See the attached flyer for more information!
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
· 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.
· 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.
• Next meeting: March 8, ODE, 2-4
See the attached flyer about this event on February 22nd
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 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.
· 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.
· 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.
· 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. .
· We will meet to talk about evaluation. November 23, 2-4, at the ODE Office in Tucker.
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.
• Saturday, November 2, 2-4, ODE Office, Tucker.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org 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: email@example.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: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 email@example.com.
ONGOING ACTIVITIES AND EVENTS
Articles and information about teacher evaluation:
Film Showing and Discussion: "The Inconvenient Truth behind Waiting for Superman".
For more information: https://sites.google.com/site/metroatlantansforpublicschools/