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Organization: Georgia Association of Educators Date: 12/16/2017
|School waivers, Common Core a focus for GAE president|
Rome News Tribune)
Kristina Wilder Nov 21, 2014 (1)
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One of the top priorities for the new Georgia Association of Educators president, Sid Chapman, is keeping an eye on the upcoming legislative session to see what’s in store for education this year.
“The governor said he learned a few things,” said Chapman. “We will see what happens.”
One cause for concern, Chapman said, is the availability of waivers for school systems.
“The GAE doesn’t want to see too many waivers given for the 180-day school year, because we believe the children need that full year,” he said.
For the past six months, GAE has been bringing the issue of restoring full funding for a 180-day school year to schools and communities across Georgia. Chapman believes the recent trend in cutting the number of fully funded classrooms is debilitating to students’ education.
“It is time to stop the clock from going backwards on our children and give them the best chance for success we can provide,” Chapman said.
Waivers for class size are troubling as well, he said.
“Classrooms are already overcrowded,” Chapman said. “Many districts already have classrooms with 35 to 40 students for one teacher.”
Also a cause for concern are waivers for the state salary schedule and for fair-dismissal protection.
The salary schedule provides a basis for how much a teacher is paid, depending on years of employment and level of certification. Fair dismissal offers teachers a chance to defend themselves against allegations of poor performance and misconduct before a fair, impartial hearing examiner.
“I can’t understand why a district wouldn’t want to give certified professionals reasons and explanations for dismissal,” said Chapman. “Also, I feel teachers should be paid fairly for their certification and experience.”
Chapman said he feels that if Georgia continues to allow these things to be chipped away, it will become difficult for Georgia to find qualified teachers.
“If you don’t have good benefits, a strong salary schedule and no incentives for improvement or longevity, who are we going to recruit?” he asked. “Who will stay with us?
Chapman said he hopes to see some changes, because teachers do have reasonable worries right now.
“So many teachers already deal with lack of support, behavioral problems, an incredible amount of paperwork and lack of flexibility to be creative,” he said. “The main thing we want for our teachers is that they are allowed to teach.”
Chapman is also hoping that people will begin to try to understand the Common Core.
“There are so many outright lies out there now,” he said. “The Common Core sets standards, not curriculum. Also, our students need stability. If we keep changing, we won’t achieve that.”
Chapman said that while there are pros and cons to the Common Core, it does offer a way to accurately compare Georgia students to students across the nation.
“It concerns me that so many people are blaming Common Core on President Obama,” he said. “Common Core was developed by a group of the nation’s governors and education commissioners,” Chapman said.
“State leaders, teachers, parents, school administrators and experts from across the country collaborated. The federal government was not involved in the development of the standards,” he added.
The Georgia Association of Educators is a nonprofit professional organization for teachers, administrators, and associated educational personnel within Georgia’s public schools. GAE is an affiliate of the National Education Association.