Archives for category: Georgia

This is the story of a young man, Paul Serrato, who graduated first in his class at Apalachee High School in Barrett County in Georgia. His parents emigrated from Mexico, where they had hard lives. He too had to work hard. Nothing came easily. Paul understands and acknowledges the sacrifices that others made on his behalf.

 

He was accepted at Stanford University.

 

Here is the video of his speech at graduation.

 

Public education gave him opportunity, and he made the most of it.

 

My favorite line from his speech: “We may be self-directed, but we were not self-made.” His family, his teachers, his classmates helped him succeed.

 

This is public education at its finest. Doors open to all, without a lottery.

 

This community can be proud of its schools.

 

 

This column by Jack Hassard is referenced in the previous post by Edward Johnson of Atlanta.

 

I missed it when it first appeared. I am posting it now because it contains important advice, not only for Georgia, but for other states whose governors want to copy New Orleans and the Tennessee Achievement School District (which so far has not achieved its lofty goal of moving the lowest performing schools in the state to the top 25% of schools in the state). The model legislation comes right from the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the rightwing organization that promotes privatization and deregulation for the benefit of corporations.

 

Hassard writes:

 

The Opportunity School District, which was proposed by Governor Nathan Deal, is indeed an opportunity. But it is not in the best interests of students and their families in the communities identified as having “chronically failing schools.” The first detail to pull out of Senate Bill 133 is that this bill is nothing short of opening the flood gates for charter schools, which have been documented time and again as not nearly being as effective as “regular” public schools. These schools will replace public schools that have been red-flagged for three consecutive years. The main goal of school will be to get students to score higher on standardized tests. Success will hinge primarily on the test scores in mathematics and reading. Teaching to the test will be the main goal of schooling in the OSD.
In this Senate bill, paragraph after paragraph is devoted to describing how the state will set up a state-wide charter school district for “chronically failing schools.” But here is a real problem for Georgia legislators to consider. The evidence from the New Orleans Recovery School District is that for the most part, schools that were considered failing before they entered the confines of the RSD continued to earn failing grades, stars, or flags–pick your own symbol.

 

What Governor Deal does not confront is the connection between poverty and test scores. As Hassard shows in another post, 27% of the children in the state of Georgia live in poverty, and nearly 60% are eligible for free- or reduced-price school lunches.

 

Creating a special school district for the schools attended by children who live in poverty is a high priority for ALEC, but it does nothing to alleviate the lives of these children or to improve their schools. It amounts to kicking the can down the road. It will take a decade to recognize that this remedy didn’t remedy anything that matters. It just delayed the reckoning with the cause of low test scores: high poverty.

 

 

Edward Johnson is a citizen of Atlanta who tries to get the school board and city leaders to think of improving the system and to stop looking for quick fixes. At the moment, the quick fix is charter schools, especially the New Orleans “miracle.” This too will pass and another generation will be lost.

 

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Here he writes to the leaders of the city and the schools:

 

 

In his latest and recently published book, From School Delusion to Design: Mixed-Age Groups and Values-Led Transformation, and drawing on W. Edwards Deming, Peter Senge, Russell Ackoff, John Seddon (Sir Michael Barber’s antithesis), and such other Systems Thinkers, U.K. educator Peter Barnard begins his Chapter 3, “Complexity and Demand in Systems Thinking,” as follows:

 

“So in a public service-like school, what exactly is complexity in systems thinking terms? The answer is relatively simple. It is the huge variety of customer value demand on the school’s learning system. The value demand is all that customers need to be able to drawn down from the school to live worthwhile and useful lives. Value demand is defined by the customers and the greater ecological system to which we belong, not just by what the school and the bigger school system decides to offer. In essence, the value demand is all that allows a child to grow and develop into who he or she was meant to be.

 

“Parents tell us that what they want and value comprises a long list, the variety of value demand. Each is concerned with their unique child. ….

 

“Any failure to absorb and meet value immediately creates failure demand. Failure demand takes the form of complaints, reworking, dropouts, anti-social behavior, and (of course) a loss of trust and increases in both cost and bureaucracy. The list of failure demand is long and expensive, and weakens the school, causing it to require even more back office staff, more money, and external help. It also makes it more difficult to support new teachers and develop their expertise; the lists goes on and on. It creates a mess that can quickly become a crisis.

 

“In other words, if the school is unable to absorb the variety of value demand made on its system or simply assumes such demand is being met by the system it has, failure demand is an inevitable consequence. The school, being unable to absorb the complexity of the variety of value demand on its system, tries to control it through limitation and separation, but all that this does is increases complexity (management of failure demand) and make things far worse.”

 

Today, more than ever, Atlanta Public Schools is being managed and controlled as a “turnaround” opportunity. Unfortunately, no evidence specific to APS exists to support any assumptions the district, any district schools, or anything else about the district requires a turnaround solution. Improvement? Certainly. But turnaround? Don’t be silly. APS is a wondrously complex, multi-directional social system, where any number of matters go on in any number of directions, all at once, all the time. APS is not merely a simplistic un-directional train or automobile going in one direction – the supposed “wrong” direction, so it must be “turned around.” Simplistic solutions applied to complex, dynamic systems invariably generate “failure demand.” (Look at any corporation’s Call Center and you will see failure demand institutionalized.)

 

Even so, Atlanta school board members and superintendent cling to school reform ideology’s simplistic “turnaround” delusion. They do this because they think only to try to manage and control and ultimately standardize the “huge variety of value demand” that shows up at school every school day, mostly in the form of children. They know not to think to learn to absorb the value demand the children bring with them to school. After all, the children are the students, not them. Their delusive decision to turn APS into a Charter System exemplifies the genesis of the kind of failure demand they generate and then try to manage and control through standardized teaching and learning and performance.

 

But, of course, the school board’s and superintendent’s decision to turn APS into a Charter System demonstrates they do not know they generate failure demand. Otherwise, they would be providing the district the leadership – servant leadership, in fact – to continually learn to develop the capability to absorb value demand rather than always trying to manage and control it, as by standardizing teaching and learning. Continual learning also requires the ability to unlearn, and unlearning is something they simply will not, and perhaps cannot, do. No matter the evidence, they simply will not or cannot unlearn that all charter schools and such generate failure demand to far greater extents than do any public schools on the commons. “Knowledge has temporal spread,” as one may learn from Deming.

 

By always trying to manage and control value demand, Atlanta school board members and superintendent constantly rob themselves of learning to provide for principals, teachers, and even children to get knowledge to improve teaching and learning in ways that absorb value demand. And because standardization is their paradigm, and because they have not the capability to do or even think otherwise because “I have been trained to do this work” (Carstarphen) of turning schools around, they have given Governor Nathan Deal great, well, “opportunity” to legislate state takeover of so-called “failing schools” to be handed over to public school privatization interests to operate.

 

There is a reason Governor Deal calls his New Orleans-style plan “Opportunity School District” (OSD). And it is reasonable to suppose the reason has more to do with Deal providing himself “opportunity” than any children. Governor Deal pretty much proved his OSD plan is a self-serving opportunity when he gave no mind to having been informed there are better ways than state takeover of public schools (see here and here). So let it never be said the Governor had no options.

 

Actually, it may be a bit too kind to say Atlanta school board members and superintendent are always trying to manage and control value demand. More accurately, it is clear, or it should be clear, that Atlanta school board members and superintendent operate as pass-through agents primarily in service to the interests of philanthropic oligarchs, plutocrats, and corporatists (including, but limited to, Eli Broad, Bill Gates, Barack Obama, Arne Duncan, and Pearson). And nothing more recently demonstrates the fighting they do than Superintendent Carstarphen’s response to Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association’s (FDHSAA) wanting to know the real deal behind the superintendent’s decision to dismiss Douglass High School’s principal. See, copied and inserted below, both FDHSAA’s letter to Carstarphen and Carstarphen’s response.

 

Note that Carstarphen’s response to the FDHSAA is, in essence, just this (bold emphasis mine):

 

“I have no idea why people decide to do what they do but this job is for a seasoned ‘turnaround’ principal – no one forced anyone to apply for these SIG [School Improvement Grant] schools. … I can’t discuss the evaluation but I am certain we are making the right decision.”

 

Well, firstly, in their letter, the FDHSAA does not ask Carstarphen to discuss the principal’s evaluation (and neither do I; see here). Then, secondly, the paper “School Improvement Grants: Ransoming Title I Schools in Distress” makes clear Carstarphen is making the wrong decision, yet a decision Broad, Gates, Obama, and Duncan would likely approve, as would public school privatization interests.

 

Also note that Carstarphen begins her response to the FDHSAA by expressing being “saddened” by FDHSAA’s letter and characterizing FDHSAA’s concerns as “meanness.” Yet, it is not at all apparent that Carstarphen entertained in the least the thought that perhaps the FDHSAA bothered to write her because of their(!) sense of sadness brought on by Carstarphen’s cruel and mean treatment of their school’s principal and disregard of community.

 

So, please, let us hear no more disingenuous rhetoric from the Atlanta Board of Education and especially their Superintendent, Meria J. Carstarphen, Ed.D., about “fighting for the children,” when they make it abundantly clear they fight for and with forces out to destroy public education as a common good, with the consequence of dumping onto the public ever more failure demand.

 

Clearly, firing Frederick Douglass High School’s principal is just the latest failure demand created by Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Carstarphen. Otherwise, Carstarphen likely would not have received from the Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association a letter that “saddened” her and she perceived to be “meanness.”

 

By the way, Peter Barnard once offered to travel from the U.K. to visit with our Atlanta Board of Education and Superintendent, all on his own dime. Want to put a wager on your guess of response that came from APS at the Top?

 

Ed Johnson
Advocate for Quality in Public Education
(404) 505-8176 | edwjohnson@aol.com

 

 

Cc: Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association and Members
Cc: Atlanta Board of Education Members and Superintendent
Cc: Atlanta public community organizations and members
Cc: Atlanta City Council Members and Mayor
Cc: Nathan Deal, Governor, State of Georgia (via contact form)

 

 

Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association writes:

 

From: Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association [mailto:fdhs.odf.42@gmail.com]
To: Carstarphen, Meria

 

Subject: Seeking Transparency and Accountability

 

FREDERICK DOUGLASS HIGH SCHOOL ALUMNI ASSOCIATION

 

 

Dr. Meria Carstarphen, Superintendent
Atlanta Public Schools
130 Trinity Avenue, SW
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

 

May 15, 2015

 

Dear Superintendent Carstarphen,

 

Seeking transparency and accountability, we, The Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association, retired administrator, retired faculty, teachers, parents, and stakeholders, met with you and your selected staff on Tuesday, May 13, 2015, at 9:15 a.m. We were shocked and dismayed that you reported to us that Frederick Douglass High School, under the leadership of Dr. Tony L. Burks, II, had made …”no progress”. This is quite different from our own research and observations. We have read the Douglass January 2015 summary report, excellent commendations, and comments from the State, and we are confused as to why Dr. Burks was not allowed to complete the 2015-2016 suggestions in the Transformation Model. We noticed on the web that the recruitment for a new principal is listed as a Turnaround Model instead of the Transformation Model that Dr. Burks was implementing under his administration. The State summary reveals that Douglass is on a trajectory for success. We came as supporters of Dr. Burks and, more importantly, the children who need a stable learning environment.

 

The mentoring piece supposedly done by Dr. Timothy Gadson, III was lacking to say the least. Dr. Gadson stated first he met monthly with Dr. Burks. Additional questions led Dr. Gadson to the modification that he texted and e-mailed the principal daily. Surely, being a qualified professional administrator, Dr. Gadson recognizes that mentoring involves more than a text or an email. The mentoring by him was not a collaborative effort as he suggested. He later stated he came out after the end of the first semester (February). If he had read the State January 2015 commendation documents, he could have provided support and recommended to you that Dr. Burks be allowed to continue the implementation of the Transformation Model instead of immediately placing him on a PDP in March, especially since leadership was one of the commendations listed by the State. We now know that it is within the Superintendent’s power to allow Douglass to continue under the Transformation Model given the upward trajectory indicated in the State summary document.

 

We provided some data to you and your staff of the proud history of our school. We shared our concerns with you. You stated that you would get in touch with the State and provide clarifications in regards to Governor Nathan Deal’s letter of leadership commendation to Dr. Burks and the SIG grant. We were to work on a Plan of Action.

 

As of today, we have not gotten any feedback on the clarifications you volunteered to get. There was no plan of action. In fact, the only thing we did was to establish a follow-up June 3, 2015, meeting at 9:00 a.m., which comes directly after the June Board Meeting. To be transparent and honest, we feel our meeting with you on Tuesday was simply to neutralize us, while you went ahead with your plans.

 

Errors in communication were made when Dr. Gadson scheduled a community meeting on the same date and time as the seniors’ graduation Visions of the Future program. To schedule a community meeting on May 19, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. to tell the Douglass family of the removal of Dr. Burks as principal for 2015-2016 in the midst of their graduation is totally insensitive to the seniors with whom he has worked during this school year. Dr. Gadson had to hurriedly change the community meeting date to May 20, 2015, at 6:00 p. m., which is still in the midst of the students’ celebratory graduation activities with their families. Once again, this provides evidence that Dr. Gadson is unaware of what is going on in this school.

 

We are insulted with your disrespect in not being transparent. You did not make us aware of the community meetings, even though the APS Ombudsman collected our signatures and email addresses on Tuesday. In fact, being honest, you should have told us of your plans (meeting with faculty, letters given out to students, meeting with community), while we were at the Tuesday meeting. Our voice will be heard! We shall proceed with our project and pray that you and your administration will make decisions for the advancement of the children. The children, teachers and parents at Douglass need to hear from you. We encourage you, as the head of this administration, to be available to hear and respond to the concerns of the students, teachers, parents and community.

 

We have many alumni who live in cities across this nation and abroad. Because of this, we are requesting live streaming of this meeting on May 20, 2015, at 6:00 p. m. If this is impossible, please allow us to have a professional, independent person to videotape the meeting. Please let us know of your decision, so we will know how to plan accordingly.

 

Sincerely,

 

Frederick Douglass Alumni Association

 

Hardy Blash, President
Judy Davis Carroll, Presenting Board Member

Email: fdhs.odf.42@gmail.com

 

 

From: “Carstarphen, Meria”
Date: May 15, 2015 at 7:50:45 PM EDT
To: ‘Frederick Douglass High School Alumni Association’
Cc:

 

Subject: RE: Seeking Transparency and Accountability

 

Dear Mr. Blash,

 

I am so saddened by this letter. It is just mean. I did not create this Douglass situation and did not act in any way that was not transparent or disrespectful in our meeting. At the request of the alumni association I met with you as soon as I get it into my schedule without delay. How could I plan to “neutralize” people when I didn’t even know you and wasn’t the person who asked for the meeting. Given the tone of this letter, I suspect that if I had not had the meeting you would be criticizing me for not meeting with you. Goodness, no good deed…

 

As for the next date to meet, I wasn’t even in the room when you came up with it. My schedule is completely crazy this time of year. I thought we agreed we were going to work on understanding the history more and what you all could teach me so that we could rebuild it again. In that meeting I was clear: the current principal is not coming back next year but I did want to work with you all to plan for the future. I cannot wait on the interview process to ensure we have quality, viable candidates to consider. This is the time of year principals are looking and we don’t want to have to wait until the end of the summer like last year to rush and find candidates.

 

I have no idea why people decide to do what they do but this job is for a seasoned “turnaround” principal – no one forced anyone to apply for these SIG schools. It’s clear you have to be a turnaround principal and that’s why the State sits in the room. And, yes, while we mentor and support, all principals must still do their jobs and more so in these type roles. Blaming other people is not going to change our decision. I can’t discuss the evaluation but I am certain we are making the right decision.

 

I have no idea why you are saying I didn’t give you feedback on the state call. I told you in the meeting – you all were waiting for me to get off the phone so I could share. I then shared the feedback as soon as I walked back in the room. And, further, yes, I did find out about the letter from Governor Deal – it’s a form type letter that is written by the Office of Constituent Services for people who apparently ask for one. This one was requested by someone in Butler, GA…no idea the connection. Anyway, that’s what I learned.

 

The community was noticed by letter about the change in leadership. The meeting is about the first step in the principal selection process. The communication in the date was not messed up by our central office staff. The draft was shared with principal and he probably accidentally sent out the draft because the draft did not have a signature on it. It was corrected immediately.

 

As we originally agreed, yes, I would love to have your guidance on how we can help the school. It would be my hope that it could be done in a way that inspires us all.

 

I love this district, this city and these children. I will do whatever I have to do to ensure they get the quality education they deserve. I will never apologize for that.

 

Finally, I do appreciate your email and do still look forward to working with you.

 

Regards,

 

Meria

Phil Lanoue, the superintendent of schools in Athens, Georgia, offered his teachers a reward: those with perfect attendance would get a day off. Some teachers resisted the offer because they didn’t want to miss their classes.

 

He and other administrators became substitute teachers for those who accepted the day off. He taught a class in life science.

 

He wrote:

 

 

While the original idea was to reward teachers, I know it ended up making far more of an impact on those of us who walked in their shoes for a day.

 

 

At the end of the day, he had new respect for his teachers:

 

 

I made it through the day, exhausted, and having developed an even deeper understanding and appreciation for our teachers. I tried to make my teaching interesting, interactive and relevant, but I could see that there was something that only the regular classroom teacher could offer: the foundation of strong relationships.

 
Teachers connect with students in many ways and are so familiar with their strengths and areas of growth. They know the struggles they are facing, what gets them excited and how to say just what a student needs to hear — and when they need to hear it. They know when to push and when to hold back. Knowing that our students walk into our classrooms and are met by such caring individuals is everything — our teachers go the distance to ensure that students receive what they need — academically, social/emotionally and more.

 
I left Hilsman Middle School that day with a lot more than tired, achy feet from being in a teacher’s shoes. I left seeing firsthand that our students can truly receive no better education than in the Clarke County School District because of the tireless work of our teachers. The design of the lessons, the relationships that are built, the digital learning, the International Baccalaureate framework, the opportunities available through our partnerships — I am truly humbled. I am humbled to work with an incredible community of individuals who are committed to the wellbeing of our students.

 
I encourage all interested community members to consider volunteering at one of our schools next year so that they, too, can be a part of this incredible Clarke County School District community. Spend time in our classrooms, and gain a renewed sense of why Athens-Clarke County has every reason to be “Proud To Be CCSD.”

 

 

A comment posted on the blog:

 

“Thank-you. I’ve been teaching for 26 years. I currently teach kindergarten. You should see the SLO (Student Learning Objective) test that I have to give my kindergarteners next week. The state of Georgia, in its infinite wisdom, came up with the term Student Learning Objective, realizing too late that it spells SLO. How appropriate.

 

“Anyway, next week’s test is hilarious when you read it, knowing what I know about five year olds & seeing it from their point of view. It is also ridiculous and sad. I so wish Bill Gates would come and administer that test for me next week so he could get a taste of what he & others are causing our students to go through. Testing isn’t educating, but it’s all we seem to do anymore. Even in primary school.

 

“To make matters worse, our new “teacher evaluation instrument” is convoluted and makes little sense. We are observed 6 times a year and downgraded if our lesson plans aren’t done just so, no matter that they are MY lesson plans. Here’s the real kicker: we must have our “I can” statements clearly posted, taking up valuable wall space, and we must refer to them and chant “I can….. ” do whatever ridiculous, age inappropriate objective set aside for us to “teach them.” I said the “I can” statements with my students a couple of times, realized how utterly useless they are, and haven’t done it since. It’s bad enough that I have to have them posted. My principal has told me that I live in a world of “butterflies, birds, and rainbows” and that I “do my own thing.” I’m glad she’s finally figured that out.”

This is a lovely story about the graduation ceremonies at Clarke Central High School in Athens, Georgia.

The story describes the school as probably the most diverse school in north Georgia. Look at the photo. This is American public education. This is what it should be. No one was excluded because of their disability or their lack of English skills. This is a community public schools, built by the community, for the community, of the community.

If the governor and the legislature have their way, charters will open, and students will be lured away, most to racially separate schools.

Can we afford to lose Clarke Central High School? I don’t think so.

Peter Smagorinsky of the University of Georgia has been writing a series of articles about Great Georgia Teachers. They are posted in Maureen Downey’s blog in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. This article celebrates Cameron Brooks, a third grade teacher at the Chase Street Elementary School in Athen, Georgia.

It is hard to believe that a teacher like Mr. Brooks still exists in this era of data-driven, test-based, lockstep compliance.

He has been teaching for eight years. His classroom is devoted to activities that are inspiring and joyful. Professor Smagorinsky asked a parent to describe what he does:

Another Chase Street parent wrote when I asked her about Cameron:

*He plays on the playground with his third grade students every day. One day recently, he was sighted swinging with a couple of girls and simultaneously playing ball with another group of students! He PLAYS with them and I have seen no other teacher do that.
*I know that in the mornings after the announcements, Cameron and his students do Qigong.
*His classroom is calm, safe, and obviously a community of caring individuals.
*He dedicates a lot of time and thought to his preparation — long after the expected school hours.
*He makes the day fun, productive and meaningful for all of his students.
Cameron’s colleague Krista Dean reinforces this perspective, saying, “One of the many awesome things about Mr. Brooks is that he plays with his students every day at recess. He teaches them skills and new games, enjoys their games, and models cooperative play. He can often be found on the soccer field with students after school on Fridays. He serves as a positive role model all throughout the day — practicing character qualities that we want in our students….

Cameron stresses the value of kindness to his students, a concept that seems out of place in schools that focus on competition between teachers and students for the highest individual scores. He models for his students his belief in committing “acts of kindness, exploration, inquiry, engagement,” each difficult to strive toward when learning is competitive….

As he tells his kids, “Kindness comes in all shapes and sizes. Helping a turtle across a busy street, sharing a simple ‘Hello,’ or giving directions to a new student makes life a little better.” He then builds this value into his instruction: “I challenge the class to 100 acts of kindness. When you do something kind, compose a personal narrative, then place it in the Box of Kindness. Once revised and edited, post it here for the world to see.” Kindness then is not simply a virtue, but a means through which his students generate materials for narrative writing.

Cameron’s teaching emphasizes education’s affective dimension. He has written, “The start of the school year is the ideal time to proactively bring attention to, and nurture qualities that promote a classroom culture of respect, openness, introspection, and empathy.” These human values are often lost in the current policy world in which 8-year-olds are measured according to their test score productivity and told they must compete with others and win at all costs.

There are still teachers like Cameron Brooks. They teach what matters most. They will always be remembered by the students lucky enough to have been in their classroom.

Kudos to Peter Smagorinsky for paying attention to the Great Teachers of Georgia. Great teachers can be found in every state and in every community. They don’t shine because of bonuses and merit pay. They shine because they love children and they love to teach. They make a difference.

Jim Arnold, former superintendent of schools in Pelham, Georgia, explains why he encouraged his grandsons and their parents to opt out.

He writes:

“Just imagine the millions of dollars spent on standardized test development, scoring, actual testing, test training and test security that could be spent to hire new teachers, lower class sizes, restore art and music and elective classes, buy new school technology, books, materials, end furlough days or – gasp – give teachers a raise.

“Imagine an end to the silly insistence that standardized testing is the only way to hold teachers and schools accountable.

“Imagine the return of the authority of the classroom teacher to actually teach their students rather than follow a scripted test-centric routine designed not to improve teaching and learning but to improve test scores.

“Just imagine schools focused on taking students where they are educationally and socially and concentrating on teaching and learning rather than on how they test.

“Just imagine students being judged by the classroom work they do rather than by a score on a standardized test.

“Just imagine your kid’s school being judged by the parents, teachers and community members on their effectiveness rather than some made-up metric based on the junk science of standardized testing.

“Just imagine teachers being judged by their administrators and mentored by other teachers to help them learn how to be more effective in what they do rather than being evaluated by student test scores — often of students they don’t even teach by a method condemned by the American Statistical Association?

“Just imagine. That’s why we’re opting our boys out.”

I saw a tweet with a petition to the judge in the Atlanta cheating case. After reading it, I signed it.

The punishment should fit the crime. No bankers or mortgage lenders were sent to jail for the crimes that nearly destroyed our economy and caused many people to lose their homes and savings.

The Atlanta educators cheated. They lost their professional licenses, five years of compensation, their pensions, and their reputation. Some are facing 20 years in prison. This is wrong.

If you agree, sign the petition. If you don’t,don’t sign it. Think about it.

Susan Barber, chair of the English department at Northgate High School in Coweta County, Georgia, wrote a letterd to State Superintendent Richard Woods.

 

Her message: “Please protect my instructional time. I want to teach my students…..”

 

“I love students, and I love teaching. I want to be a teacher who is “part of the solution and not part of the problem,” which is harder and harder to do in education today. While I have little control over decisions on a large-scale, my mind is continually thinking on and dreaming of ways to make my classroom, and our system, better.

 

“I believe the greatest and most under tapped resource in Georgia’s education system today is Georgia teachers, but the good teachers are starting to leave….

 

“If I am going to be measured on how well my students read and write, I need more time to teach them to read and write. Some days I feel I spend more time getting my plans properly formatted, administering standardized tests, and going to professional development meetings on the state evaluation system or Georgia Milestone than I do teaching. These things are needed and necessary, but when they interfere with my ability and time to teach, there is a serious problem.

 

“Please protect my instructional time. I want to teach my students.

 

“My students need me to teach them. Please protect our administrators’ time by allowing them to be about the business of curriculum planning, strategic and long-term goal setting, and spending quality time with teachers and students.

 

“In addition to instructional time being used for testing, the amount of money devoted to testing is mind-boggling. Almost $108 million has been designated for the Georgia Milestone assessment. As department chair at my high school, every year I have to tell my team that we will once again not get new textbooks. We have been through three adoption cycles now without new books. I beg that state money will be funneled to where it is most needed – students.

 

“Students do not directly benefit from testing, yet that is where the money goes. I understand this is a complex issue with federal and state requirements to be fulfilled, but our students are suffering while political gains are being made. We must put a stop to this.

 

“Testing does offer some advantages. I am not a proponent of throwing out tests all together. Schools should be held accountable on student learning as well as teacher instruction, but we have swung so far to one side that there is no longer balance in the system.

 

“Testing does not measure a student’s growth in his or her love for learning or the development of grit. Testing does not measure a student’s thought process or style of writing. Testing does not measure the ability to apply knowledge or creative problem solving. I would like to think that these are some of the most important skills students learn in school today, yet they count for nothing in regard to my evaluation or my school’s performance.

 

“The system today is defined by terms such as CCSS, TKES, LKES, CCRPI, GHSGT, GAPS, SACS, CRCT, GMAS, SGAs, SLOs, yet all I want to do is teach SCHOOL. Give me and my colleagues the freedom to do what we are trained to do and what we love doing.”

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