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MEADORS: Don't spin the numbers -- just tell the truth

"Every child in America," argues Jeb Bush, "has an equal opportunity but tell that to a parent stuck in a school where there is no leadership. A quality of opportunity does not exist in all schools. That failure is hurting all of America."

Bush, Condi Rice and I have something in common. We were all excoriated last month for telling the truth about public schools.

Rice talks of ZIP code gridlock for kids trapped in failing neighborhood schools, and the best the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) can do is slam my email inbox with sky-is-falling screeches that bullies are intimidating opponents of HR 1162. Cry me a river.

Where are the solutions for real change, better options for students and tighter controls on administrators run amuck amidst the howling cries of the GSBA robo calls, which strike more in common with self-indulgent Hollyweirdos than real leaders?

Guess who pays for board members to participate in GSBA? You do. Funded with your tax dollars, this group wants me to influence your vote, not to mention the sycophants of Race to the Top (RT3) who ignore the inconvenient truth of RT3's mandate for charters.

Recently dubbed a voucher supporter and part of the evil Republican machine, I've never been vocal on vouchers at all but could not be more proud of the latter attack minus the "evil" part. My electorate knew what the "R" meant after my name when more than 60 percent of them ordered me to go to work for them.

Update for electorate: The numbers aren't much better. I won't lie to you about them. Send me an angel.

My doctor gets plenty of numbers when I see him for my annual checkup. Cancer survivors like my mom pay close attention to numbers. Last week's football game had numbers too: Eagles -- 32; Rams -- 0.

So why do educators spin numbers into public relations love fests when SAT scores decline annually? The only local system with real SAT bragging rights is Morgan County. Have we asked what we could learn from them?

And how can otherwise reasonable people who vehemently and passionately exclaim that all kids can learn hide behind demographics when I point out lagging data as if really telling me, "Oh, I didn't mean those kids, just these over here ..."

Of 34 advanced nations, the U.S. ranks 17th in science, 25th in math and last in advanced physics.

It's not austerity. Between 1960 and 1995, U.S. public school spending per student adjusted for inflation increased by 212 percent.

Yet U.S. Department of Education data indicate no real improvement in reading scores while per-student expenditures more than doubled from $4,060 in 1970 to $9,266 in 2005 ($20,436.03 adjusted for inflation since 1970).

And no, teachers are not the problem. We have more high-quality teachers now than ever before. Big money goes into professional learning.

Where are the Chicken Little robo calls telling me what we're going to do to support classroom teachers to dig us out of the achievement debacle in Georgia? I'm waiting.

Jeff Meadors may be reached at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com