The attack on public education and teachers is relentless and continues.
The source of these attacks come from the pro-charter corporate, big money anti-union movement that has swept the nation funded by hedge fund billionaires like the Koch Brothers, Bill Gates, the Waltons and more. Unfortunately both Democrats and Republicans have really drank the Kool-Aid on that one through Hollywood propaganda, Teach for America, and corporate lobby interests. It has especially been seen through Michelle Rhee (who is the former boss of the APS new Superintendent) and the movement to privatize public education by Board-TFA takeover. No political party has clean hands when it has come to buying into this propaganda. Sadly, slowly but surely teachers, parents, and communities are learning they have fallen prey to a giant bait and switch. Succumbed by promises of “local school governance” and “greater flexibility” they don’t realize what they’ve given up—necessary accountability and transparency which protects our students, teachers, and public schools—until it is too late.
The latest is the push is for districts to choose to become a charter system by June 2015. Charter advocates believe this is a good thing because it allows more flexibility. The problem is that it throws accountability out the window. Laws that regulate classroom size or teacher qualifications are good things not bad. Whether it is big banks that need regulation to protect consumers from subprime mortgage lending, or laws that protect kids from having oversized classrooms and unqualified teachers, rules are set in place to protect our schools and provide accountability.
We cannot rely on benevolent Superintendents or school district administrators “to do the right thing.” Superintendent McDaniel in Floyd County Charter System decided to RIF 120 educators in violation of the charter agreement by excluding local school governance. Teachers were left without recourse, except for that courageous educator Gilda Day who appealed this decision through her constitutional right to due process. Now, Floyd County School System is arguing that charter systems don’t need to comply with fair dismissal and is seeking to overturn law which says charter systems need to comply with the Fair Dismissal Act by providing educators the right to due process. The State Board of Education disagrees and ruled in a recent case decision that due process under the Fair Dismissal Act is a civil right for teachers which cannot be waived by charters. The problem is however that it is now up on appeal, Floyd County School Board pushing for a ruling that would negatively affect every teacher throughout the state of Georgia.
This is a scary thing for Georgia teachers everywhere if the Court of Appeals does not affirm this very correct ruling by the State Agency (the Dept. of Education) that has been charged by the Legislature with interpreting the law. Floyd County School System and certain out of state lobby groups funding charter system proponents seek to overturn over a century of good Georgia law—the constitutional right to fair dismissal for teachers which has been the foundation of Georgia law for over 100 years.
In 1916, the State Supt of Schools M.L. Brittain in his book “Georgia School Laws” stated: “Without fixed charges, it is not according to the letter or spirit of Georgia law for a teacher to be summarily discharged at the whim of a Board without trial after being elected for a specific term unless such provision is stated in the contract.”
We must not allow the government or out of state interests to deprive our teachers of the right to due process that has been well established for over a century and is rooted in both the Georgia and US Constitution.
Teachers, parents, and communities must demand accountability and transparency in order to preserve public education from becoming slowly destroyed.