  In an Atlanta elementary school, however, there are more teachers, even though they lost 100 ESOL students.  The teachers pull students out of their classes to work with them.

                  There are more and more limits on the kind of free reading that is so helpful to students.  One person remembers how the task of reading twenty minutes a day in a lower grade led to her son becoming an avid reader. 

                  Some districts are interpreting the Common Core directions in a manner that places excessive limits on the right of teachers to assign fiction, even in Language Arts classes. 

                  Many years ago, when a kindergarten teacher was free to teach as she thought best, she put the word “look” on the board with eyes in the oo’s.  Later that day in a store, she heard one of her students point out to his mother that she was the teacher who had just taught him to read.  Teachers today seldom have the flexibility to create moments like this.

                  The reading level of kindergarten children is now being based on their ability to read on a computer, leading both the students and their parents to worry about their ability before teachers have had the opportunity to teach them in ways that give them confidence. 

                  Too many officials have established arbitrary expectations for tests that do not help the teachers figure out what their students need.  Teachers do what they can to develop and use other methods of determining the needs of individual students. 

                  Officials are not recognizing that if test scores are abysmal across one or more schools, it is probably the fault of the test, not of the individual teachers, making the scores invalid.  In at least one case the questions on a test were too difficult even for the teachers. 

                  Officials are not using test scores only for student assessment as they had promised to do.  One principal announced to a parent that a teacher with students who did poorly on certain tests would be “remediated.”

                  There has been a severe lack of money for teacher development for many years, with none available at some schools.  New York teachers can take cheap courses to stay current and to earn credits and a pay raise.  In Georgia, we pay a lot of our own money for courses and no longer receive raises for earning higher certificates and degrees. 

                  Because of these attacks on authentic education and teachers’ rights, many teachers suffer from severe depression and other physical and emotional diseases.  Studies have shown that the less control individuals have over their lives, the more they are hurt by any stresses they experience.

           

Concerns of The Corporate Leaders Who Support Privatizing Education

                  Many recent actions by pseudo-reformers have meant that more than ever, we have dual school systems divided between charter and other special schools (such as International Baccalaureate programs) that serve mostly privileged children and public schools for everyone else.

                  Corporate leaders, politicians, education “philanthropists,” and top education officials have joined in a backlash against liberal arts education that encourages students to learn about a wider world, to think critically, to question existing circumstances, and to appreciate the role of the arts and other cultural practices. 

                  Authorities have long been afraid of what might happen if all students learned to think together in new ways.  In the 1960s, a high school teacher in New York State was fired for teaching her English class students to think and write about their own lives because the administrators were certain it would lead to their being dissatisfied as factory workers or soldiers. 

                  The changing job market, influenced in part by the increasing reliance on computers (including online courses), robots, and other technological developments has not only changed what skills workers needs but also how many workers we can expect to find jobs.  Too many students are pushed into the schools-to-prison pipeline (where prisoners work for private industry) or the schools-to-military pipeline.  Because those who benefit from the current economy assume that it requires an underclass that can be moved into different circumstances, they do not want everyone to have a decent education.

                  Companies seeking profits from school districts have been an issue since at least the 1980s.  Pearson even puts its name on tests they sell to districts. 

                  The more private corporations have been allowed to push products and profit-making services on schools, the less democratic public education has become. 

                  The emphasis on “career and college readiness” in Race to the Top and the Common Core Curriculum Standards needs to add “citizenship readiness” to encourage the kind of education that goes beyond vocational and narrow academic training. 

 

Resistance Issues

                  Too often, administrators succeed at isolating teachers and other school workers by the tactic of divide and conquer.  The unions and other groups have sold us out so their leaders can keep a place at the table.  The laws against collective bargaining in the South restrict teachers further. 

                  The National Education Association is supporting the teachers in the state of Washington who are boycotting one of the tests.  Some teachers and retirees in our area responded with surprising fervor to a letter about the boycott.

                  Some retired teachers, discovering that their economic security is under attack, are beginning to speak up for their pension rights. 

                  Some teachers, classified workers, and retirees in the Fulton County School District are in the middle of a fight because the school board is trying to take control of their Pension Fund from workers’ elected representatives.  Because the School Board needs legislative support to do this, both sides are lobbying legislators.  One retiree said she is ready to picket if the legislators and board members refuse to respect the rights of the workers.  They fear that Fulton County District, like that in Gwiinett County might outsource (privatize) management of the Pension Fund. 

                  The DeKalb County School District stopped paying into the Teachers’ Retirement System of Georgia without telling anyone.  During a lawsuit over the issue, the money in an annuity plan was left without effective management.  Some district officials were just found guilty, but they are going to appeal the verdict.

                  Too few teachers in Georgia or the South are aware of how both the AFT and the NEA have helped teachers in states that allow collective bargaining and effective grievance handling. 

                  As an example of a state where the public has demanded better priorities, in Vermont subs can work one-on-one with special ed kids.  One teacher was able to take an autistic child sledding. 

 

WHAT NEXT?

 

 

                  We have agreed to have at least seven more meetings, three weeks apart, from 2:00-4:00, in Room 105 at the Little Five Points Community Center, 1083 Austin Ave. NE (enter through the front door or the rear entrance).  Each time we shall discuss about thirty pages of the book:

            1. February 17: Part One, pages 1-28 (Facilitated by Kai and Bev)

            2. March 10: Part Two, through Essay 8, pages 29-64

            3. March 31: Part Two, Essays 9, 10, and 11 in Part Two, pages 65-84

            4. April 21: Part Three, pages 8-120

            5. May 12: Part Four, Essays 16-19, pages 121-154

            6. June 2: Part Four, Essays 20-23, pages 155-182

            7. June 30: Essays 24 and 25 and the Postscript, pages 183-207


 

                  We are expecting Kelli’s Child Care Collective (KCCC) to be in charge of child care for our meetings.  Google their website to understand why you should be comfortable trusting them with your children for a couple of hours. 

                  If you would like to be on our email list or order a book for $10, contact Mary_Anne_Smith@hotmail.com. 

           

ANNOUNCEMENTS

                  Anyone who has not read or subscribed to the magazine, Rethinking Schools, should check it out.

                  A new organization for teachers in Georgia, Educators First, is doing presentations at schools to seek members, calling themselves a non-union. [New information: The two women who have organized Educators First are attending Education Committee meetings at the legislature.  They now have 2,000 members and consider themselves more politically focused than PAGE and less than GAE.  They apparently have no connections to national organizations.] 

                  The annual convention of the Georgia Association of Educations will be in Atlanta in early July.

                  The Free Minds, Free People Conference will be in Chicago from July 11-14.  MAPS and Project South have proposed a workshop on “Opposing the Southernization of Public Education.” 


WHAT’S AT STAKE IN GEORGIA? FUNDING MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS OR IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION?

posted Sep 16, 2012, 3:22 AM by Jen Sauer   [ updated Sep 16, 2012, 3:24 AM ]


Since the amendment is written in such a way that is so confusing, I believe our task is to make sure that we understand that the state will be able to override the locally elected school board members and will certainly do so in its quest to privatize schools.  Gloria

 

WHAT’S AT STAKE IN GEORGIA?  FUNDING MORE CHARTER SCHOOLS OR IMPROVING PUBLIC EDUCATION?

 

“The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.  Public education for the citizens prior to the college or post-secondary level shall be free and shall be provided for by taxation.”  This is the 8th Article in the Georgia Constitution. But in the last decade $4 billion has been cut from state funding towards public education, and it continues to fall.

 

Unfortunately, many of our youth in the state of Georgia have not been privy to an “adequate” education because of how our education is funded in Georgia.  Many urban and rural areas have not had the tax base to provide the resources such as science labs, computer labs, updated textbooks, enough qualified teachers and smaller classroom sizes. 

 

With less funding but wanting more control over spending, the state legislature passed a law in 2008 that created a state commission that would have the capacity to create and fund state charter schools.  Thus, this state commission would override the duly elected board members of local school districts.   This is similar to a law that is taking place in Michigan whereby Emergency Management Firms replace elected officials in cities, towns, school boards, etc.     So, do our votes really make a difference?

 

Seven of the local school boards challenged this Georgia Charter Schools Commission and the Georgia Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional later in 2008.  To get around this, the state leaders and proponents of charter schools would rewrite the Georgia Constitution, so in November, 2012, voters will see this amendment on the ballot.  It confusingly reads “Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow state or local approval of public charter schools upon the request of local communities?”  Local approval is already in place and we don’t need a constitutional amendment.  It will cost $430 million to create only seven charter schools.  Every charter school created dilutes resources available for public education.

 

Among those who support amending the state’s Constitution are The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), For Profits Management Companies interested in lining their pockets and those who support school vouchers and tuition tax credits to private schools.  Investors are also counting the dollars signs coming their way when privatization of public schools keeps expanding.    This is a national movement for charter school expansion and state control.  For example in Texas, charter school advocates have launched a lawsuit in Travis County to look at school finance for non-public schools.  In North Carolina a new virtual charter school program for K-12 is being proposed and it is a for-profit institution. In Missouri, the Governor signed a bill that allows for expansion of charter schools. 

 

Those who oppose this amendment are educational organizations, local school boards and the parent teacher associations and anyone else who sees that the public education system in the U.S. is at the center of its democracy.  Yes, it needs improvement but if this amendment in Georgia passes the resources will not be there to help it improve.


-MAPS

Join us for the following MAPS events

posted Sep 8, 2012, 10:47 AM by Jen Sauer   [ updated Sep 8, 2012, 10:49 AM ]


Join teachers in supporting and collaborating on Social Justice in our Classrooms for the second 2012 ItAG (Inquiry to Action Group)
in the Atlanta area.  The group plans to start in late October.  Contact Jen Sauer: chandanista@gmail.com                                                                                                                           See https://sites.google.com/site/metroatlantansforpublicschools/social-justice-in-the-classroom-itag for information on past ItAG.

Action on pro-privatization school film “Won’t Back Down” on 9/28 from 6:30-7:30pm Meet in front of the Regal Atlantic Station Stadium from 6:30-7:30pm to pass out information on the truth behind the film’s message of pro-charter schools, privatization of our public schools and the blaming of teachers. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leonie-haimson/faq-on-the-controversial-_b_1774215.html

MAPS working meeting: Open to new members 10/27 from 10am-12am in Clarkston, GA.  Childcare available.  RSVP for childcare.  Email Jen for directions: chandanista@gmail.com

Vote NO to Charter School Amendment on 11/6


MAPS working meeting: Open to new members 12/1 from 10am-12am in Clarkston, GA.  Childcare available.  RSVP for childcare.  Email Jen for directions: chandanista@gmail.com

 

MAPS Winter Social Potluck in Atlanta, GA from 7-9pm in Decatur, GA.  Meet other progressive teachers/educators in the area.  Familes welcome.  Adult and children activities!  RSVP to Lisa at misshealey@gmail.com.


ONGOING ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS


Articles and information about teacher evaluation:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/MAPS-Teacher-Evaluation-Information/181689231943870

              GREATER: http://www.empoweredga.org/Articles/greater-support.html

Film Showing and Discussion: "The Inconvenient Truth behind Waiting for Superman".

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


For more information: https://sites.google.com/site/metroatlantansforpublicschools/

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