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    Organization: Georgia Association of Educators     Date: 11/19/2017

 

  GAE president pushes for fully-funded schools  
 

(Wednesday,10/25/2017 ©  Valdosta Daily Times)

VALDOSTA— The Georgia Association of Educators president wants to fully fund schools, protection from school district waivers and recruiting and retaining teachers during his 2017 tour.    The GAE's goals include improving the suffering from austerity cuts, which will be done by calling for the full funding of public schools in next year's legislative session for the 2017-18 school year, said Dr. Sid Chapman, GAE president.  "Austerity cuts are big on the list for us," he said.  Chapman stated numerous rural districts are significantly impacted by funding, which is why an update is needed by the legislature. Chapman shared why he feels fully funded schools are needed.  "Here in America, if you're in the wrong zip code, you're not going to have as well of a funded school," he said.  Chapman said the impact of high poverty in schools should be addressed, as the GAE found a direct link between poverty and low student performance.  "Our belief at GAE is that every child is entitled to an excellent education regardless of zip code," Chapman said. Another item high on the GAE's list is handling harmful school district waivers. He said the waivers are used to undermine the positive intents of the law, which is harmful to students. Chapman cited examples of the harm caused by waivers, such as having too many students, up to 45, in a classroom. He spoke of this issue in depth in a GAE press release.  “While school districts across Georgia have their ‘Teachers Wanted’ notices out, many of their actions tell potential prospects ‘we’ll address your concerns later,’” Chapman said in the release. “In the meantime, waivers tell prospects they will work with few to no bathroom breaks, work even though a child threatens to harm you, work with fewer resources than actually needed, have no time to plan for your classes, work with unmanageable class sizes, work with stacks of unrelated classroom paperwork, work on non-teaching-related assignments, teach classes outside your area of expertise, and fit in a full year’s classwork in fewer school days. Oh, and do this while making sure all of your children, no matter what their abilities and life situations, pass all of their tests and make A’s.” This lends itself to the teacher recruitment and retainment issue the GAE also seeks to improve. A problem that has affected the Valdosta community.  Chapman shared the first step to resolving the issues.  "First, you've got to treat teachers as professionals," he said.  He said the average teaching span for a teacher is five years. The GAE president said a way to improve the number is by respecting teachers, allowing them to be creative and stopping the overuse of testing. For more information or to read the full press release cited in this article, visit  gae.org/issues-and-action/gae-news-center/ . Kimberly Cannon is a Reporter with The Valdosta Daily Times. Her extension is 1376.