Jeff Meadors: Time to restore support, integrity, dollars to classroom teachers

Jeff Meadors

Jeff Meadors

Will the real school issues in the Georgia General Assembly please rise?

School funding, safety, charters, triggers or student scholarship organizations (SSOs) may make the cut following a heated 2012 legislative session dominated by the charter amendment.

I'd like to see us start from scratch and restore dollars and professionalism to the real magicians of teaching and learning: classroom teachers.

No system, no organization ever improved its bottom line, in this case student achievement, by turning the boots on the ground into second-rate employees.

It is common core discourse to hold classroom teachers highly accountable, yet when leadership misses the mark, or misses many, transparency is often delayed, allegations denied, and blame deflected.

Teachers should not spend every teachable moment jockeying to strike the right pose or spout the latest buzz word for some appointee of the oversight gang.

That's not how teaching works and it's not improving achievement.

Teaching is spontaneous, filled with sloppy light-bulb moments, sleeves-up dialogue and miscues turned mastery. It doesn't follow neatly packaged curriculum maps infused with polysyllabic jargon that grow magically into higher student achievement. It was never meant to do so.

We must restore support, integrity and dollars to classroom teachers. Even in austerity there are non-teaching jobs we can live without to route dollars to teachers.

Furloughs have to go. They're a temporary fix for failing to zero-base budgets; systems should protect instructional time and apply furloughs to summer positions only.

Today's teachers are fed up with micromanagement disguised as instructional support and they, like students, seek options.

One option for students is the SSO. Listen for this in the 2013 General Assembly.

According to the Georgia Department of Education (DOE) website, The Georgia Private School Tax Credit law allows eligible private citizens and corporations to receive tax credits for donations to a Georgia SSO. SSOs will provide student scholarships to parents that will help cover the cost of a private school education for their children in the state of Georgia up to $9,046.00.

The following are among the active SSOs in Georgia. All have websites and are listed at the DOE website: Georgia School Choice Scholarship Fund, Chatham Student Scholarship Organization Inc., Coastal Georgia Christian Scholarship Fund Inc., Georgia Christian Schools Scholarship Fund, Georgia-Cumberland Conference Student Scholarship Organization, Georgia GOAL Scholarship Program Inc., Georgia Learning Foundation Inc., Georgia Student Scholarship Organization Inc., and Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship Program Inc. PACE Scholarship Organization Corp., at www.pacescholarship.com, is located in Covington, GA 30014.

With passage of Senate Bill 410 in 2012 requiring all schools to have an annual report card based on student achievement, parents can amass power through SSOs and the Parent Trigger Act to rectify the ills of public education if leadership fails to do so.

We can turn Georgia schools around, but we have to get real comfortable real fast with the ugly side of schools on our way to higher ground. None of us improved our teenage acne by pretending it wasn't there.

Jeff Meadors is the District 1 representative on the Newton County Board of Education. Readers may email him at pjeffreymeadors@gmail.com.


ACroz22 2 years, 10 months ago

If you wanna do that, get rid of the moron interim principal at Alcovy. This joker has put up lists of the 9 teaching strategies next to the door of every teacher. Teachers get GOLD STARS if they do those strategies while being observed.

WHAT A JOKE. If you want teachers to be RESPECTED, and if you want GOOD TEACHERS here in this crappy school system, maybe you should actually treat them like mature professionals instead of treating them like kindergartners. GOLD STARS. Give me a break.


dennistay53 2 years, 10 months ago

Well said. Sometimes the truth hurts.


Crazyhooker99 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes he gets it. He is the only one that does apparently.


FlowerPower 2 years, 10 months ago

Jeff, I really appreciate this. You have gotten to the very heart of the problem in the Newton County School System today. Teachers are as dedicated as ever, but have been beaten down by dogma, micromanagement and buzzwords. I have not been able to dance around like a puppet and be an effective teacher...


ProudToTeach 2 years, 10 months ago

Jeff, I really appreciate the arguments you make for the support of teachers. However, please explain to us what "buzz words" are you referencing. I know that many school systems like Newton have implemented the national movement of standard based classes and the use of research based instructional strategies. Are you opposed to standard based classrooms and research based instruction? Since, you are a school board member, I am sure your readers would like to know where you stand on theses issues.

You reference SSOs in your article as a way to create reform and options for schools. To some, SSOs are a new way to segregate schools and destroy public education which is the backbone of a strong democracy. What is your perspective on this? As an elected school board member, do you have a hidden agenda? Are you truly transparent.

Please tell us where you stand.


Shart15 2 years, 10 months ago

Looks like to me the SSOs are all over the AJC and legislators have brought them up and I checked the DOE site and yes they are there so I think it sounds to me like he is sharing what is already out there I don't see an agenda just the facts. If your point holds true then the legislators and the DOE site are promoting what you refer to and a columnist is just discussing?


ProudToTeach 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes Shart. You are right. I am curious. What legislators are behind SSOs? Who is running the DOE? Do they really believe SSOs will improve education for all or just a few? If the scenario plays out with hundreds of private schools, will public schools fade away as tax revenue is lost? Will conditions worsen for public school teachers or will private schools provide better pay and prestige for teachers? Jeff. As a board member, help us understand these complicated issues. What will be the impact on our children, parents, teachers and communities. What is your vision for public schools?


InvolvedP 2 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Meadors, my wife and I voted for you and we appreciate your articles. As we have read about SSOs, we are unable to determine the amount of money we would receive for scholarships for our two children. Private school is expenisve. Both my wife and I work for local businesses but we are not rich. Please write an article explaining what amount we can expect and how you see this improving our childrens' educational opportunities. Although, we have been happy with our schools, you make us feel like private schools would be better. Thank you for representing us.


Satan69 2 years, 10 months ago

Yes what exactly is your vision for the school system?


kt 2 years, 10 months ago

Private schools are better, and parents should have an option of sending their kids to a GOOD school with the money they EARN. Because people don't want to be sending their kids to school with thugs and bullies who get passed through grades to meet a racial/financial/gender oriented status quo, even if they are lacking the basic competences to do so.

Attacking parents who want better for their kids then what the NCSS Is handing out isn't the way to go. Getting involved in your child's school, disciplining them at home, and making sure that they know, without a doubt, education is the #1 priority in YOUR home, will start changing the public schools immediately.


JLBalliew 2 years, 10 months ago

I'm sorry but I have worked at Newton High and the toughest and most important issue has nothing to do with money. It is parenting, parenting, and parenting. We need to teach our kids basic common sense morality and things will change. You can't teach a child that has no respect for authority period. Parents are the reason for school decline not teachers.


John 2 years, 10 months ago

JLBalliew, I certainly don't disagree with your comments about parenting. But the school system (from the Super to the class room teacher) must be ready to support the parents. Right now in NCSS students know that the can get written up all day long & school admininsration does nothing about it, maybe they send them to ISS and the teachers DO NOT send class room assignments to those sent to ISS so the students sleep all day & that is what they want . Where is the MEANINGFUL discipline that is supported by all involved in the students growing up? In my day, if you were a male and you messed up in class, it was step out in the hall, bend over & grab your ankles or write I will not talk in class a thousand times (even in study hall period), got into a fight - both were sent to the gym and you went three 3 minute rounds with 16 oz boxing gloves and head gear. If you didn't mix it up and just danced, you got to go 3 more, 3 minute rounds - your arms didn't want to do that. After that you both shook hands. And in gym classess the guys got sweaty and the girls "glistened", classes were not co-ed & did not consist of playing ping pong (if you felt like it) or kick bal, we ran, climped ropes, did x amount of push-ups, jumping jacks, sit-ups, chin-ups, ran timed track events, including hurdles and took a shower to get the stink off before going to the next class. Now, I am not advocating corporal punishment type discipline but this turn the cheek stuff "ain't" working either. The students hand books used to have rules of student classroom conduct clearly stated (at least up to 2005) but they have disappeared, I was told by principals at several schools, primarily middle & high schools it is up to each class room teacher to set the rules (hmmm possible different rules for every teacher) and have them clearly posted in the class rooms for students to easily and readily read. Someone go do a survey and see how many teacher have any rules posted. I used to sub in the NCSS and found very few posted maybe 1 out of 10 classrooms had them published - not a good thing here. I understand that not all rules can be be applied equally to all class rooms (like band or wood shop) but there are core rules that do apply to all. The old adage "With the lack of a standard any level of performance is acceptable." probably applies here for the parents, teachers and adminstration.


OnToday 2 years, 10 months ago

Why are private schools better? Because the parents show a commitment (financial) to an education. You can take the same teacher and put them in a public school one year and a private school the next. You would see very little change in the teacher. Why? Because the professional is going to do the job to the best of their ability. The difference is in what type of person the professional working with. Until (some) parents stop taking advantage of the free educational opportunity their child is receiving and instill in them a sense of personal responsibility, nothing will change.


John 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree a true professional will always be a professional no matter what career path they have chosen for a livelyhood. But here are are people in profession whether they be a floor sweeper or CEO that do a minimum to get by but have great expecattios on the financial side. I recently reviewed the pay scale chart for NCSS teacher's and it looks like a teacher can make a nice living for 184 days of work provided they accumulate years of tenure and continue their pursuit of advanced degrees in their Core teaching field. Certainly, a recent graduate fresh out is going to start out a the lower end of the scale depending on the type of teaching degree they earned and Core teaching curriculm, i.e. math & science vs PE major - but as time goes on it grows and can accelerate as Masters and Docorate degrees are pursued & earned. Same as in the private sector or the military one earns their stripes based on skill developments, contributions and performance evaluations, etc


Billy 2 years, 10 months ago

A quality person in a cesspool world. Thanks, Jeff, for all your efforts. I wouldn't send my child to a public school if my life depended on it, but for those that do, they need people like you, especially in the agnostic, non sense classrooms that make up most, if not all, of our present day school systems...


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