Page One Magazine Jan Feb 2017

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January/February 2017

MOVE ON WHEN READY The Get-Ahead Program for Georgia High School Students Not for children under 14

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Contents January/February 2017

Vol. 38 No. 3



08  Move On When Ready The get-ahead program for Georgia high school students proves popular, but managing the increasingly individualized education plans for students can prove cumbersome for counselors and teachers.



4  From the President Proudly (and Loudly) Claim Your Rightful Place as an Education Expert

Legislative 14  Student Success in the Balance: Georgia Schools Likely Worse Off With the Proposed Funding Formula

5  From the Executive Director In 2016 We Defeated OSD 19  PAGE 2017 Legislative and Curtailed Testing, But Agenda We Must Remain Vigilant 20  Nearly Half of Georgia Educators Say They Will Leave Profession Within 10 Years 22  Educators Speak Out on Compensation

Professional Learning 24  Burke County Teacher Leaders and Administrators Tackle School Climate Challenges en Route to Designing Engaging Work

Legal 28  PAGE Attorneys Throughout Georgia Stay Abreast of Education Law 30  Political Speech by Public Employees

26  Leadership Academy Participants Successfully Field Test Their Knowledge 31  Academic Decathlon Workshop Gives Students Competitive Edge


26 PAGE One Official Publication of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators Providing professional learning for educators to enhance professional competence, confidence and leadership skills, leading to higher academic achievement for students, while providing the best in membership, legal services and legislative support. January/February 2017



Editor Craig Harper

President Larry Lebovitz

Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta

Associate Editor Meg Thornton

Publisher John Hanna

Production Coordinator Megan Willis

Contributing Editor Lynn Varner

Editor Lindsay Penticuff

Advertising/Sales Sherry Gasaway 770-650-1102, ext.145

Associate Editor Megan Thornton


From the President

Proudly (and Loudly) Claim Your Rightful Place as an Education Expert Amy Denty


lmost 18 years ago, what seems like a lifetime ago now, my life as a teacher changed dramatically when I was named the 2000 Georgia Teacher of the Year. In an instant, I was yanked from a place that I loved, a place of safety and comfort for me — my classroom — into a new and strange world of education policy and legislation. While I had always considered myself an advocate for my students, I quickly learned how important it is for teacher leaders to also advocate for our profession. Within a span of just a few months, I found myself seated on Gov. Roy Barnes’ Education Reform Commission. Instead of being surrounded primarily by practicing educators, I found the table to be much larger: It included business executives, legislators, policy scholars, local school board members, school administrators and a few classroom

teachers. Initially, I felt out of my league, but then I had an epiphany: I and the other classroom teachers who were part of this large commission were closest to the students and the classroom. We were the experts who should have a voice in the policies that affect our students and our profession. It was a humbling experience, albeit one that left me feeling empowered to be the voice that would give others a glimpse into the realities — the joys and challenges — of the classroom teacher. The 154th Georgia General Assembly is currently underway, and there are many education issues being debated and legislated. This provides opportunities for Georgia educators to advocate for our students and our profession. As advocates, our responsibilities include being individuals of influence who share information with colleagues on how state policies can impact classroom practices. Fortunately, PAGE serves as a I and the other classroom reliable conduit of legislative information, especially during the legisteachers who were part of lative session. Take advantage of the this large commission were PAGE Legislative News and Reports closest to the students and from the Capitol. Check out the legthe classroom. We were the islative tab at for links to these and other tools. Also, plan experts who should have to join us for PAGE/GAEL/GACTE Day on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Feb. a voice in the policies that where you will have an opportuaffect our students and our 21, nity to hear the latest on education profession. legislation and meet with your


legislative representatives. Reach out to legislators and other policy makers and let your voice be heard. Being a proactive teacher advocate means having a voice in the policies that affect your students and your profession. Here are a few simple tips to get you started on the journey to advocacy. •  Understand the policies/legislation you are speaking out about. Do some research and ask questions. •  Share information with your colleagues and the public. Utilize social media and letters to the editor of your local newspaper. •  Don’t wait to be asked — reach out to legislators and policy makers. •  Be proactive — suggest solutions to problems. •  Know what is important to the policy maker. If you are contacting state legislators, research to find out what committees and projects are most important to them. A favorite quote of mine is by American anthropologist Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I like to paraphrase her words to fit the teaching profession: We must never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed teachers can change the world for our students. Indeed, we are ones who can get the job done! n

January/February 2017

From the Executive Director

In 2016 We Defeated OSD and Curtailed Testing, But We Must Remain Vigilant Dr. Allene Magill


hank you to the thousands of educators who work so hard in classrooms, schools and district offices across our state and who continue to understand their critical role in speaking up for our profession. This past year has proven how critical the voices of educators and education advocates are in ensuring that the focus of public education remains on students and instruction. The General Assembly plays a large role in how we do our jobs and whether we have the resources to do what we know students need; therefore, we must never cease our vigilance. What a busy year 2016 was in the education sphere! PAGE members played a significant role in the following areas: •  Defeat of Amendment 1 by a 60:40 percent margin, in spite of highly favorable and misleading ballot language that favored a state takeover of schools. Beating back Gov. Nathan Deal’s effort to take over local schools and place them under the control of a superintendent of the Opportunity School District (OSD) was no small feat. It was a victory for local control that also requires all of us to consider how to address the needs of children in poverty and communities in crisis. (Recommendations for next steps for these schools are below.) •  Positive changes to the teacher and leader evaluation system in the 2016 legislative session that reduced the emphasis on standardized test scores and added a professional learning factor.

January/February 2017

•  Postponement of the push for teacher compensation based on merit pay and other Education Reform Commission recommendations before they could be fully studied. •  Feedback on development of Georgia’s revised plan to meet the new guidelines of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaced No Child Left Behind.


accounting for and paying for the presentday resource needs of all Georgia students. Whether the General Assembly addresses resources for education through fully funding QBE or a by adopting a new formula based on ERC recommendations, the critical issue is that the state provide adequate resources for students. PAGE’s legislative, communications and membership teams will work together to ensure you have the information necessary to understand the issues and to advocate for our students and our profession. I especially encourage you to sign up for our Legislative Newsletter at pageinc. org and plan to come to Atlanta for the PAGE/GAEL/GACTE Day on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Feb. 21. The event, which is co-sponsored by the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders and the Georgia Association of Colleges of Teacher Education, is well worth your time! You will gain insights into the legislative process and have an opportunity to speak with your local legislators as you connect with fellow educators from around Georgia.

nother legislative session began this month, and we have much to do. PAGE’s Legislative Task Force adopted three priorities for 2017, which you can read in more detail on page 19. PAGE adopted these priorities before Gov. Deal changed course just before the session began by announcing that he is postponing the effort to reform the state’s school funding formula for a second year. Instead, the governor intends to implement an alternative plan to accomplish the goals of his failed Amendment 1. PAGE will keep you up-to-date on all the action at the Capitol throughout the session. PAGE’s legislative priorities Continued on page 6 zero in on the most critical issues that affect student instruction: The most effective solution • Educator preparation, for ‘failing’ schools is the recruitment, retention and comcreation of true community pensation to select and keep the best educators in our classrooms; schools with lower class sizes, • Reduce over-testing of instructional interventions, students so that educators and students can spend their time on tutoring, social workers and instruction rather than assessfamily support on how to ments; and engage in student learning. • Fix education funding by



Following the Nov. 8 election, a PAGE member asked what PAGE believes should happen with schools that were eligible for the OSD. In essence, what do opponents propose as a solution for these 65,000 students? It’s a good question. As noted previously by PAGE, student growth, as measured by the College and Career Ready Performance Index, is occurring in the majority of these schools due to the hard work of educators under difficult circumstances. However, many of the students start with such an academic deficit that their positive growth is overwhelmed by not reaching an arbitrary benchmark. Our strong opposition to OSD was that it inappropriately labeled these schools as failing and that the OSD offered no improvements for these schools. I believe that the most effective solution

for these “failing” schools is the creation of true community schools. This occurs primarily by providing the wrap-around supports needed by these students at the school level: lower class sizes, additional instructional interventions, tutoring, social workers, professional learning in instructional best practices — as well as community-based family support on how to best engage in student learning. It also requires economic development commitment from the local community and state. Any effort to support these students and families and their schools will require more funding from the state and other partners. There’s no way around it: Students of poverty have much farther to go and more barriers to get there than those fortunate enough to have more resources. A leader in community conversations, PAGE will contribute the best thinking of our members and our staff to Superintendent Richard Wood’s community conversations as he leads the Georgia Department of Education in efforts to support struggling schools. n

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January/February 2017

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TEACHERS In appreciation for all you do to expand the hearts and minds of our students, the Alliance Theatre is thrilled to provide educators with FREE tickets for select early performances Find how it works at of all Alliance Theatre *Subject to availability. Restrictions apply. productions.

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January/February 2017

Clinicalce n Experie

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By Christine Van Dusen


or the first day of school this year, teenager Elizabeth Neal picked out the perfect outfit: floral-printed capris pants, a pale pink shirt and a special necklace. In her bag, she packed a new white binder and a laptop, and then she headed out the door — an hour early, just to be sure she wouldn’t be late. “I was really nervous and excited,” says Neal, a 17-year-old senior at Perry High School in Houston County. It was a pretty typical first day of school, really, in all ways but one: Neal was going to college. She’s one of a growing number of students in Georgia who are simultaneously attending high school and college as a result of changes to the Move on When Ready (MOWR) law. “I chose to do it because I’m focused on what I want to do in the future,” Neal says. “I’ve been challenging myself to get ready for the next step, and this has helped me to do that.” Though dual-enrollment opportunities have existed in the state for more than 20 years, they were scattered and sometimes confusing, so in 2009 lawmakers combined all of the programs — including Accel and the HOPE Grant for dual enrollment — into MOWR. Then, two years ago, the law was amended to cover tuition, mandatory fees and required textbooks, as well as to increase the numJanuary/February 2017

ber of courses that students can take for college credit. That’s made the program more accessible to Georgia high school students, and it’s boosted participation numbers tremendously. The goal of MOWR is to give more students access to college and prepare them with the skills necessary to enter the workforce. By all accounts, it’s a great idea and a well-loved program that gives Georgia’s students a leg up by introducing them to college-level coursework, allowing them to potentially graduate or earn a degree early, easing the transition from high school to college and giving students access to classes that might not be offered at their home schools — all at little or no cost to the student. But teachers and administrators admit the program is not without its challenges. Managing the increasingly individuated education plans for thousands of students can prove cumbersome for teachers and counselors. Communications breakdowns sometimes occur between the participating colleges and high schools. And while a high school student might have test scores that make him or her eligible to participate in MOWR, he or she still might not be academically and emotionally ready for the rigors of college courses.

“In this whole push to move as many students as you can, as quickly as you can, you have to make sure the student is truly ready,” says Matthew H. Gambill, executive director of the Georgia Association

‘You’re treated as if you’re a colle ge student,’ says Perr y High (Houston Cou nty) sen ior Eliz abe th Nea l, who tak es Eng lish at Geo rgia Mil itar y College. PAGE ONE  9

for Career & Technical Education. “That’s the piece that I think we really need to be looking at. We’ve got this program going, and it’s great, it’s available, it’s funded. So let’s make sure that everyone who does it is ready, and that we’re not going to rush them through so we get a pat on the back.”

State Pays for Tuition and Training

dent for curriculum and instruction for the Georgia Department of Education. “We want to increase college access and prepare students to enter the workforce with the skills they need to be successful.” Another change: Where once only students in 10th through 12th grades could participate, now ninthgraders are included. And students can take MOWR courses during the summers. Most participating students are using MOWR for core classes in English and math, though some are tapping the program for advanced courses that might not be available in their high schools. And many students are using MOWR to pursue industry certificates, giving them technical training they can use in the workforce. To many parents and students, this sounds like free college and training, and that sounds perfect. But succeeding in the MOWR program isn’t a cakewalk, says Monica Smith, a high school counselor in Houston County. “People think, ‘Ooh, my child can go to college for free,’ but it’s not that simple,” she says. “I

The first MOWR law from 2009 “was a kind of hybrid program for students that literally wanted to move on,” Gambill says. “If you met certain requirements, you could go on to post-secondary school and get a college degree. But it didn’t have any of the provisions we have in the new MOWR law.” The 2015 amendment put the program “on steroids,” he adds. The program now covers tuition and books for college-level courses available through the University System of Georgia’s 29 institutions. Some classes are taken on college campuses, others via distance learning and others at the high schools with visiting professors. Any credits the student earns through MOWR will transfer to the state’s college system. All of this makes it possible for participating students to earn their associate’s degrees before graduating from high school. These classes don’t affect HOPE scholarship money. “The aim was to expand ‘People think , ‘Ooh dual-enrollment opportunities , my child by increasing the number of ca n go to colle ge for free courses a student can take for .’ college credit and removing Bu t it ’s no t th at si m ple,’ says financial barriers to student Houston C oun ty participation,” says Pamela H. C ounse lor Smith, associate superintenMonic a

Smit h.


think it’s a good program. It’s a growing program, growing faster than everyone has expected it to, and that’s not a bad thing. There are just always some growing pains.”

Counselors Must Individualize Plans

The MOWR program has posed some significant administrative challenges for schools and counselors. “You have to map out a plan and then meet with the admissions rep from the college, and enroll in the classes, and then sign a participation agreement that says they will follow these rules,” says Monica Smith. Every step requires serious involvement from already overworked school counselors and administrators who must help students set up their individual curriculum plans, work out complicated schedules and arrange transportation to the partnering colleges when necessary. Counselors must also help students determine which kinds of classes are best. Should it be MOWR, which is accepted by state schools, or Advanced Placement (AP), which is preferred by out-ofstate colleges, or International Baccalaureate (IB)?

the ‘You have to m ake su re ’ says st uden t is tr ul y re ady, ecut ive M at thew Gam bi ll, ex a di re ctor of the Ge orgi & Association for Care er Te chnica l Educ at ion. January/February 2017

“One thing we’re hearing from school counselors is that they’re feeling completely overwhelmed by the increased interest in it, and getting a lot of questions, and having to focus on keeping up with students and participation and recruiting and helping them navigate,” says Gambill. Communication has been another challenge. Many teachers, counselors and administrators feel as though they barely get a chance to wrap their minds around the program before they’re given “clarifications” from the state and the post-secondary schools. “It is a challenge to make sure we’re staying current with everything,” says the State DOE’s Smith. “They’re constantly updating the FAQs about MOWR and holding webinars and face-to-face training to talk about and answer questions.” And different colleges may have different rules. Gary Mealer, transition career partnership and JROTC program specialist with the Georgia Department of Education, offers this example: “Some of the colleges are still setting an age requirement of 16, so even though the students could technically par-

‘C ounse lors h ave to help w it h the so cia l and em o tion a l pieces of this, as wel l as the care ers and colle ge piece,’ says Dr. Bri tt ney Wilso n, chie f academic of fice r for Ca lh oun Cit y Sch ools. January/February 2017

ticipate in ninth or 10th grade, they can’t because the colleges won’t allow it.”

Maturity Required: ‘There’s No Do-Over’

The biggest challenge posed by MOWR, however, is the one that relates directly to the students — are they actually ready to move on? “This is a great opportunity for all students,” says Lakisha Bonner, coordinator of counseling and career development in Fayette County Public Schools. “But every student may not be ready to take on this responsibility of going off to college, especially since you can start as early as ninth grade.” According to Monica Smith, students can become overwhelmed: “It has to be the mature student who is ready to handle that extra pressure. They’re learning to balance.” For her part, Neal, the Houston County senior does about two extra hours of schoolwork a week as a result of the English course she’s taking at Georgia Military College. “I’ve had to focus more on my school,” says Neal, who has been accepted to the University of Georgia and Oklahoma State University. “They don’t treat you like a high school student. You’re treated as if you’re a college student. So I’m definitely making sure I manage my time wisely. This pushed me further and past my limits for what I was

most comfortable doing.” She still finds time for some extracurricular activities and socializing, she says, but that time is very limited. “Is [MOWR] saying that a traditional high school experience is no longer necessary, a waste of time, and that you need to immediately be ready to move on and get out as quickly as possible?” Gambill asks. “I worry about that, too. You’ve got to make sure the student is truly ready. Just because they meet the academic side of the equation does not necessarily mean they’re ready emotionally or socially to leave high school and go.” So what happens when a student enters MOWR and actually isn’t ready? It’s not as simple as just stepping away and going back to the high school. There’s no do-over, says Bonner. “The grades will come back. We don’t have the luxury to say, ‘You didn’t do so well, so we won’t count this class,’” she says. “If you do it as MOWR, that grade goes on your transcript and can have an impact on your overall GPA. And the parents can’t ask for parent-teacher conferences, like they do in the high school. The child has to be mature enough and independent enough to handle this.” If a MOWR student does drop a college class, it can be difficult to find the right replacement class at the high school. “When they withdraw, you want to be able to bring them back to campus and put them in a class. But at Clayton State [University] the drop date is Oct. 7. For us, that’s seven or nine weeks into our semester,” says Bonner. She sets up this scene: Let’s say a MOWR student enrolls in microeconomics at a college, and then drops it. When he returns to high school and tries to continue his or her economics education, he will find that there is no specific course about microeconomics. In fact, the economics class is a mix of micro and macro, and he has missed the macro section. “He’ll still have to take the end-of-course test, which is 20 percent of the grade, but he’ll have missed half the material,” says Bonner.

AP and IB Students Often Forgo MOWR

At Dalton Public Schools, the number of students enrolled in MOWR more than doubled last year, going from 20 to 45, PAGE ONE  11


Certified Educator Job Fair Who Should Attend? • Certified educators • Those eligible for teaching certification for the 2017-18 school year

What to Expect: • Information about South Metro Suburban Region & Schools

What to bring with you: • At least 15 copies of a onepage resume to provide system human resources and school reps

• Meet staff and representatives from eight (8) South Metro Suburban Region & School systems representing 125+ schools and more than 100,000 students

Saturday, April 29,2017 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. Griffin RESA (Directions/Map: Pre-registration is not required For more information contact Griffin RESA at 770-229-3247 or visit Representatives from the Griffin RESA TAPP (Teacher Alternative Preparation Programs) will also be on hand to answer questions for eligible participants. To check eligibilty requirements, please visit and click on “GaTAPP” and then click on “Information Brochure.”

says Jennifer Phinney, director of school support. The number plateaued this year, in part because students prefer to have college instructors come to Dalton schools rather than traveling, and the district doesn’t offer the option. Also, Dalton State College — where a vast majority of the local MOWR students are placed — has set entrance requirements a bit higher. “That limits the number of students participating,” Phinney says. “At the other end of the spectrum, some of our highest-achieving students want to keep private and out-ofstate options open, and those schools are not obligated to accept MOWR credits, and more often than not, do not take them.” Dalton’s AP and IB programs are “very robust,” she adds. “And more elite schools prefer their candidates access those curricula over dual enrollment.” Phinney is worried that there is too much focus on moving on and out. “There are some realities that come along with a 20-year-old trying to get hired as a teacher or a police officer or a nurse,” she says. “My concern is that students will go through the Move on When Ready program,

graduate from high school with an associate degree — we had three students do that last year and have four or five that will do that this year — go on to finish their bachelor’s degree and then really struggle to find employment.” It’s too soon to say whether or not that will be commonplace. And it’s too early to tell what impact MOWR will have on the local workforce. But Phinney expects it will be dramatic. “Dual enrollment with our local technical college is having some impact on workforce development with a new industrial maintenance program, as well as a well-articulated ChemTech program that students can access in high school at [Georgia Northwestern Technical College] and then transfer to Dalton State to finish a bachelor’s degree,” she says.

Pressure to Get Ahead

Se nior Via Garcia, wh o plans to be a nu rse anes thet ist, ‘grabbe d the opportunit y’ to take colle ge co urses while at tending Ca lho un (Ci ty) Colle ge and Caree r Ac ademy. January/February 2017

“If you’re not ahead, you’re already behind.” That’s what a 2013 graduate of Calhoun City Schools said when she was later at the University of Georgia. Though she had graduated in the top five of her high school class, she had not participated in dual enrollment during high school, and as a result she felt as though she might never catch up. “That was a wake-up call for us,” says Dr. Brittney Wilson, chief academic officer for the district. So the district pushed for greater participation and went from having no high school students in dualenrollment programs in 2011 to 22 percent today. Counselors now start talking to students when they’re in the fifth and sixth grades, to help them pinpoint their passions and identify strong skill sets. That way, by the time they’re in high school, they’ll already be on their path to college or a career. In some cases, high school students who enroll in MOWR take

post-secondary classes at the high school with teachers who have met the teaching requirements. Other times, adjunct professors come to the high school. And in other cases, high school students travel to the colleges or take classes online. Almost every student has an individualized education plan, says Wilson. “The difficult part is that we’d love to have more counselors, more administrators, but we have to figure out how to work with what we have,” she says. “These aren’t just advisors. These counselors have to help with the social and emotional pieces of this, as well as the careers and college piece.” In the recent past, most of those efforts focused on high-achieving students with desires of going to a four-year college, but now the district is trying to increase participation among students who might prefer a two-year technical college certification or an associate’s program. Via Garcia is a senior in the Calhoun College and Career Academy and is enrolled in a mix of Advanced Placement and MOWR courses, taking the latter either online at the high school or on campus at Georgia Northwestern Technical, Dalton State and Chattahoochee Technical College. She wants to be a nurse anesthetist, a path that first piqued her interest after she saw the way nurses tended to her grandmother when she was in the hospital. “Balancing my life as high schooler and a student completing college courses is like juggling, in that the responsibilities are overwhelming at times,” Garcia says. “But I see the benefits and advantages of taking college courses while in high school. I grabbed the opportunity.” n PAGE ONE  13



his report was written before the announcement by Gov. Nathan Deal that he would postpone any consideration of adopting any of the state education funding reforms as recommended by the Education Reform Commission in December 2015. This is the second straight legislative session that the governor decided to postpone addressing the ERC’s recommendations so that he can focus his efforts on other education issues. Last year, Deal unexpectedly announced that he would hold the recommendations for further review until 2017 in part because of concerns about performance-based or merit-based pay proposals. (Read the full ERC report at This year, the failure of Amendment 1 prompted the governor to focus on a secondary plan to impose interventions from the state level for individual schools that

do not meet CCRPI benchmarks. Any intervention plan still must deal with state funding of appropriate supports for schools that struggle to meet academic expectations while still meeting the needs of all of Georgia’s students and schools. This report by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute presents an excellent analysis of the ERC’s proposed new school funding formula, which also serves to demonstrate the shortcomings of Georgia’s 31-year-old Quality Basic Education funding formula. You can stay informed of all the announcements and actions related to education from the governor’s office, the legislature and the state board of education through PAGE reports delivered to your in-box. Sign up at under the legislative tab.

Student Success in the Balance Georgia Schools Likely Worse Off With the Proposed Funding Formula The following is an excerpt of the fall 2016 Georgia Budget & Policy Institute report written by GBPI Senior Education Policy Analyst Claire Suggs.


trong public schools are essential in preparing students for post-secondary study and for the demands of a competitive job market. Adequate resources are a central component of strong schools. Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission (ERC) proposes a new formula to fund public schools that offers flexibility but falls short in several key areas. Georgia’s students and communities will be saddled with those shortcomings if the 2017 General Assembly adopts the new model as is. Districts would likely receive less state funding than under a fully funded version of the current system, leaving them without enough resources to provide a quality education. The formula also underfunds low-income students as well as rural communities with higher transportation costs. Lawmakers can correct these funding gaps by making four specific changes before passing the proposal into law: 14  PAGE ONE

1. Add an adjustment for inflation. The proposed formula contains no adjustment for inflation and it eliminates the current annual adjustment for teachers’ salaries. The current QBE formula also lacks an inflation factor, but it compensates teachers for years of experience and graduate degrees. The proposed formula provides a flat salary with no other adjustment to keep pace with rising costs. This will push districts to increase local revenues, although that might not be an option for those at or near the 20 mills rate cap. Currently, to receive state funding, districts must contribute the equivalent of 5 mills of property tax. However, most districts contribute much more than even the 12.5 mills needed to receive an equalization grant. Many are at or close to the state’s 20 mills cap. In 2015, 155 districts of Georgia’s 180 districts had millage rates of 14 or higher, the rate required in 2019 to receive equalization funding.

2. Increase funding for students, schools and districts with greater needs. The proposed supplemental funding for economically disadvantaged students is too low: just $232 over the 180-day school year. This supplement should be $600 — the amount calculated if the formula used the average weight nationally for these students. A HighNeeds Grant program should also be established for schools with high concentrations of economically disadvantaged students and those learning English. Economically disadvantaged students often face hurdles to learning and need extra support to overcome them. Their numbers are growing. In 2002, about 45 percent of Georgia’s K-12 students participated in the National School Lunch Program for free and reduced-priced meals. That number reached 62 percent in 2016, one of the highest in the nation. The proposed supplement of $232 is likely insufficient to pay for ways to improve learning for these students, including small class sizes, extended learning time and one-on-one tutoring. The benefits of increased funding for January/February 2017

There’s No Clear Link Between Student Achievement and Teacher Performance Pay According to research: •  A study of New York City’s performance pay model did not find evidence of improved student achievement. •  A study of the performance pay system in Nashville, Tennessee, found it had largely no effect on student achievement. •  A study from Texas that compared performance plans across districts found no impact on student achievement. •  Researchers examining the pay-for-performance program in Austin, Texas, found positive gains in student test scores in the first year of implementation, but no gains in the second year. •  A review of Minnesota’s voluntary pay-for-performance plan found a positive effect on student achievement, though inexperienced teachers had the most productivity gains. This range of results indicates changes in teacher compensation should first be tested, and their impact on students and teachers should be rigorously evaluated.

low-income students are clear: They stay in school longer and are more likely to graduate; they also have higher earnings as adults and lower poverty rates. 3. Broaden the criteria to identify economically disadvantaged students. The proposal changes the way lowincome students are identified; it cuts by nearly half the number of children who meet the definition. The national standard to measure economically disadvantaged students has been participation in the National School Lunch Program. The program provides free lunches to students whose family income is up to 130 percent of the federal poverty line ($26,208 for a family of three in the 2016-17 school year). Reduced-price lunches are offered to students whose family income is between 131 and 185 percent of the federal poverty line (up to $37,296 for a family of three). In the 2015-16 school year, 62.5 percent of Georgia’s public school K-12 students participated in the program. The funding committee recommends defining economically disadvantaged students as children who: •  Live in a family unit receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits •  Live in a family unit receiving January/February 2017

Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits •  Are identified as homeless •  Are identified as living in foster care •  Are identified as migrant Under the new criteria, the percentage of students who qualify as economically disadvantaged falls to 34.8 percent from 62.5 percent under today’s formula. The strict eligibility requirements Georgia uses for the TANF and SNAP programs are the cause of this sharp decline. To qualify for TANF benefits, families of three in Georgia must earn less than about $9,400 annually. (In the 2015 fiscal year, fewer than 26,000 Georgians received TANF benefits.) The SNAP program is limited to families earning up to 130 percent of the federal poverty level, well below the criteria that many other states set. Furthermore, about 25 percent of eligible Georgians do not participate in the SNAP program. 4. Continue to fund student transportation as a separate grant. The proposal ends the grant program that accounts for the wide variation in district costs and shifts transportation dollars into the per-student base

amount. That puts many rural districts and others with high transportation costs at a disadvantage. In FY15, districts spent on average $455 per student to bus students to and from school. In all, 108 districts spent more than that: 54 spent at least $100 more and six spent $900 or more. For districts that receive a Low Density Grant, expenses could be partially offset, but other districts may need to divert local funds to pay for busing expenses now covered by the state. Moving transportation funding into the student base cost calculation also locks in underfunding. State funding for busing has been shrinking for two decades. The state contributed less than 17 percent to district transportation Continued on page 16

The percentage of students who qualify as economically disadvantaged would fall to 34.8 percent from 62.5 percent under today’s formula. PAGE ONE  15

Legislative The ERC’s Proposed Funding Formula The Education Reform Commission funding model provides districts with a base amount of $2,393 for each student. The weight assigned to students in kindergarten through third grade, for example, is 0.2872, which multiplied by the base amount, equals $687. These students are allotted $3,080, the $2,393 base amount plus a $687 weighted amount. The base and weighted amounts can be used without restriction by districts that operate as Charter or Strategic Waiver school systems, which covers 178 of Georgia’s 180 districts. Districts gain this flexibility by entering agreements with the Georgia State Board of Education to meet specific student learning goals. Today’s Quality Basic Education formula controls spending with regulations for maximum class sizes, teacher salaries, counselor-to-student ratios and other factors. Proponents say flexibility will improve student achievement because it allows districts to direct money to programs and policies tailored to best suit their students’ needs. Empirical research on this claim is limited and its findings are inconclusive.

Continued from page 15

costs in 2013-14, down from 33 percent in 2003-04 and 49 percent in 1995-96.


n overarching concern is that the proposed funding formula was not developed as a result of an evidencebased assessment of the funding needed to provide all Georgia students with a quality education. Georgia spends $1,800 less on each student than the national average, ranking 38th in per-student spending. The ERC tied future funding levels to the existing 31-year-old QBE formula. This does not take into account Georgia’s rapidly changing student population. Nor did the commission assess the cost of educating students to the state’s current performance standards. Cost assessments are common when states examine and revise school funding. The potential elimination of austerity cuts, which added up to more than $9 billion between fiscal years 2003 and 2017, is valuable progress. But the core question remains: How much does it cost to educate all of Georgia’s students to the level of achievement the state now expects? Answering this question is critical. The state instituted the Georgia Standards of Excellence, which define what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. These stan16  PAGE ONE

dards far surpass the state’s expectations for students in 1985. The state’s investment in students should match its goals for them. This is particularly urgent for economically disadvantaged students who benefit significantly from added support. HOW TEACHERS WOULD BE PAID

The commission recommends a new method to fund teachers’ salaries. The proposal says the state will provide districts with the 2016 statewide average teacher salary of $50,768 for each teacher. This money would be included in the student base amount. This is not the amount teachers will be paid. Districts would be required to design or adopt new teacher compensation models to distribute this money to teachers. The models would need to include a measure of teacher effectiveness. So if a district has four teachers the state will provide it with $203,072 for salaries. The district could choose to pay two teachers, $41,000 each and two $60,536 each. Or one salary could be $43,000, the second $48,000, the third $55,000 and the fourth $57,072. Or the pay could be at other levels the new compensation model sets. These methods would immediately apply to all new teachers. The salaries of current teachers will continue to be funded by the state under today’s for-

mula, except for those who choose their districts’ new compensation model or who are moved to those models as part of their districts’ charter or strategic waiver systems’ plans. The proposed formula lacks a mechanism to adjust teacher salaries for inflation or otherwise. Instead it relies on the General Assembly to review the teacher salary levels each year and make adjustments as deemed appropriate. Given the legislature’s history of infrequent updates to teacher salaries and other elements of the QBE formula, routine funding increases could remain uncommon. Districts with limited ability to raise local revenue to keep pace with inflation could find it more difficult to attract and retain teachers. Pay for Georgia’s teachers already trails that of workers with similar education levels by about 30 percent. RECOMMENDATIONS

The ERC’s proposed formula provides flexibility to district leaders, enhancing their abilities to better match resources with the instructional and organizational practices they believe best meet their students’ learning needs. It falls short in critical areas, however. To repair them, the General Assembly can: •  Incorporate an annual inflation adjustment. State funding should be adjusted annually in line with the Consumer Price Index calculated January/February 2017

by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In addition, a legislative task force should be convened every three years to review and recalibrate the base and all weighted amounts to ensure they accurately reflect the cost of educating students in each funding category. The task force should also ensure teacher salaries are competitive with professionals in fields requiring comparable education levels. •  Increase funding for students, schools and districts with above-average needs. Lawmakers can make progress toward the goal of providing adequate funding with two targeted, straightforward reforms to the proposed formula:


a.  Increase the amount allotted to economically disadvantaged students to at least $600. That’s about what Georgia would allocate if the weight for the supplemental funding allotted to these students met the national average. b.  Establish a High-Needs Grant program for schools where 55 percent or more of students are economically disadvantaged or English language learners. Several states provide additional funding to these schools to ensure they can offer the full scope of support their students need. California is a good model. •  Broaden the proposed methodology beyond SNAP or TANF eligibility to identify economically disadvantaged students. Guidance offered by the National Forum on Education Statistics indicates that adding family income data for students to the

Georgia spends $1,800 less on each student than the national average, ranking 38th in per-student spending. mix would capture a comparable portion of economically disadvantaged students. The approach adopted by California and other states may also offer reliable models for identifying economically disadvantaged students. •  Maintain a separate grant program for student transportation. Counting transportation money as part of the base student amount threatens to shortchange rural areas and other districts with high transportation costs. Georgia’s current school funding formula has stood for 31 years. It is likely the next one will stand for many years as well. Georgia needs to get this right. n

$1,000 Scholarships for Future and Veteran Educators … But You Can’t Win if You Don’t Apply!

ant to lose $1,000? It is easy if you fail to apply for a PAGE Foundation Scholarship that might have been yours. Each year, the PAGE Foundation offers several $1,000 scholarships to help aspiring and veteran educators earn advanced or undergraduate degrees. Winning a PAGE Foundation Scholarship might be easier than you think; in some categories, few candidates apply. All PAGE members, including college students, paraprofessionals and veteran educators, are encouraged to compete. More than $300,000 in scholarships have been awarded by the PAGE Foundation since 1986. You could be a future recipient, but you must apply. Visit to learn more. Application deadline is April 30, 2017.

Chantrell Bruton, one of several PAGE Foundation scholarship winners

January/February 2017


2016-2017 PAGE Officers & Board of Directors

Amy Denty President

Kelli De Guire President-Elect

Stephanie Davis Howard Past President

Megan King Secretary

Lamar Scott Treasurer

Jamilya Mayo District 3

Lance James District 7

Miranda Willingham District 9







Nick Zomer District 5



th h






10th Mc Du







Shannon Hammond District 10


Rochelle Lofstrand District 4 (Atlanta City, DeKalb)





13th mery




1st Evans







Dr. Susan Mullins District 6

Dr. Oatanisha Dawson District 1

8th Donna Graham District 12

Dr. Sandra Owens District 11

Lindsey Martin District 8

Vickie Hammond Ex Officio

Brecca Pope District 2

Dr. Hayward Cordy District 13

Professional Association of Georgia Educators 2017 Legislative Agenda By Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE Director of Legislative Services PREPARING, RECRUITING, RETAINING, AND COMPENSATING HIGH-QUALITY EDUCATORS

While the growth of student enrollment in Georgia far exceeds the national average 1, enrollment in Georgia’s teacher preparation programs is down 16 percent over the past five years2, and 44 percent of Georgia teachers with fewer than five years of experience leave the profession3. State leaders should analyze recommendations from Gov. Nathan Deal’s Education Reform Commission (ERC) and the Teacher Advisory Committee (TAC) to ensure that new policy does not exacerbate educator attrition. In particular, teacher compensation systems should not be based on student standardized test scores; rather, they must encourage high-quality educators to continue serving Georgia students. STUDENT TESTING REQUIREMENTS

Professional educators support assessment that informs student instruction. Parents and educators cheered when the 2016 Georgia General Assembly unanimously passed Senate Bill 364, which eliminated eight state-required standardized tests and allowed districts to substitute unpopular Student Learning

Objectives (SLOs) testing with indicators that districts believe better measure student growth. However, Georgia appears poised to reject these hard-fought revisions and create new standardized tests. The TAC proposal to reinstitute SLOs is founded on evaluating teachers rather than student learning. Testing already takes excessive time away from instruction; additional testing will academically harm students. EDUCATION FUNDING REFORM – BALANCING FLEXIBILITY AND ADEQUATE FUNDING

The governor’s ERC package and its overhaul of Georgia’s 31-year old Quality Basic Education (QBE) funding formula had been expected to move through the 2017 General Assembly. However, at the start of the session Gov. Deal announced that he has postponed any consideration of adopting the ERC funding reform recommendations. Eventual funding changes should be adopted only if they clearly benefit Georgia students. Indeed,

some ERC recommendations have widespread stakeholder support. Policymakers must consider the actual cost of public education — a consideration beyond the governor’s directive to the ERC. The new QBE formula must include an inflation factor to ensure that funding keeps pace with real costs. Additionally, increased local spending flexibility should be balanced against local budgetary pressures, including educator compensation, smaller class sizes and other important costs associated with providing a 21st century public education. n CITATIONS

1. National Center for Education Statistics 2. Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia 3. Professional Standards Commission: Georgia Public P-12 Education Workforce Status Report 2015

PAGE/GAEL/ GACTE Day on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Feb. 21 • Breakfast at the Capitol • Meetings and Lunch with Legislators Register now at January/February 2017


PAGE Annual Survey Garners 5,000+ Responses

Nearly Half of Georgia Educators Say They Will Leave the Profession Within 10 Years By Josh Stephens, PAGE Legislative Policy Analyst


n 2016, the voices of Georgia educators led to significant changes in standardized testing and educator evaluations. Once Senate Bill 364 was

signed into law by Gov. Nathan Deal in May, educators successfully turned their sights to defeating the proposed Opportunity School District to allow the state to take over struggling schools. As PAGE enters the 2017 The PAGE legislative survey legislative session of the Georgia General garnered 5,021 responses — Assembly, educators’ almost 70 percent of whom are voices remain the key veteran classroom teachers with to transforming public education. more than 10 years of service. Of During the 2016 the respondents, 45 percent said legislative session, they are unlikely to remain in Deal postponed movement of the Education education for the next 10 years. Reform Commission A majority, 53 percent, would not (ERC) recommendations and convened recommend a career in education. a Teacher Advisory With the current teacher shortage Committee to provide and continuing teacher pipeline feedback on the ERC recommendations. issues, these statistics are of great PAGE expects the ERC concern to PAGE. recommendations to dominate much of the

Rank your support for compensation based on standardized test scores. Answered: 3,790 Skipped: 1,231

2017 legislative session. In November 2016, PAGE released its annual legislative survey to hone educator voices into tangible data to be used during the current legislative session. The survey garnered 5,021 responses — almost 70 percent of whom are veteran classroom teachers with more than 10 years of service. Among the respondents, 45 percent said they are unlikely to remain in education for the next 10 years. A majority, 53 percent, would not recommend a career in education. With the current teacher shortage and continuing teacher pipeline issues, these statistics are of great concern to PAGE. On general education policy issues, more than 60 percent of educators are opposed to expanding private school voucher programs in Georgia. Nearly as many educators, 59 percent, oppose converting the Teacher Retirement System from a defined benefit (pension) plan to a defined contribution (similar to 401k) plan. And 71 percent oppose Georgia’s current standardized testing program, with another 56 percent opposing state-

Would you opt to switch to a new compensation system that incorporates pay for performance? Answered: 3,758 Skipped: 1,265




70% 68%







30% 20%


10% 0%

Strongly Oppose



20% 7%





Strongly Support


9% Yes


January/February 2017

developed pre and post tests (Student Learning Objectives).

Preserve Planning Time

Educators generally support recommendations from the ERC Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Compensation subcommittee. Most notably, preserving teacher planning time and including a question in Leader Keys Effectiveness System climate surveys about how well administrators protect planning time received support from more than 92 percent of educators. Moreover, 94 percent of educators support the recommendation that the state respects teachers’ instructional time by minimizing additional requirements outside of instruction. Respondents also generally support the recommendations of the Move On When Ready subcommittee. Regarding the creation of an Education Savings Account plan, 32 percent of educators are opposed and 51 percent are neutral to the idea.

Many Educators Did Not Get a Raise During the 2016 legislative session, after replenishing some austerity budget cuts, Deal recommended that each district provide employees with a 3 percent pay increase. While the partial replacement of funds was welcomed by districts, many were unable to provide true pay raises because the funds were

not added to the state salary An overwhelming majority schedule. While 45 percent of respondents did receive pay of educators, 90 percent, raises, another 22 percent only oppose basing compensation received a one-time bonus. About 13 percent saw the on standardized test scores, elimination of furlough days in and 91 percent would not their districts rather than a pay opt to switch to a new increase. When asked about the curcompensation system rent teacher compensation that incorporates pay for system, 47 percent support it. An overwhelming majority of performance. educators, 90 percent, oppose basing compensation on standardized test scores, and 91 percent would not opt to switch to a new compensation system that incorcited most impactful: class sizes, student porates pay for performance. discipline and satisfaction with school Nearly two-thirds of respondents, 64 leadership. percent, are doubtful that their district Technology was in the spotlight this has the ability to develop its own teacher year as students taking the Georgia compensation system, while 93 percent Milestones standardized test faced are doubtful that the state can develop issues to the extent that test scores were the system. largely not used by schools for promoAmong educators who participated in tion or retention purposes. A majority the PAGE survey, 79 percent have earned of respondents, 69 percent, are satisfied a graduate degree. Of those with graduwith educator access to technology, while ate degrees, 63 percent would not have 56 percent are satisfied with student attended graduate school if they had access to technology. known their pay would not be increased. When asked to rank the impact that funding has on aspects of school climate, Class Sizes, Discipline Impact educators stated that salary increases (or Climate lack thereof) had the largest impact, with When asked to rank school climate class size close behind. issues as they relate to an educators’ Teachers Speak Out ability to teach kids, the following were

on Compensation

If you answered “Yes” to Question 7, would you have attended graduate school if you knew your pay would not be increased?

Did you receive additional compensation in your district in 2016-17 through a pay raise, one-time bonus, elimination of furlough days or did you not receive additional compensation?



Answered: 3,563 Skipped: 1,458

70% 60%


Answered: 3,557 Skipped: 1,464






40% 20%

30% 20%



10% 0%


January/February 2017


Not Applicable

22% 19% 13%

10% 0%

Pay Raise

One-Time Bonus

Elimination of Furlough Days

No Additional Compensation


PAGE Annual Survey Garners 5,000+ Responses In recent months, more than 5,000 educators responded to the PAGE survey to help us determine legislative priorities. Below are just a handful of the thousands of open-ended comments we received from Georgia educators regarding compensation: What impact will the proposed shift away from teacher compensation based on years of experience and advanced degrees have on teacher recruitment and retention? It will impact teacher recruitment and retention tremendously. Many teachers are threatening to leave now because of the workload, student behavior and lack of support from administration and parents. There are too many social factors outside of teacher control. It would affect willingness to work with the most at-risk learners. It will drive good teachers away from the profession and make it more difficult to recruit good teachers. We’re no longer in just a field-specific shortage. The shortage is now being seen across all certification fields, grade levels and subject areas. As an educator in a very low socioeconomic school with minimal parental support, it is unfair to hold me accountable for a third-grader who comes to my class unable to read Dolch words and then goes on to do poorly on standardized tests. Until all students are created equal, pay based on performance is not fair. I have students who are years behind academically. Pay for performance would show that I am not an adequate teacher, however, in another class, my students are performing well above their peers. I am the same teacher. Most teachers expect to be held accountable for student growth, but basing pay on testing will only promote teaching to the test. We have a dire teacher shortage. On the Teach Georgia website there are currently 106 openings in SPED, 90 openings in elementary schools. We need people to stay, not leave. Competition will discourage collaboration and create a less inviting working environment. It will be difficult to pull quality secondcareer individuals into education. I recommend that my daughter, who teaches eighth-grade science, get her master’s degree in a science field that also prepares her for the private sector. Advanced degrees make less of a difference than experience with good mentoring and strong support.


Teachers are already underpaid. They earn degrees to balance their salary. Many new teachers are talking about finding another line of work. You will have a mass exodus of teachers. Experience and advanced education improves professional ability. There are way too many factors, such as attendance and desire to learn, outside of our control. The rate of new teachers who leave the profession will increase significantly. Nothing takes the place of experience. Teachers will flock to other states. Pay for performance should be a bonus opportunity. Standardized test scores should not be punitive. Recruitment and retention will decrease. Why punish the teachers for the parents’ failures? Teachers deserve compensation for years worked, like any other profession. Education programs at Georgia’s colleges will take a direct hit. Many valuable teachers will not obtain the degrees needed to advance into positions that they would be wonderful for, such as instructional coach, administrator or positions at the board of education. As a teacher, I am supposed to encourage students to go to college. However, when I earn an advanced degree, I receive nothing for it. Experience and dedication should be rewarded. Freshness, continued ingenuity, student outcomes should also impact compensation for pay. It isn’t an all this or that. Look at the big picture. It is like “whole language vs. phonics” — you need both. It will change the classroom from a culture that promotes curiosity and joy of learning to a factory-style culture. Varied compensation methods within districts will cause less wealthy districts to compete with wealthier districts. Why would a young, bright professional choose education? For the first time in 30 years, I am thrilled that my girls are choosing other professions. Morale is very low!

People have spent time, talent and money to earn their degree. Years of experience should count, as it does in every other profession. Teachers will no longer pursue advanced degrees and more experienced teachers will leave the profession. We need to provide incentives to attract the best teachers to the lowestperforming schools. How will teachers be mentored if veteran teachers leave the classroom? Teachers will go to school systems where there is parent support and students have inner motivation to learn. Advanced degrees show that educators are making an effort to broaden their knowledge and are willing to make financial and personal sacrifices. If you have an underperforming teacher, it is the responsibility of the administration to address these issues. We need to consider many factors, such as poverty, the growth that each student makes from the fall to the end of the school year and the availability of remediation resources. Special education teachers would never receive a pay raise because their students perform historically low. I have worked hard during my 20 years of teaching to earn additional degrees. You might be able to pay someone less, but they won’t be able to do the job that I do. Teachers have no control over parent involvement, attendance and the home environment, so paying teachers based on performance is very unfair. Good teachers will leave bad schools. There would be no incentive for teachers to improve themselves through further education. This would significantly impact teacher knowledge and practice in the classroom. No one will want to teach in highpoverty schools or teach special education students. There will be a mass exodus of good veteran teachers who have worked hard for years and on advanced degrees. Teachers will teach only to the test. Georgia schools will see higher turnover and more classes filled with less experienced teachers. January/February 2017

Good teachers stay because we are passionate. Pay me for my years of service and my decision to educate myself to improve my teaching practices and ultimately increase student growth. It only takes a few months for new teachers to realize what a horrible mistake they have made choosing this profession. We are at about a five-year deficit of teachers due to the recession. Now is not the time to make the job harder than it already is. Many teachers spend their own money and time away from their families to provide students with opportunities that they otherwise might not have. Experience helps teachers improve their strategies and help fellow teachers. It is insulting not to pay teachers for their experience! Teachers will leave high-poverty schools. Advanced degrees help teachers learn to handle problems in the company of experts and colleagues. This community of practitioners can sustain a teacher through classroom struggles. It will lead to continued teaching to the test and inauthentic learning experiences for students. Many new teachers don’t yet have classroom management under their belt, thus many leave after one to three years. Kids are intolerant of those who are not able to manage behavior. One needs to have been in the trenches to win the war! Who would teach at-risk students? Tests scores are just a snapshot of what a student has learned. What would be the purpose of longterm commitment? My son, who has a two-year nursing degree, earns more than a four-year degree beginning teacher. Having large student loans due to my advanced degree and working in a Title 1 school, I would have to leave the profession. It seems odd to discourage advanced education in an education business. Many private schools advertise how many doctorates, graduate degrees their faculty has. As my daughter considered a career path in college, she changed from education. She didn’t think it was worth it for the pay vs. the headaches. Another friend whose daughter has been teaching two years is leaving the profession. Both of these young women were born teachers. New teachers will be mentorless.

January/February 2017

Why wouldn’t you pay teachers based on years of experience? Do all those years count for nothing? Do teachers get worse as they go? Should we pay all Georgia lawmakers according to how well their ideas work out? Should we pay police according to how many criminals commit a second crime? How about we pay doctors by how many patients get cured? Lawyers for how many cases they win? Firefighters for how many structures they are able to save? We are not working on commission here. We are forced to take any and every student given to us, deal with all of their individual issues in learning or otherwise, and try to make them as successful as possible. We have no choice in whom we serve, and we have no control over how dedicated they are in their studies. After long hours of teaching, helping outside of the normal school day, communication with parents/caregivers and countless other duties outside of the classroom, in the end, we actually have no control over the outcome of our labors. How is anyone going to pay us fairly based on those outcomes?

After 35 years of teaching, I know I am a better teacher. No matter how “creative and innovative” new teachers are, they lack experience. My students have been my best teachers. Teachers can’t fix problems at home, and when new teachers see that they are asked to perform miracles for performance-based pay, they will be turned off from the profession. Research shows that higher education produces better teachers. You don’t know if one student had to sleep outside the night before a test and another student had a good night’s rest. A pay-for-performance system works well when the worker has control of the outcome, as in manufacturing when materials and equipment perform exactly as programmed. Teachers working in high-poverty areas will work their tails off, while being under compensated for their efforts. Pay for performance begs for cheating. Administrators will make sure that their favorite teachers have the “best” kids. Teachers will not collaborate because pay for performance creates competition. No teacher will want to work in low-income schools, so students will suffer. Until parents are forced to be a part of their children’s education, the teacher is to blame. A performance-based system would create more competition between schools and teachers. We need to work together to strengthen our communities. If you want to push people out the door, this will do it. Teachers at schools with high poverty rates and higher dropout rates will make less because those students tend to have lower scores on standardized tests.

I have a hard-earned specialist degree that has impacted thousands of students for the good. You will have a generation of students who are taught how to take a test. If we were truly supporting students, then highly qualified educators would include further education and years of experience. Compensation will be given on the basis of favoritism. Teachers are sometimes given the more difficult classes as punishment. College students are steering clear of education degrees because teachers are not paid for the hours they put in and there are too many issues dealing with parents and poor student behavior. Great teachers who make a difference will leave failing and low-performing schools. Advanced degrees are an excellent way to learn new ideas, strengthen skills and develop leadership qualities. How can a teacher be held accountable for the performance of a student who is hungry, had no sleep or has no support at home? A student’s home life largely determines their ability to learn. Very few people want to stay in highpoverty areas. Many are leaving the field due to lack of parent/government support. Behavior is becoming much worse due to PBIS and lack of consequences for behavior. We need the most highly educated and experienced teachers to remain in the profession versus those that only meet the minimum education requirements and have the least experience. n


Professional Learning

Burke County Teacher Leaders and Administrators Tackle School Climate Challenges en Route to Designing Engaging Work By Bill McCown, PAGE Professional Learning


ransformation requires intentional effort and the will to change. The spark that initiates such difficult work oftentimes is unanticipated. Dramatic improvements become evident as systems improve. Burke County Public Schools began an instructional and cultural transformation in the spring of 2015 when Superintendent Rudy Falana asked PAGE to partner with the district to develop an aspiring leaders initiative. Through several conversations with Dr. Allene Magill, the executive director of PAGE, and the PAGE professional learning team, the scope expanded to include the entire district. The focus became a transformative initiative to facilitate the capacity of all educators to design engaging lessons for students. The PAGE/Burke County Public Schools Initiative includes a years-long commitment to professional learning. Transformation of schools must be systemic, not programmatic; thus, long-term commitment is needed to establish a culture of beliefs that drives changes “bone deep” into the organization, as Magill often says. District leaders, school-based leaders and teacher leaders understand the power of their professional learning. They say the interactivity of the learning

provided by PAGE is helping them move the district forward. A five-person team of Burke County educators presented the district’s story to the PAGE Foundation Board of Trustees during its annual meeting last fall. Among the greatest outcomes thus far, they said, are vast improvements in culture and climate among the staff. The change from the first session in fall 2015 to 2016 was dramatic. At first, educators sat at separate tables by school with limited discussion. Now, cross-team conversations spread communication within school teams and across the school district. Burke County educators said they recognized a need and urgency for change, even as the district’s test scores and high school graduation rates 1 increased, because they understood that their students were not prepared for post-secondary options of college, technical school or work. Assistant Superintendent Angela Williams noted that before partnering with PAGE, Burke County began searching for ways to improve instruction, strengthen professional learning and delve into data. Survey data indicated ingrained issues with

The change from the first session in fall 2015 to 2016 was dramatic. At first, educators sat at separate tables by school with limited discussion. Now, cross-team conversations spread communication within school teams and across the school district. 24  PAGE ONE

climate and culture. Williams also recalled the importance of the guiding question for PAGE Professional Learning: “How are your students engaged?” This question continues to bring the district back to the professional leading frameworks of designing engaging student work. LaToscha Evans, director of 6-12 curriculum, noted that before Burke County educators could address designing engaging work for students, the district had to address systemic issues, including those caused by consolidating several community schools and heightened attention on standardized test scores. Those factors strained relationships among educators, students,


January/February 2017

‘The primary role of district level leaders, including staff development specialists, is to create system capacity and to help others gain access to that capacity. For example, central office personnel need to help building-level personnel become skilled in collecting and analyzing data and using data to inform action. It’s not the job of central office to direct action; it’s the job of central office to ensure that action has direction.’ — Philip Schlechty, Founder of Schlechty Center

parents and the community. Leigh Lovett, Burke Middle School teacher, noted the power in district staff working alongside teachers in support roles. Cross-functional communication among leadership has removed competition among schools and spawned a dynamic collaborative environment. Waynesboro Primary School teacher Heather Hillis provided an example of how leadership is modeling relationship building with students. She described dismissals at her school, where the superintendent


and principal are regularly on duty and the number of children that want to give and receive hugs from these two leaders. In closing, the Burke team highlighted the pillars of focus that are facilitating transformation: collaboration, trust, team building and student engagement. These pillars support the shared beliefs of High Standards, Outstanding Performance and Excellence in Student Achievement (HOPE). Burke County Schools will continue to progress, achieve HOPE and move from

BURKE COUNTY AT A GLANCE •  6 public schools with 4,400 students •  4 percent higher graduation rate than the state average •  71 percent of teachers hold graduate degrees •  100 percent of classrooms have Wi-Fi •  Georgia’s second-largest county (land area) •  Waynesboro, the bird dog capital, is the county seat

good to great because the superintendent understands that the primary role of district-level leaders is to create system capacity and support educators across all schools. n

1. (l-r) Teachers Leigh Lovett, Burke County MS, and Heather Hillis, Waynesboro PS, with Assistant Superintendent Angela Williams, Secondary Curriculum Director LaToscha Evans and Superintendent Rudy Falana. 2. Blakeney ES teachers Lynn Williams (left), Marie Murray and Tasheka Jones (far right) with Schlechty Center facilitator Annissa Roland. 3. (l-r) Burke County Academy of Success/Life Center Principal Dr. Chequita Brady and teacher Kerry Flores.

January/February 2017


Professional Learning

Leadership Academy Participants Successfully Field Test Their Knowledge By Lynn Varner, PAGE Professional Learning


ssistant Principal and Teacher Leadership Academy participants, in their second and final year in the initiative, are fine-tuning their school’s focus on student engagement. Emily Cofer, a second-grade teacher at Jerger Elementary School with Thomasville City Schools, says, “Being a part of this leadership academy has been a great experience. It has allowed me to look at myself more closely as an educator and look at myself as a professional — to see my areas for growth; to more closely examine my weaknesses; to step outside of my box as a leader and be more accepting of taking on that leadership role.” Jerger colleague Lisa Singletary, who teaches kindergarten, says the school’s initial focus is on teacher engagement. “That will ultimately lead to improving student engagement,” she adds. Skills and tools that Singletary has acquired at initiative meetings have been implemented schoolwide. Self-reflection exercises, for example, have proved worthwhile for the faculty, and awareness has ignited conversations among grade-level teachers and other small groups. Mia Lakes, a seventh-grade special education teacher at Burke County Middle School, says she now has new insight into her students. “My first ‘aha’ moment was the ‘Mental Model.’ I didn’t realize how, if we are not mindful, we can shape and form things within our mind that can cause us to act in certain ways and be oblivious to what is truly going on in our classrooms.”



Lakes and her team have excitedly shared what they have learned about engaging students with the math teachers at her school. “Now we realize that it’s not just the math teachers. Our entire staff needs to understand what an engaging classroom looks like,” Lakes says. “Our goal now is to get the entire staff excited about

what we’re bringing to the table. We will also coach them on the 10 design qualities that will bring a whole new essence to their classroom performance.” APTLA participants will attend two more sessions this year, during which teams will work on improvement projects to address their school’s specific needs. n







January/February 2017

1.  (l-r) Cory Ortwein, Jason Lyles and Assistant Principal Chance Nix, LakeviewFort Oglethorpe HS (Catoosa)

Photos by Meg Thornton 8


2.  (l-r) Chad Murray, Cartersville HS (Cartersville City); Richard Washington and Mia Lakes, Burke County MS 3.  (l-r) Felicia Lovett and Assistant Principal Jacqueline Jones, Blakeney ES (Burke) 4.  (l-r) Brittany Williams, Assistant Principal Krista Pearson and Assistant Principal Danny Redshaw, Lowndes HS (Lowndes) 5.  (l-r) Emily Cofer, Assistant Principal Emily Newman and Lisa Singletary, Jerger ES (Thomasville City) 6.  (l-r) Assistant Principal Amanda Carden and Candace Cline, Carrollton ES (Carrollton City); 7.  (l-r) Adrienne Chadwick and Melanie Harwell, Calhoun PS/ES, and Assistant Principal Jamie Garrett Calhoun HS (Calhoun City); Assistant Principal Kristin Harrison, Oconee County MS; Assistant Principal Kim Harmelink and Kelsey Lee, Oconee County HS; Jessica Trimble and Misty Dorsey, Calhoun PS/ES


8.  (Front row, l-r) Sarah Lashley and Alison Hamel, Pine Grove MS (Lowndes); LeeAnna Peebles, Hahira MS (Lowndes); (back row, l-r) Assistant Principal Samuel Clemons Jr., Pine Grove MS; Assistant Principal Matt Faircloth and Andrew Dunn, Hahira MS 9.  Assistant Principal Aetavia Williams, North Columbus ES (Muscogee)


10.  (l-r) Cassie Hudson and Augusta Bostick, Whigham ES (Grady); and Montrell McLendon, Carrollton ES (Carrollton City) 11.  Blakeney ES Assistant Principal John Frey (Burke) and Schlechty Center Senior Associate Annie Wimbish. 12.  (l-r) Felicia Lovett, Harriett Andrews and Lakesha Lane, Blakeney ES (Burke) 13.  (l-r) David Little, Krista Hall, and Amber Garlin; Rome HS (Rome City)


January/February 2017




PAGE Attorneys Throughout Georgia Stay Abreast of Education Law


ore than 40 Georgia attorneys well versed in education and employment law converged at the PAGE office in Atlanta last fall. Hailing from all over the state, the men and women form the robust PAGE Attorney Network. The lawyers were briefed on legal developments in everything from teacher evaluations to contracts to mandated reporting of child abuse. They also reviewed recent cases that have come before the State Board of Education. In the process, attendees earned continuing legal education credits. The day-long workshop allowed the education attorneys to learn from each other. “Throughout the year, the network attorneys really utilize each other’s expertise. In bringing them together, the workshop further develops those important relationships,” says PAGE General Counsel Jill Hay. The PAGE in-house legal staff includes five full-time attorneys who work closely with the statewide network. Staying abreast of legal developments is crucial because Georgia’s laws, and the interpretation of the laws, continually change in regard to education. “The staff attorneys and the network attorneys see different aspects of the law at play,” says PAGE Staff Attorney Matthew Pence. “We all benefit from sharing what we’re seeing and hearing in the practice of education law.” The PAGE legal department has an outstanding track record in defending Georgia educators, and the statewide network is


an important arm of PAGE legal services. “Attorney network members are highly trained in education law and ethics, and they know their communities well — the education system, the politics and the people,” says Hay. Workshop presenters included Griffin attorney David Dunham; Bruswick attorney Dan Lovein of Hall Booth Smith; Rome attorney King Askew of Brinson Askew Berry; Atlanta attorney Allen Lightcap of Mayer & Harper; Valdosta attorney Tina Folsom of Langdale & Vallotton; Macon attorney Brad Wilson of Adams, Hemingway & Wilson; Savannah attorney Alan Lowe of Lowe & Schoolar; and Athens attorney Daniel Woodrum of Prior, Daniel & Wiltshire. Additionally, PAGE Director of Legislative Affairs Margaret Ciccarelli gave a legislative update and staff attorney Matthew Pence reviewed legal implications of Georgia’s teacher evaluation instrument. n

January/February 2017

Photos by Meg Thornton

January/February 2017



Political Speech by Public Employees By Sean DeVetter, PAGE Staff Attorney


s employees of the local school system, educators are directly affected by the actions of the local school board. The PAGE legal department frequently responds to questions about what can and cannot be said about board actions and about when and where speech can take place. Members also ask us about sharing their political viewpoints. The everincreasing use of social media results in information being spread faster, with less effort, and often with less consideration. To determine the rules governing speech of educators, we look both to the Supreme Court and to the Georgia Code of Ethics for Educators.

the school board’s handling of a local bond issue. The teacher felt he had the right to comment; the school system felt it had the right to terminate because the teacher spoke negatively about the system and, in the school system’s opinion, interfered with the district’s ability to function. The court recognized that the state, as a public employer, had a duty as an employer to run its system efficiently but as a government agency had a duty to ensure the First Amendment rights of its employees. It also recognized that government employees have a right to free speech, more so than private employees, and also recognized that government employees have access to information about the role and function SUPREME COURT CONCERNS of government that might be useful to the The Supreme Court, through a series general citizenry. The primary challenge of cases, carved out the parameters of free to the court was, “… to arrive at a balance speech for government employees. The between the interests of the teacher, as a two main cases are Pickering v. Board of citizen, in commenting upon matters of Education (1968) and Garcetti v. Ceballos public concern and the interest of the State, (2006). as an employer, in promoting the efficiency Prior to those cases, the speech of govof the public services it performs through ernment employees was just as limited its employees.” To answer this question, as that of private employees. The general the court came up with a test that balconsensus amongst state courts was that no anced these needs against each other. The employee had a right to a government job court looked to determine if the speech in and his or her speech could be limited with question was a matter of public concern that understanding. or interest. If the speech is not a matter of Pickering v. Board of Education marked public concern, it is not protected speech. a shift in this thinking; it increased the If the speech deals with a matter of public rights of government employees to express concern, the court weighs the interests of their political views. In the Pickering case, the state employer against the interests of a teacher was terminated for submitting to the employee in his or her role as a citizen. the local paper a letter that was critical of Ceballos v. Garcetti rolled back the free speech rights granted by the Pickering court. In the 2006 Ceballos case, a district attorSocial media postings about ney wrote a memo critical of an affidavit used by police to events in your classroom, obtain a search warrant. He then school culture or your work claimed his employer retaliated responsibilities do not qualify against him for the content of his memo. He felt this retalifor free speech protection. ation was barred by the First Never use school resources Amendment. The Ceballos court answered the question of to complain publicly about whether this speech was proissues you see in your public tected by the First Amendment sector work. by looking to the role Ceballos performed when he made the 30  PAGE ONE

speech. The court determined he was instructed to write the memo as part of his job duties. In that regard, he was acting as an employee and not a public citizen, so his speech was not protected. The reshaping of the free speech rules from Ceballos requires the court to first determine if the speech in question is a matter of public or private concern. If it is a matter of private concern, it is not protected by the First Amendment. If the speech is a matter of public concern, then the court must determine if the speech was made while the employee was acting in the scope of his or her duties or acting as a private citizen. If the employee acted within the scope of his or her duties, the speech is not protected. PROPER USE OF SCHOOL PROPERTY

Standard 5 of the Georgia Code of Ethics, Public Funds and Property governs the use of school property. To avoid ethics violations, educators should refrain from using school email addresses, school computers or other school resources to share opinions as private citizens on matters of public concern. In summary, public employment does not require blind loyalty to your employer. Nor does public employment entitle employees to say whatever they wish without fear of consequences. In order for speech to be protected it must be a matter of public concern, made in your role as private citizen and not required by your employment, and must pass the court’s balancing of your interest in making comments about a public concern and the employer’s interest in maintaining and running public services. Common issues, such as educators discussing on Facebook classroom events, the culture of the school and their duties and responsibilities, do not qualify for free speech protection. At no time should you use school resources to complain publicly about issues you see in your public sector work. n January/February 2017

Professional Learning

Academic Decathlon Workshop Gives Students a Competitive Edge By Lynn Varner, PAGE Professional Learning

Photo by Lynn Varner


Dr. Catherine Lewis, associate vice president for Museums, Archives & Rare Books and a KSU professor of History and Women’s Studies, was one of three presenters who led the general session on “World War II History” during the PAGE GAD Fall Workshop.

Photo by Lynn Varner

ore than 200 decathletes and their coaches participated in the PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon Fall Workshop at Kennesaw State University. Students heard from faculty regarding this year’s curriculum: World War II. Breakout sessions focused on decathlon curriculum areas, including Speech, Interview, Essay, Art, Science, Economics, Mathematics and Super Quiz. General sessions covered this year’s novel, “Transit” by Anna Segher, and World War II history. GAD Coach Lisa Cheatham of Kendrick High School in Muscogee County says that the workshop gives her team a clear understanding of the material they need to cover. “Now they know exactly what they’re doing, what they need to do. They’re introduced to the topics, and they get more excited about it.” Muscogee County’s Hardaway High School Senior Camryn Moon adds, “The Decathlon Fall Workshop gives you a feel for how the competition works, and how the subjects are arranged. It also lets you see who you’re going up against in the competition.” Kennesaw State University is a PAGE GAD partner. n

GAD Advisory Board Holds Annual Meeting The PAGE GAD Advisory Board, which held its annual meeting in November, includes current and former decathletes, elected GAD coaches and school district coordinators, business leaders and PAGE representatives. Pictured are (floor, l-r) Buck Greene, GAD district co-coordinator, Atlanta Public Schools Office of Gifted and Talented; Dr. Ruth Cowan, GAD state director emerita; Sandra Huff, parent of GAD alumnus; Dee Rule, GAD adult volunteer coordinator, KSU; Dr. Cadence Spearman, GAD alumna and district co-coordinator, Atlanta Public Schools Office of Gifted and Talented; David Brooks, GAD alumnus, Villa Rica HS; Brendan Porter, current decathlete, Villa Rica HS; Michelle January/February 2017

Crawford, GAD assistant state director; Lisa Beck, GAD coach, Lakeview-Fort Oglethorpe HS; Cary Sell, GAD state director; (second row, l-r): Cynthia Cox, GAD coach, Villa Rica HS; Dr. Judy Henry, PAGE Leadership Initiatives; (third row, l-r): Melodie Carr, GAD coach, Parkview HS; Dustin James Hudgins, GAD alumnus, Chattahoochee County HS; (fourth row, l-r) Angad Joshi, current decathlete, Parkview HS; Jordan Billie, current decathlete, Parkview HS; Amy Hammond, GAD district coordinator, Gwinnett County Schools; and (fifth row, l-r) Carmen Kimsey Morris, GAD coach, Hardaway HS; Russell Bennett, GAD alumnus and assistant GAD coach, Villa Rica HS. PAGE ONE  31

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OFFICERS President Amy Denty President-Elect Kelli De Guire Treasurer Lamar Scott Past-President Stephanie Davis Howard Secretary Megan King DIRECTORS District 1 District 8 Oatanisha Dawson Lindsey Martin District 2 District 9 Brecca Pope Miranda Willingham District 3 District 10 Jamilya Mayo Shannon Hammond District 4 District 11 Rochelle Lofstrand Dr. Sandra Owens District 5 District 12 Nick Zomer Donna Graham District 6 District 13 Dr. Susan Mullins Dr. Hayward Cordy District 7 Lance James Ex-Officio Vickie Hammond


The articles published in PAGE One represent the views of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, except where clearly stated. Contact the editor: Craig Harper,; PAGE One, PAGE, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141-2270; 770-216-8555 or 800-334-6861. Contributions/gifts to the PAGE Foundation are deductible as charitable contributions by federal law. Costs for PAGE lobbying on behalf of members are not deductible. PAGE estimates that 7 percent of the nondeductible portion of your 2016-17 dues is allocated to lobbying. PAGE One (ISSN 1523-6188) is mailed to all PAGE members, selected higher education units and other school-related professionals. An annual subscription is included in PAGE membership dues. A subscription for others is $10 annually. Periodicals class nonprofit postage paid at Atlanta, GA, and additional mailing offices. (USPS 017-347) Postmaster: Send address changes to PAGE One, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141–2270. PAGE One is published five times a year (January, March, May, August and October) by New South Publishing Inc., 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA 30350; 770-650-1102. Copyright ©2017.

January/February 2017



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