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 email@example.com.