PAGE One Magazine, Oct.-Nov. 2014

Page 1

October/November 2014

Election 2014:

CandidateonPositions Education

Nathan Deal

Jason Carter


Richard Woods

Valarie Wilson


Educators: YOU Can Decide Georgia’s Future

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October/November 2014

Vol. 36 No. 2



07 Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education • • • •

Candidate Positions at a Glance Candidate Responses to PAGE Questions PAGE Foundation Candidate Forum 2014 Mock Election: Ignite Your Students’ Interest in Voting



4 From the President The Future of Education in Georgia is Up to Us

Professional Learning 22 One School’s Transformational Journey: Viewing Students as Customers Changes Everything

5 From the Executive Director The Election is Nearing. Choose Wisely and Vote!

24 Accomplished Educators McCown and Garrett Join PAGE Staff News and Information 24 2014–15 PAGE Planner 25 Membership Services Representatives Help You Tap the Vast Resources of PAGE


Legal 26 TKES: Teachers Must Strive for ‘Exemplary’ or ‘Proficient’ Foundation News 27 ‘A PAGE Turning Event’ Honors Wells Fargo and Mike Donnelly 28 PAGE Foundation Board of Trustees Focuses on School Transformation 29 Ask Friends to Support YOU on Nov. 13

30 Georgia Teacher of the Year Was Nurtured as a Student 32 Decatur County PAGE Volunteers Laud Honor Graduates 32 Audit of PAGE SelfInsurance Programs

PAGE ONE magazine 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. October/November 2014




Editor Tim Callahan

President Larry Lebovitz

Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta

Associate Editor Meg Thornton

Publisher John Hanna

Production Coordinator Amber Mosler

Contributing Editor Lynn Varner

Editor Lindsay Field

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

Associate Editor Jacqui Frasca


From The President

The Future of Education in Georgia is Up to Us Leslie Mills


s the school year began, Georgia teachers once again seized the opportunity to profoundly impact the lives of their

students. Educators analyzed last year’s data, prepared researchedbased learning strategies, efficiently arranged their classrooms and set procedures in place to facilitate the best possible outcomes. And although fall is upon us, Georgia teachers remain rejuvenated and charged with a fresh sense of purpose.

Statistics show that educators could be one of the largest voting blocks in Georgia, but many choose not to vote. Every vote for education is an important vote.


Still, lurking unknowns trouble educators. What will happen as a result of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards review? What will the Georgia Milestones Assessment be like? What will happen to funding for public education? Will class size continue to rise? Will I ever receive another raise? I hear these questions continuously from educators throughout the state. The outlook of education in Georgia can be best captured by the words of Esther Baldwin York: “It depends on us … Another year lies before us like an unwritten page, an unspent coin, an unwalked road. … what treasures will be gained in exchange for time, or what we find along the way, will largely depend on us.” This year, especially, what happens will largely depend on us because this is an election year. The fate of public education in Georgia is in our hands. It is up to us to determine the future of students

and educators in Georgia. Beyond being knowledgeable, we must also be active. We must tell the story of what is happening in our schools, and we must stay in contact with our legislators, because they create the laws that impact our classrooms. It is not enough that we have prepared our classrooms for the school year, that we have high expectations for a great year and that our students are ready to learn, we must help write the pages and find the treasures. We, as educators, can make a difference in Georgia if we will learn about the candidates, then get out and vote in favor of education. Statistics show that while educators could be one of the largest voting blocks in Georgia, many educators choose not to vote. Every vote for education is an important vote. Yes, the future of education in Georgia is in our hands; I challenge YOU to learn about the candidates, then get out and vote! Q

October/November 2014

From The Executive Director

The Election is Nearing. Choose Wisely and Vote!


he Nov. 4 general election is critically important to education

Dr. Allene Magill

because we will choose a new state school superintendent and

governor. This issue of PAGE One is heavily devoted to that topic. There is no greater responsibility for educators than voting. It is not just a civic responsibility; it is a professional obligation, and one that will affect your job, your students, your school and even your entire career. If the past decade has taught us anything, it is that educators must not brush aside their civic and professional obligation to vote. To our sorrow, we know that we can no longer depend on automatic support from governors and legislators. We must hold them accountable for their support of public schools. Our votes count. PAGE has been strongly urging educators to become more knowledgeable about and more active in the political process. We work hard throughout each legislative session in support of teachers, students and schools; but we must work with the officeholders who are elected. Voters, during the past decade, have seen fit to elect state legislators and governors who look beyond the public schools for solutions to educating Georgia’s children. It does not seem to have dawned on many of these policymakers that the vast majority of our students (about 94 percent) are in our public schools. Yet the voters—and the non-voters— have rewarded them with virtually automatic returns to office. This process needs to stop. It needs to be replaced with

October/November 2014

a thoughtful and informed process by which educators take the lead in learning about, supporting and staying in communication with a new generation of policymakers who support our public schools. To that end, our cover story (which we encourage you to share widely) features a grid briefly outlining where the candidates stand on key issues. We also include candidate responses to questions posed by PAGE, as well as a report on the candidate forum held by the PAGE Foundation in September. You also have access via the PAGE website to the video of this forum. As I travel the state, I continuously hear concerns about the status and direction of public education in Georgia. The budget cuts, dramatic increase in students of poverty, continuing federal mandates and growing anger about over-testing and the over-interpretation of test results are all combining to bring things to a fever pitch in system after system. We can begin to do something about this, and that time is now. I urge you to inform yourself and as many others as possible before you vote in this election. Take our magazine along if you need reminders of where candidates are on the issues that matter most to you and your students. And by all means VOTE! Q

Voters during the past decade have seen fit to elect state legislators and governors who look beyond the public schools for solutions to educating Georgia’s children. It does not seem to have dawned on many of these policymakers that the vast majority of our students (about 94 percent) are in our public schools.






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Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education


eginning in mid October, Georgia residents will vote for the state’s next governor and school superintendent. As an educator, casting your vote is essential. “No election year in Georgia has ever been more important than 2014 when it comes to public education,” states PAGE Executive Director Dr. Allene Magill. In counties throughout Georgia, you can vote early from mid to late October. Just visit the Georgia secretary of state website (search “early voting Georgia”) for a list of locations. Then mark your calendar and vote. If you miss voting early, go to the polls on Nov. 4. To help you make thoughtful decisions, the following pages present simple grids highlighting candidate stances on key education issues. We also report on the PAGE candidate forum and present a Q&A with participating gubernatorial and superintendent candidates.

October/November 2014


Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education

Governor’s Race

Candidate Positions at a Glance This information was gleaned from interviews with the 2014 Georgia gubernatorial candidates. Sources are listed below.

Nathan Deal

Jason Carter

Charter Schools

Asked legislators to study creating a state-wide charter school district to take over failing schools 1

Supports 2

State Charter Commission Amendment

As Governor, signed HR 1162, the legislation creating the charter school amendment, on May 3, 2012

As State Senator, voted no on HR 1162

Common Core (CC)

Has not declared support for or opposition to CC. Ordered the State Board of Ed to review CC, and that review is ongoing

Has not declared support for or opposition to CC. Says that constantly changing standards is problematic for teachers 3

School Funding

Supports recalculating the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula to increase education funding without requiring huge investments 4

Supports creation of a separate education budget and significantly increasing education funding by cutting other wasteful state spending 5

Standardized Testing

Believes assessing student performance is a critical need to ensure student success in global workforce 6

Supports diagnostic testing. Opposes linking educator pay to test scores

Race to the Top (RT3)

Originally opposed RT3 prior to Georgia’s receipt of the grant. Later switched his position to support the initiative 7

Teacher Keys Evaluation System (TKES)

Supports higher accountability embedded in TKES as long as support is offered to teachers to meet higher accountability standards. Signed HB 244, legislation placing the new evaluation system in Georgia code, on May 7, 2013 8

Supports an evaluation system that is not used solely as a punitive tool, but as a mechanism for providing educators with constructive criticism. Voted yes on HB 244


Supports vouchers as long as they do not undermine public school funding and recipients of vouchers are held accountable 9

Opposes vouchers and tax credits 10

National Board Certification

Did not include funding in the 2014 budget 11

Supports 12

1 2 3 4 ng3pk/#d4708d47.257099.735463 8 PAGE ONE

5 PAGE Questionnaire



9 PAGE One Magazine September/October 2010

communications/Pages/PressReleaseDetails. aspx?PressView=default&pid=123 7 with-our-400-million-race-to-the-top-grantnathan-deal-comes-full-circle-now-the-grant-is-avictory-for-georgia/

10 11 certified-ga-teachers-feel-slighted-by-budget/ 12

October/November 2014

The Governor’s Race Candidate Responses to PAGE Questions about Important Education Issues


n Nov. 4, Georgia voters will choose a governor. The decision will deeply impact Georgia schools, which continue to struggle with state budget cuts and the implementation of ambitious new state and federal initiatives. As an independent, nonunion, professional association, PAGE does not endorse political candidates. However, we believe it imperative that our nearly 85,000 members hear from candidates regarding their positions on key education issues. Georgia’s current governor, Nathan Deal, a Republican, declined to respond to questions posed by PAGE, despite repeated contacts to his office and deadline extensions. The responses of gubernatorial candidate Jason Carter, a Democrat and state senator representing DeKalb County, are presented below.

Should educators receive compensation on the state salary schedule for their advanced degrees? Should educator pay be linked to student standardized test scores? CARTER: We have to use every tool in our arsenal to get qualified teachers in the classroom and to encourage teaching as a lifelong profession. Teachers have gone without base salary costof-living increases for five years, roughly 80 percent of school districts furloughed teachers in the 2013–2014 school year, and the majority of districts have slashed funding for professional development. The chronic underfunding of public education in our state has hit teachers particularly hard. Our focus has to be on providing appropriate incentives to recruit and retain the best possible teaching workforce for our kids. As governor, I will restore funding for bonuses for the nearly 2,600 teachers who have gone above and beyond for our kids and our classrooms by completing the rigorous requirements to hold a certification from

October/November 2014

the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. They were promised a bonus for the life of their certificate, and beginning in 2009, the state went back on its promise. The results of defunding the bonus have been devastating. In 2013, only one Georgia teacher was nationally certified, and Georgia was tied for dead last nationwide in the number of newly certified teachers. I would also reinstate the pay differential for training and experience for Pre-K teachers and reinstate the HOPE Scholarship programs for teachers that were eliminated in 2011. These programs offer forgivable loans to incentivize college students, recent graduates and paraprofessionals to pursue teaching as their career. With respect to linking educator pay to test scores, the increased emphasis on standardized test scores isn’t good for students, educators or families. Tests have to first be diagnostic tools that ultimately help students learn. I am not opposed to having a meaningful evaluation system for teachers that is linked to pay—in fact, I believe that assessment is a

Jason Carter


Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education

critical part of both teaching and learning. But it is only one part. Our evaluation system must treat educators like the professionals that they are and must not be used solely as a punitive tool, but as a mechanism for giving constructive feedback as a part of an ongoing process of evaluation, growth and improvement that benefits our teachers and positively impacts our kids’ educations. How will you add more educator input in decisions related to governance of the State Health Benefit Plan, Georgia’s public employee health insurance program? CARTER: The most important thing that we can do to improve educational outcomes is to truly support our teacher workforce—that means mechanisms to recruit and retain teachers to become excellent teachers for the life of their career. The current administration’s poor treatment of teachers, as evidenced by the massive changes to the State Health Benefit Plan made without any input from educators, undermines our state’s ability to recruit and retain the teachers we want and hurts the morale of the teachers we have. That lack of leadership is holding our entire educational system back. Educators must be afforded a stronger voice in decision making to improve public education in our state. My wife and I are on the State Health Benefit Plan, so I understand the changes many teachers faced. I was proud to support legislation in the Georgia Senate to require that a beneficiary of the State Health Benefit Plan be added to the state board that oversees it. As governor, I will utilize an Education Advisory Council, which is comprised of the educators, officials and advocates who are in our schools and classrooms every day, to give meaningful input on policy, working conditions and the culture of public education in our state before decisions are made. That input will help us avoid unnecessary and complicated changes with respect to policy, benefits and other issues impacting the profession, as well as provide me with feedback from those who really understand what is happening on the ground with respect to our education system. 10 PAGE ONE

What is your position on Georgia’s use of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards? CARTER: In the time that I have served in the state legislature, substantive debate on education policy has been supplanted by partisan posturing on curriculum, testing and certification. This past year, I voted against abandoning Common Core because our state has been creating education policy by sound bite instead of creating sound policy. The focus has to be on having an honest, non-politicized conversation about how we can work together to move our education system forward. The real issue is the complete lack of vision at the state level with respect to education. Lack of vision has prevented us from allowing education standards to actually succeed or fail on their merits and keeps us lurching from one “shiny object” to the next with no real sense of how we move forward. For example, I have had constituents report that their high school children have been taught under three or four different math curricula since kindergarten. Children in the same family will graduate under different standards. The constant change isn’t fair to students, it isn’t fair to teachers, and it isn’t fair to parents. Every change in teaching standards costs our state money and requires additional training and professional development for our teachers to learn the curriculum. But we’ve dramatically reduced the resources available for professional development at the state level. We are asking teachers to do more than ever, but we aren’t giving them the resources they need to succeed. The lack of vision is bad for students, it is bad for educators, and ultimately it is bad for our state. As governor, how would you improve student outcomes and public education in Georgia? CARTER: As governor, my first priority will always be education. Education is economic development. It creates opportunity, it attracts businesses to our state and it prepares our students for the best jobs.

First, we have to end the shell game that has plagued education funding for too long. As governor, I will propose a separate education budget—a trust fund that will keep the politicians in Atlanta from raiding the education fund to pay for other things. Second, we have to end the visionless leadership that has forced our schools to confront change after change, year after year. I believe we must have a longterm, coherent focus on the crucial factor that drives educational success: our teacher workforce. I’ll focus every day on recruiting, retaining and supporting the best possible teachers for our students. My wife Kate is a public school teacher, and I know our teachers are tired of being treated like they’re the only problem instead of part of the solution. Finally, we will restore the promise of HOPE by making sure we maximize the number of students who can afford college and technical school. That’s an investment that will pay off for those students and for the entire state as we reap the benefits of a highly skilled workforce. Do you think that the State of Georgia adequately funds public education? If elected, how would you reform Quality Basic Education? CARTER: The single biggest failure of Georgia’s current leadership—and the biggest drain on our economy—is the dismantling of our education system. Nowhere is that more clear than in the massive disinvestment we have seen in education funding. On average, Gov. Deal has underfunded K–12 education by more than $1 billion per year since taking office. In this election year, he made his first attempt at closing Georgia’s education funding gap, but still missed the target by threequarters of a billion dollars. The result? More than two-thirds of Georgia school districts have not taught the standard 180-day school year since Gov. Deal took office, with some districts cutting 30 or more instructional days. Since 2009, we have lost more than 9,000 classroom teachers and more than 95 percent of Georgia school districts have had to increase class sizes. October/November 2014

I support revising QBE, but that cannot be used as an excuse for shortchanging our education system. We have to commit to funding education at an appropriate level. Period. In order to address whether or not the funding formula should be revised, we have to first end the shell game and have an honest and transparent discussion about what resources our schools need. I’ve proposed a separate education budget—essentially a trust fund for education that will keep the politicians from raiding it to pay for other things. A separate education fund will make our investment in education the state’s top priority every year. What is your position on potential Teachers Retirement System (TRS) transformations, such as conversion from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan and allowing TRS to be invested in venture capital? CARTER: Great educators certainly don’t come to this profession of public service with an expectation of high salaries; but there has historically been a culture and tradition of offering a strong package of benefits for educators as an incentive for great teachers to remain in teaching for the life of their career. As governor, I will commit to making sure that the state upholds its end of the bargain with respect to teachers’ benefits. Certainly, we must always be good stewards of state resources and responsive to economic trends, but any legislative consideration involving shifting TRS from a defined benefit to a defined contribution plan must give educators a meaningful voice in those conversations. And again, the focus must be on providing the appropriate incentives to recruit and retain the best possible teaching workforce for our kids. I am not opposed to allowing TRS to be invested in a variety of investments so long as we have appropriate controls to ensure that the state can manage the risk. What is your position on school vouchers? Will you seek to expand Georgia’s tuition tax credit program? Do you agree that private schools and student scholarship organizations receiving funding October/November 2014

under Georgia’s voucher and tuition tax credit programs should be subject to the same fiscal transparency and academic accountability measures as public schools? CARTER: The Georgia Constitution requires that “the provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.” It is critical that we devote our education dollars to improving public education statewide so that students receive the very best education possible. In 2013, I co-sponsored Senate Bill 243 to tighten the eligibility and accountability standards and cap the disbursements of the existing tax credit for private school students, and Senate Bill 77 to require that information about the private schools and eligible students receiving the tax assistance would be subject to open records law. State leaders have historically underfunded Georgia’s QBE funding formula, our state’s public school funding mechanism. The current fiscal year budget underfunds QBE by approximately $746 million, forcing schools to increase class sizes, decrease the length of the school year and cut staff and student programs. As governor, what will you do to decrease class sizes, restore the school year and end painful cuts? How will you pay for these priorities? CARTER: We must first end the shell game that has plagued education funding at the state level for far too long. As governor, I will propose a separate education budget—essentially a trust fund for education that will keep the politicians in Atlanta from raiding the education fund to pay for other things. Every year, the legislature would be forced to consider the state budget in two parts. The first part would be our budget for education. Once the education budget has been approved, we move on to funding the rest of government. Each year, the budget would be balanced as is currently required. I will also require that the Georgia Department of Education and Governor’s Office of Budget and Planning calculate and publish widely,

no later than the first day of the legislative session, information regarding the amount of state funds that will be provided to each school district statewide compared to the amounts provided in the previous three fiscal years. Taking these steps will increase transparency in the process, create political accountability for funding education at the state capitol and begin the process of restoring trust with educators, school leaders and families statewide. We have to make education funding our state’s priority. To achieve savings throughout the rest of the state budget, I propose reining in waste in state government and fixing the inefficiencies that plague our state government, growing our state’s economy and collecting the money we’re owed from would-be tax cheats. I have supported legislative measures time and again to increase accountability in the way we spend our state dollars through implementing zerobased budgeting, periodic review of state agencies to determine their effectiveness, efficiency and need. It has been decades since we’ve conducted a top-to-bottom review of state government to be sure the programs we have are doing what they are intended to do in the most efficient and effective way possible. I pledge to start that review on day one as governor. The best thing for our state economy is a middle class with money in their pockets to spend in our state. We have to focus on getting families back to work and boosting our recovery. State revenues are now above pre-recession levels, yet still are $3.6 billion below 2007 levels on a per-capita, inflation-adjusted basis. Finally, according to the Department of Audits January 2014 report, we have an outstanding tax balance of $2.5 billion. That is money that is owed the state and is collectible today. Q


Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education

PAGE Foundation Candidate Forum:

Deal and Carter Voice Sharp Differences


n their first face-off of the election season, Gov. Nathan Deal and State Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur) expressed sharp differences in their approaches to improving K-12 education in Georgia. The two gubernatorial candidates squared off at a candidate forum hosted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators on Sept. 15. Deal says that the recession hit Georgia harder than “virtually any other state,” and that his work to create jobs by such measures as reducing manufacturing taxes has

enabled increased education spending. Carter says that Deal presided over the state’s “worst contraction” to education funding, resulting in larger classes, reduced school days, teacher furloughs and the need for counties to raise local property taxes. “Every educator that I know and most of the parents I know would be shocked to hear that they have been spared cuts,” says Carter, who plans to create a separate education budget. “You’re going to have to cut something of what we spend money on now, or

you’re going to have to have a new revenue source,” Deal says. “Money alone is not the solution to all the problems in education.” The two also sparred over Deal’s push to study charter school expansion. Carter says that he supports the charters’ ability to innovate, but that “We’ve become distracted by charter schools.” “We owe it to the children in the state” to consider such ideas, says Deal. “If you’ve got better ideas,” he told the audience, “my ears are going to be open.” Q

View candidate responses to education forum questions at


October/November 2014



4 1. Jason Carter (left) and Nathan Deal (right) square off at the PAGE candidate forum moderated by Charles Richardson, editorial page editor for The Telegraph (Macon) and a PAGE Foundation trustee. 2. Georgia Power’s Henry Kelly, a PAGE Foundation trustee, poses a question to the candidates. 3. State Sen. Jason Carter 4. Gov. Nathan Deal 5. High school teacher Kate Carter (foreground), wife of Jason Carter.

1 October/November 2014


Photos by Robert Matta PAGE ONE 13

Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education

State School Superintendent Candidate Positions at a Glance

This chart was developed from comments made by the candidates at the Aug. 19 Critical Issues Forum held by the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, as well as from candidate answers to the PAGE questionnaire on following pages.

Richard Woods

Valarie Wilson

Charter Schools


Supports public charter schools, but opposes for-profit charter schools and privatization of public schools

Common Core (CC)

Opposed implementation of CC standards. Now that GA has adopted the standards, thinks teachers should have input


Standardized Testing

Proposes a moratorium of Georgia Milestones, claiming it is not a diagnostic testing method

Believes current testing forces teachers to train students to pass tests rather than encouraging classroom innovation

Race to the Top (RT3)

Concerned that taxpayers and local school systems will be on the hook for the long-term costs of sustaining RT3 reforms once one-time grant money expires

Supports federal initiatives as long as initiatives address equity and support; encourage state-led education improvements; and foster quality research and best practices

Teacher Keys Evaluation System (TKES)

Concerned about linking test scores with teacher evaluations

Concerned about linking student achievement with teacher compensation. Supports the teacher effectiveness evaluation system, but sees room for improvement


Believes Georgia’s primary obligation is to provide a quality public education for children, with a priority to fully fund public schools. Other options can be explored once this commitment is met

Opposes vouchers and tax credits


October/November 2014

The Race for State School Superintendent Candidates Weigh in on Critical Education Issues


arlier this year, a crowded field of candidates for state school superintendent was narrowed down to Democratic nominee Valarie Wilson and Republican nominee Richard Woods. Voters will decide on Nov. 4 who will replace outgoing State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. PAGE, an independent, nonunion, professional association of nearly 85,000 Georgia educators, does not endorse political candidates. However, we solicit candidate views on important education issues. Below (in alphabetical order by name), Wilson, a former City Schools of Decatur school board member, and Richard Woods, a former Georgia educator and school administrator, respond to questions posed by PAGE.

Do you support Georgia’s current use of mandated standardized tests? Should student test scores be used to evaluate educator performance? Please state your position on Georgia’s new statewide educator evaluation program. WILSON: No, I am concerned that Georgia’s use of current mandated standardized tests are harmful not only to our students, but also to our educators. I believe that these tests stifle the teaching and learning process, creating an environment that forces educators to teach to the test and does not encourage students to tap into critical thinking and problem-solving skills. While I believe a student’s performance should be a factor in the evaluation process, I am greatly concerned that a large percentage of the current teacher evaluation tool is too heavily weighted on this one factor and will not give an accurate assessment of the educator’s work and performance. As the next state school superintendent, I will closely monitor the evaluation program and engage a panel of educators, administrators and parents to review and make recommendations to update the program. October/November 2014

WOODS: Recently, I called for a twoyear moratorium on the use of test scores for teacher evaluation calculations in order to conduct a top-down review of the new testing and evaluation components. Since then, we have already begun to see positive steps from U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and the State Board of Education. I agree that changes need to be made in the way we evaluate our teachers and educational leaders, but I feel that the TKES/ LKES model is continuing us down the wrong path. I have not seen the type of paradigm shift that is needed with our testing system (one that is diagnostic) to make the new teacher evaluation model effective. Even with the new Milestones, the assessment will still be given at the end of the year— too late to make course corrections in instruction, or to be used as an instrument to measure real growth. Though “growth” has been a popular buzzword, the plan under TKES is to use the score from one end-of-the-year exam to project what a student should make on their next end-of-the-year exam. I have concerns about the validity/reliability of this. As a former high school teacher, I also see

Valarie Wilson

Richard Woods


Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education pitfalls with student scores from more general middle school subjects being used to predict the scores of vastly more specific high school subjects. The TKES model doesn’t take into account a teacher’s class size or number of preps. Local support and resources differ greatly from district to district—a fact that is also missing from the TKES calculation. Overall, I feel there is an overemphasis on test scores and the unnecessary amount of paperwork/data collecting that is being placed on our teachers. As a school administrator, I understand the negative impact of placing additional time requirements on our state’s administrators. Some systems are being forced to hire full-time evaluators, which results in another unfunded mandate. We must have an accountability system that treats our teachers as professionals. Any accountability measures that are utilized must be centered on the clarity and validity of data that is collected so that parent- and teacher-driven school improvement can be effectively pursued. If elected, how would you seek to improve student outcomes and public education in Georgia? WILSON: If elected, I will focus on three priorities that will improve student outcomes and public education in Georgia. Teachers are the most important factor in the school environment for a student’s success and these priorities will enhance their work and directly impact their ability to do their jobs. First, I will work to not only restore the $7 billion that has been lost to public education over the past 10 years, but I will also work to bring the budget current with today’s cost of doing business. This is especially important because it will allow us to alleviate furloughs, decrease class sizes, return to a full calendar year, fully fund professional development, provide critical support staff such as counselors and school psychologist and reinstate additional key programming for students. Second, I will work to oppose any measures that move funding away from public education, creating additional barriers for the 1.6 million students who attend public schools in Georgia. Each 16 PAGE ONE

year the state of Georgia diverts more than $1 billion to private schools and charters through vouchers and tax credits with little to no oversight. Finally, I will work to empower teachers by including their voices in the development of the policies and programs for Georgia’s public education system by bringing them to the table as real partners. I’ll also bring parents and guardians to the table in a substantive manner that allows and encourages them to be involved in the process of educating their children. It will take a true collaboration between educators, parents, students and community stakeholders to move our public education system forward. WOODS: In order to improve student outcomes, we must ensure that we are effectively measuring outcomes. A diagnostic approach to standardized testing would move us away from a punitive testing model and put in place a tool that would provide real feedback to students, parents and teachers. This model would increase parental involvement, personalize education and enhance instruction. With the Pre-K through 12th-grade experience that I bring to this position, I can see the larger picture. In the early grades, we must focus on the basics and ensure that our students develop a solid foundation for their academic success. On the high school level, we must provide multiple paths to graduation, coupled with a more flexible curriculum—for example, counting a journalism course as English credit or accounting course as math credit. This would increase relevance and expand opportunities for our students to succeed. I am committed to working with other state agencies and nonprofits to strengthen partnerships between our K–12 education system and local business and colleges and universities. What is your position on school vouchers? Do you support Georgia’s tuition tax credit program? Should private schools and student scholarship organizations receiving funding under Georgia’s voucher and tuition tax credit programs be subject to the same fiscal transparency and academic accountability measures as public schools?

WILSON: I do not support school vouchers or Georgia’s tuition tax credit program. These programs move muchneeded funding away from the public education system, which serves more than 95 percent of the state’s children. Additionally, there is no accountability for these programs and no evidence that they have brought about the outcomes projected. To date, Georgia has diverted more than $75 million to the tax credit program with no transparency or oversight. These organizations should be subject to the same accountability measures as public schools. WOODS: Though I believe that parents have a right to home school their children or allow them to attend a private school, Georgia’s Constitution is clear that the primary obligation of the state is to provide a quality public education for our children. Our first priority should be to fully fund our public schools. Other options can be explored once that commitment is met. I have been consistent in raising caution about private entities accepting public money and have made protecting the autonomy and independence of private and homeschooling a central plank of my campaign platform. Accepting these monies could potentially mean accepting the government mandates that go with them—testing, admission, transportation requirements, etc. As state school superintendent, I will focus on maximizing opportunities for our students within the public education system. Do you support allowing recently incorporated metro Atlanta cities to create their own school districts? WILSON: I do not. Expanding the number of school districts will erode the operating budgets of existing school systems and create additional funding requirements for a state budget that cannot support the existing systems. WOODS: One of the major factors contributing to the success of any school system is the level of involvement and cohesion of October/November 2014

the community it serves. Any decision to create additional school districts should not be taken lightly. We must ensure that the integrity of the process and community participation is protected. Common sense guidelines must catch up with the idea in order to ensure that students and communities are not left behind or left out. As we continue to see state policies that support school-level decision making, we must work to ensure that these policies enshrine the input and feedback of parents and teachers. I believe that as parents and educators are empowered to turn their schools intro true “community schools,” the efforts to create separate systems will ease. Ultimately, my main focus will be to ensure that every school district in our state is a high-performing school district. Do you think that the State of Georgia adequately funds public education? If elected, how would you work to reform QBE?

WILSON: I do not. The QBE formula was developed more than 25 years ago and was never adequately funded from the beginning. It does not meet the needs of our systems and does not accurately reflect today’s cost for educating a student. If elected, I will bring together a group of teachers, administrators and parents to develop and recommend a funding formula that meets the diverse needs of urban and rural districts. WOODS: The state’s primary responsibility to provide adequate funding for our schools is enshrined in Georgia’s Constitution. Our state’s future depends on the quality of the education that is provided to our children and grandchildren. As a state, we must continue to focus our efforts on attracting and retaining quality teachers, providing them with resources and professional development and giving them the freedom to teach in an environment conducive to learning.

Though well-intended, the Quality Basic Education funding formula needs to be updated. One big strength with QBE is its recognition that students have different needs and challenges. However, the cumbersome and bureaucratic nature of the current funding formula has created needless confusion among school districts, policymakers and the general public. I support streamlining the funding formula while protecting the integrity of the constitutional commitment to adequately fund a quality education for every child. With 47 percent of staff positions at the Georgia Department of Education being funded by the federal government, what is the appropriate role of the federal government in Georgia public education? What is your position on Georgia’s use of the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards? WILSON: While education is primarily a state function, the federal government has

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Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education an interest and responsibility to educate all children and support school improvement for states. Additionally, many states rely on federal involvement to support initiatives that address equity, support and encourage state-led education improvements and foster quality research and best practices. This is especially important for Georgia because the federal government provides more than $1 billion to the Georgia Department of Education for K–12 programs and helps us address the varied needs of the more than 25 percent of students who live in poverty in this state. I support Georgia’s use of Common Core Georgia Performance Standards because it provides a roadmap to success for our teachers and students. Georgia has already implemented similar standards, and this is an enhancement of those standards. My concern, however, is that we have appropriate professional development for implementation, strong curriculum developed in partnership with professionals in the districts, an appropriate assessment tool and an evaluation system that accurately reflects the work that students and teachers are doing. WOODS: I have vowed to conduct a complete financial and personnel audit of the Georgia Department of Education in order to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the department. The primary role of the DOE will be to serve local schools. I believe in the local control of public education and that the best decisions are made by those of who are closest to our children—our teachers, parents and local communities. The federal government’s role should be to support those local decisions, not make them. What we have witnessed with No Child Left Behind, and now with Race to the Top, is that the federal government is micromanaging local decision making. In 2010, I raised concerns about the Common Core Performance Standards and other reforms that were a part of accepting Race to the Top federal funding. My biggest concern was Georgia taxpayers and local school systems being on the hook for the long-term costs of sustaining these reforms once the one-time grant money ran out. 18 PAGE ONE

I knew that arbitrary deadlines for implementation and over-prescribed requirements—i.e. 50 percent of a teacher’s evaluation be linked to test scores—would cause harm to our educational system with Georgia’s students paying the price. Even my opponent has softened her full support of Common Core and other Race to the Top initiatives by promising a review of the standards and other policies. The word “review” is just another word for being willing to make necessary changes—a position that I have held since the onset. In contrast, I bring a proactive approach to these issues. My educational experience makes me cautious to the possible pitfalls of these and other reforms without the see-as-we-go mentality of my opponent. Since 2010, I have been articulating the need for a diagnostic approach to standardized testing, a fair method for evaluating teachers and standards that are developed with the input and feedback of Georgia teachers and parents. With so many complex and intertwined issues facing education within our nation and state, it is clear that classroom experience and wisdom are critical for the state school superintendent position. The people of Georgia need and deserve a state superintendent who has the frame of reference for policy decisions and one who does not need a crash course in classroom experience. If elected, how would you work with the legislature and governor to increase public school funding? How would you prioritize restoring a full school year, decreasing class sizes and ending other painful student and staff cuts? WILSON: If elected, I will enlist the support of education organizations, school districts and parents to inform the legislature and governor regarding the funding needs of Georgia’s public education system. I will work with teachers, administrators, parents and key stakeholders to develop and recommend an updated funding formula for their consideration. My priority is restoring and fully funding public education after years of cuts that have devastated systems throughout the state.

WOODS: My background in education and personal experiences in a rural school district would be effective tools in working with the legislature and the Governor on the funding issue. I have received numerous endorsements from state senators and representatives from all corners of the state. I plan to leverage these relationships and others formed by my extensive campaign by organizing community listening sessions throughout the state. I believe that inviting local legislative delegations to participate in these forums and allowing parents, teachers and other community members to voice their concerns and ideas as it relates to education will prove to be highly effective in creating positive change for our teachers and students. As one who has worked as a teacher and administrator, I understand the importance of ensuring that our schools are providing a full 180 days of instruction and that class sizes are as small as possible. Additional funding must be targeted to the classroom, where our teachers teach, students learn and education takes place. Even though the legislature and governor control state funding levels for public education, I plan to create a voluntary purchasing consortium that would allow school districts to pool purchasing power and lower costs. Approaching vendors as a large consortium would save districts money on purchases like buses, textbooks and technology. Looking at methods to reduce the paperwork and data collecting demands that are being placed on our teachers must also be a priority. This would free our teachers up to do what they do best— teach. At the onset of this campaign, I made a pledge to Georgia teachers and have focused on providing a solutions-based plan that supports the profession and our students. I am the only candidate with classroom experience. I am the only candidate providing a detailed plan of action to address the concerns of teachers. To all of my fellow educators, I deeply appreciate your dedication and service to public education. Without you, we could not have weathered the challenges and changes that we have faced over the years. I look forward to serving you and Georgia as our next State Superintendent of Schools. Q October/November 2014

PAGE Foundation Candidate Forum:

Wilson and Woods Differ on Common Core, Agree on Over-Testing


tate school superintendent candidates Richard Woods and Valarie Wilson, in addressing PAGE members on Sept. 15, voiced differing views on the common core standards, but both say testing is excessive. Woods opposes the implementation of the common core standards, saying they overlap with the Georgia Performance Standards. Wilson supports them, but says that educators need more support in implementation. Teachers generally are eager to use them, she says, but “what they are saying is, ‘Please allow us the opportunity to be successful with these standards.’” Wilson also wants the state to hold off this year on the toughened teacher-evaluation measures so that teachers can get a firm handle on student testing mandated by common core. Woods has called for a two-year moratorium on some of the teacher evaluation tests. “We must personalize, not standardize, our children’s education,” he adds. “When you try to attach teacher evaluations to one end-of-year test, you are not looking at their class size” or student attributes, he says. Q

Oct. 30, 2014 | 10:15 AM

Richard Woods

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Tom Grosscup for New Orleans Opera


Valarie Wilson

Schoolhouse Rock Jan. 29, 2015 10:15 AM & Noon

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creating the future through arts education


Peking Acrobats March 12, 2015 10:15 AM & Noon

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Share these field trip programs with your PTA or school leadership | 770-916-2805 | education#cobbenerg\ October/November 2014


Election 2014: Candidate Positions on Education

2014 Mock Election:

Ignite Your Students’ Interest in Voting


n Thursday, Oct. 30, before the rest of the nation goes to the polls, students and parents in Georgia and across the nation will cast their votes in the 2014 National Student/Parent Mock Election (NSPME). The non-partisan program provides young Americans with a voice in the electoral process. “In the classrooms of today are our future presidents, members of Congress, governors and judges— but most importantly, these young people are the voters of tomorrow,” says NSPME President Gloria Kirshner. “Through participation in the mock election, [students] learn many valuable lessons, foremost of which is what they can hope to contribute to our


democracy by voting.” Educating students about the importance of each person’s vote combats the sense of powerlessness that discourages many Americans from voting. PAGE encourages all educators, from classroom teachers to administrators, to participate in this year’s mock election. AUTHENTIC PROJECT-BASED LEARNING

To help educators implement curriculum covering the electoral process, the NSPME website provides easy-to-use tools that encourage deep learning. Teachers can deliver complete units, present individual lessons or just offer students the opportunity to vote in the mock election. “The mock election takes young people out of the classroom and into the real world; it is project-based learning in its most authentic form,” says Steve Mashburn, the NSPME Georgia coordinator. “What could be more important to our country than developing active participation in our democratic process?” The Georgia connection to the event runs deep. Former U.S. President and Georgia resident Jimmy Carter is the honorary chair of the National Mock Election, and he has supported the program since 1980, the year in which he first ran for president. Since then, more than 50 million students and parents have participated in the event. NSPME receives support from more than 60 organizations, including the National Parent Teacher Association, National School Boards Association, National Council for the Social Studies, American Association of School Administrators, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, Kaplan Foundation and USA Today. For more information, contact Mashburn at or visit the NSPME website at Q

October/November 2014

Georgia Educators:

The Time to Vote is ... Now! In Georgia counties, early voting is mid through late October. The General Primary is Nov. 4 “No election year in Georgia has ever been more important than 2014 when it comes to public education.” —Dr. Allene Magill, Executive Director, Professional Association of Georgia Educators

Educators, support our schools!

ates d l a oc For l ations, oc and l arly E “ h searc Georgia” g Votin

Professional Learning One School’s Transformational Journey:

Viewing Students as Customers Changes Everything By Angela Garrett, PAGE Leadership Initiatives


hen schools begin to understand their community and the community begins to understand the school, everything will change. When teachers begin to view children as customers and as volunteers as opposed to workers who are made to complete work, everything will change. When we start to let go of the traditional school ways that we were taught and instead focus on what it takes to engage today’s students, everything will change. As a former elementary principal, that is exactly what happened at our school. I became an elementary school principal in 2001, following two years as the assistant and some 21 years as a speech pathologist. My school was one of six elementary schools in Dalton. The schools were divided into grades kindergarten through second, third through fourth or fifth through sixth. We served kindergarten through second graders. I was ecstatic about taking over the responsibility of principal. I knew our staff well, knew expectations of our district and superintendent, and I felt ready to take on whatever was needed. There was some discontentment within the community, however. New school zones had been established and the district was transitioning to add third grade to our primary schools. As a result, some 20 families that were active in our school transferred to another school that fall. They felt the addition of a third grade, coupled with the district rezoning, would drastically change our school. We were disappointed by their

Forsaking workbooks, teachers worked tirelessly to create hands-on, minds-on lessons that caused kids to be excited about learning. 22 PAGE ONE

decision but we were determined to do the best we could for our remaining families. TRANSFORMATION: THE FIRST STEP

The summer before my first year, I was asked to attend a conference for first-time principals. Little did I know that I was beginning a journey that would determine how I would lead our staff for my next 13 years in public education. The conference, which was presented by the Schlechty Center, drew more than 100 principals. We networked and learned from each other, but our most critical learning came from the Schlechty staff. We learned that children don’t learn much from work that they don’t like or find an interest in, and that if we really want to reach the students, we’ve got to change the work. We learned that it’s vitally important to really know our students—their likes, dislikes and interests. We learned that a school staff needs to embrace common values and beliefs about students and learning. Wow! This made total sense to me. I thought about my years in school and how I did the work no matter what. I came to see that many times, especially in math, I was compliant because I wanted to please some-

one or get good grades. I didn’t do the work because I enjoyed it or even understood it. As my thinking was changing, my superintendent at the time, Dr. Allene Magill, supported this learning. She helped me begin to see how making the work engaging to all students could make positive changes in the culture and climate of our school. SOME TEACHERS BOUGHT IN, OTHERS DID NOT

After the conference, I brought the new learning back to our staff. We examined our beliefs and values and came to an agreement about our non-negotiable beliefs that would serve as a foundation for enriching the academic lives of all of our students. With a new third-grade staff and students, the first year was challenging, and couple that with the fact that I thought everyone would love this new concept. Not everyone did, but I was determined to move forward. Our school was a good school, according to what school was supposed to be, but we did not collaborate in groups, nor did we spend much time designing lessons based on the interests of our students. Our district began to send core groups of teachers to learn more about the concept October/November 2014

of engaging work for students. After a lot of learning, conversations and gnashing of teeth, our staff began to collaborate and to design and share lessons that were markedly more interesting. The change process took years, but it was worth every minute. Workbooks were forsaken and instead, teachers worked tirelessly to create handson, minds-on lessons that encouraged kids to be excited about learning. Still, some teachers only gave lip service to the process and others wanted no part of it. A few transferred to other schools, but by the end of the third year, we began to mesh as a staff. As a still somewhat new principal, I increasingly realized how this new way of thinking about school would change us if we didn’t give up. Not only did we learn about how to offer better work to students, we learned about recruitment of new teachers, induction of veteran staff and how to be better designers.

I began talking to parents about our changes. We explained reduced or no homework and how homework must be relevant and needed, not busy work. In 2012, I was fortunate to be invited to join the PAGE Principal’s Leadership Network. It was a two-year commitment with four meetings each year presented by the Schlechty staff. The second year I could bring teacher leaders to learn with me. These learning experiences were invaluable and helped us revamp a few things and continue in the right direction. Over the years, little by little, we experienced a total transformation of what we thought was good for students and the way in which we considered lessons and learning. TRANSFORMATION IS PALPABLE


I began talking to parents about our changes. We had parent meetings and sent home letters explaining reduced or no homework and how homework must be relevant and needed, not busy work. Parents equated tons of homework with good teaching and it was difficult to help them understand why that is not really true. We decreased our dependence on worksheets and instead, promoted student conversations and the writing of their own work. These are just a few of the changes we made. None of it came easy and not all teachers followed through, but great things were happening. The spring after my first year, our aging school was renovated. Not only were we changing on the inside, we looked different on the outside as well. Our community took notice. Gradually, the surrounding community began to improve. Houses were getting new paint and yards were being cleaned up. Soon, the entire block looked better. Because our staff learning was ongoing, we asked the Schlechty staff to come to the school and help drive specific concepts deeper. Our teachers began to emerge as strong leaders in and of themselves, as well as in their classrooms and in the school. Through training in-house, in the district and at the Schlechty Center, we continued to advance our new way of thinking about our students and the work we offered them. Our design team conducted mini-sessions with our staff and we practiced new ideas. October/November 2014

Fast forward to the 2013-2014 school year, my last year as principal. We knew our community and our community knew us. Students were happy and learning at higher levels, parents were satisfied and the staff worked together like never before. We had positive relationships with our surrounding businesses. First Baptist Church brought tutors to help our low-progress students. We collaborated with our high school to allow fifth graders to learn science in high school labs with the older students, which

If children are going to learn profoundly and enjoy what they learn so that they will persist even when they don’t have to, we have to make that work interesting to them. That doesn’t happen by telling them to read quietly and answer the questions at the end of the chapter. It happens by taking risks and doing things differently.

eventually developed in all local elementary schools. Our students created iMovies with Claymation, and they performed in spring musicals. They shook hands with visitors, introduced themselves and said, “yes ma’am” and “no ma’am.” Our attendance rate last year was near 98 percent. We were a Title I awards school every year. Parents stood in line to register for our school— with some out-of-zone/district parents camping out overnight to try and get in. We had a culture not only of learning, but of love, respect and joy for our work. To say that our staff was passionate about helping students would be an understatement. This incredible staff functioned as a team. We were like a huge family that worked together for the good of all students. Remember there is no “I” in “team,” and that was important in our school. I was their coach and colleague, not an evaluator carrying a big stick. Were we perfect? Of course not, but did we have a culture of learning and a climate that would rival the best? Yes, we did. Although I’m no longer at the school, the current principal and staff continue this work with the same zeal and genuine caring. It is a wonderful place to learn. In summary, if children are going to learn profoundly and enjoy what they learn so that they will persist even when they don’t have to, we as educators have to make that work interesting to them. We must teach them to be responsible, informed and caring individuals who will one day lead our society. That doesn’t happen by telling them to read quietly and answer the questions at the end of the chapter. It happens by taking risks and doing things differently. It happens because a teacher takes an interest in the child. It’s not about reforming but about transforming the school into a place where students enjoy being every day, and where they will be offered challenging, engaging work that they understand and retain long after class is over. If you or your school is interested in learning more about the frameworks mentioned here, please contact PAGE Professional Learning at 770-216-8555, ext. 143 or 142. Q PAGE ONE 23

Professional Learning

Accomplished Educators McCown and Garrett Join PAGE Staff


ill McCown, Ed.D., former superintendent of Gordon County Schools, and Angela Garrett, former principal of Dalton’s Westwood Elementary School, have joined the PAGE Leadership Initiatives team. Under McCown’s leadership, student achievement in Gordon County increased. It also was the first district sponsored by PAGE to embrace the High School Redesign Initiative. In his new role, McCown will Dr. Bill McCown Angela Garrett help facilitate the districttomers (teachers, educational leaders wide redesign initiative in the Berrien, and staff), we ultimately serve the most Brooks, Lowndes, Tift and Valdosta City valuable customers in Georgia—public school districts. “PAGE is a learning school students.” organization dedicated to the core busiMcCown and his wife, a long-time ness of providing quality professional school volunteer, have three children, learning to the educators of Georgia,” all of whom graduated from or are curMcCown says. “By supporting our cus-

rently attending Auburn University (their father’s alma mater). Angela Garrett has been immersed in the Schlechty Center’s school transformation framework since 2001. In doing so, she has developed high-level skills in staff collaboration to design engaging and challenging student work. “It’s vitally important to know our customers—in our case, students—and what motivates them,” Garrett says. “Only then can we collaboratively make learning interesting and sustainable.” Garrett was an elementary school educator for 37 years, including 13 years serving as principal of Westwood. She and her husband have two grown children. Q

2014-15 PAGE Planner NOVEMBER 6 FEA Fall Conference, Middle Georgia State College, Macon 7 SPAGE Fall Conference, Middle Georgia State College, Macon 9–10 PAGE Principal Leadership Network, PAGE Office 16–17 PAGE Assistant Principal Leadership Network, PAGE Office

JANUARY 10 PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades Regionals

24 PAGE Academic Bowl for Middle Grades State Championship, GA College & State University, Milledgeville 25-26 PAGE Assistant Principal Leadership Academy, PAGE Office

MARCH 8–9 PAGE Principal Leadership Network, PAGE Office 22–23 PAGE Assistant Principal Leadership Network, PAGE Office

26-28 FEA Spring Training (FEAST), Epworth by the Sea, St. Simon’s Island 31 PAGE Foundation Scholarship Postmark Deadline

FEBRUARY 1–2 PAGE Designing Engaging Work, PAGE Office 17 PAGE Day on Capitol Hill, Georgia State Capitol, Atlanta 27–28 PAGE Georgia Academic Decathlon State Competition, Berkmar HS, Lilburn

11–12 PAGE Principal Leadership Network, PAGE Office


October/November 2014

Membership Services Representatives Help You Tap the Vast Resources of PAGE By Nancy Ratcliffe, PAGE Membership Services Representative, District 7

October/November 2014

is for educators to not have the information they need to do their best. Thus, we often refer them to people within PAGE or others who can answer questions. When we can’t help you directly, you’ll hear us say, “I don’t have the answer to that, but I will certainly try to find one.” MSRs stay in close contact with the PAGE office in Atlanta, and we travel there frequently to be schooled in such matters as TKES/LKES, TRS and SHBP— the “alphabet soup” that is your profession. Through PAGE, the MSR team has been schooled in “Working on the Work” and the value of student engagement. We also stay current on issues such as the effects of poverty and funding cuts on Georgia’s public schools. In fact, many of us have helped launch what we are calling “Community Conversations” in our schools and communities to help citizens become more aware of the successes and challenges schools face. Finally, MSRs are always available to assist those who wish to join PAGE. Applicants may sign up electronically, but many people still prefer pen and paper, and we happily forward applications to the membership office for processing. Once a building contact or MSR signs a paper application form, or once someone signs up online, coverage begins that day. Remember, your PAGE membership services representative is here to support you in your vital role as a Georgia public school educator. Be sure to take advantage of the vast resources availed by PAGE, and if you need anything, just ask your MSR! Q Photo by John Varner


highlighter pens and lanyards. hen I’m asked about my School visits are an especially fun part of job with PAGE, and I reply the MSR role. I enjoy providing treats, and that “I’m a member services I always travel with my chocolate “first-aid” representative (MSR),” the usual reaction kit. However, preparing for a visit is quite is, “What do you do exactly?” In short, involved. We coordinate months in advance MSRs are the “face” of PAGE, and most with building contacts, school secretaries or of us are former educators. PAGE has 14 administrators to plan a time that is convemembership services representatives, each nient for the entire school. But just as school of whom covers a region of Georgia. Each schedules are interrupted by fire drills and MSR district has about 175 schools. In metro Atlanta, the service areas are smaller unplanned pep rallies, our calendars are often juggled at the last minute due to testbecause of the concentration of schools. ing, weather or an unexpected meeting at The opposite is true in south Georgia. the district office. We’re also careful to miniIn our frequent travels throughout the mize mileage and maximize scheduling to state, we often arrive at schools before make the most of our PAGE resources. most of the staff to set up breakfast snacks and prepare to meet current and prospective PAGE members. Later in the day, in another system, we may be the last to drive away following a late faculty meeting. We are well acquainted with the food providers in our areas, and we shop at Sam’s Club and Dollar Tree as regularly as most people shop at their local supermarket. However, in service to our 85,000 members, we are much more than hosts. We ensure that each school has a PAGE contact to provide colleagues with membership information, as well as timely news regarding PAGE MSR Melanie Evans welcomes Paulding education legislation, evaluation County’s newest teachers. requirements, health benefits and more. Beyond building and system contacts, an MSR’s contact list includes WANT TO KNOW? JUST ASK YOUR MSR! principals, human resources directors and When we arrive at a school, we superintendents. unload carts of materials, and in short order, transform a table in the cafeteria or teacher workroom into a tempting THE AMBASSADORS OF PAGE spread of food, goodies and information. PAGE is known for warmly welcoming During our visit, we help members sign every new teacher in Georgia, and as such, up for informative PAGE emails, provide the MSRs serve as PAGE ambassadors. In contact information for our legal departfact, often the first gift teachers receive is ment and field questions on everything one from the PAGE district MSR welcomfrom pending legislation to changes in ing them to the profession during orientation. Teachers throughout the state proudly certification and teacher evaluations. MSRs understand how frustrating it display their PAGE “easy quiz graders,”

Nancy Ratcliffe taught English/language arts and was a graduation coach in Northwest Georgia for 35 years. She also helped develop Georgia’s graduation and EOC tests. She is now mentoring her second generation of students who have become educators. PAGE ONE 25


TKES: Teachers Must Strive for ‘Exemplary’ or ‘Proficient’ By Matthew M. Pence, PAGE Staff Attorney


ouse Bill 244, which took effect on July 1, requires all Georgia teachers to be evaluated on the Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES). TKES began as part of Georgia’s Race to the Top initiative. Many districts have utilized TKES over the past three years, but starting this year, all districts must use it to evaluate teachers. TKES evaluates only those educators who provide direct instruction to students. Other personnel, such as graduation coaches, psychologists and guidance counselors, remain on a different evaluation system. Administrators and other leaders will be evaluated under the Leader Keys Effectiveness System (LKES).


Classroom teachers will receive an overall end-of-the-year rating of “exemplary,” “proficient,” “needs development” or “ineffective.” The overall score will be a combination of the following two components of TKES: The first component is the Teacher Assessment on Performance Standards (TAPS). These are the 10 standards that evaluators look for during the six observations of the academic year. It is also important to note that, for certain educators, student surveys will be administered at least once during an academic year. Each student survey will be anonymous. The surveys, which were developed by an external vendor, will only be administered to students in grades 3-12. The purpose of the surveys, according to the DOE, is to inform ratings regarding the following Performance Standards: 3 (Instructional Strategies), 4 (Differentiated Instruction), 7 (Positive Learning Environment), and 8 (Academically Challenging Environment). The second component of TKES is student growth. Student growth is based 26 PAGE ONE

on state assessment data (Student Growth Percentiles based on student performance on the CRCT and EOCT) or, where there is no state-mandated assessment, a Student Learning Objective (SLO), or in the event a teacher teaches both tested and non-tested courses, a combination of the SGP and SLO growth. SLOs include pre and post assessments. SLOs are locally written and must be approved by the DOE prior to testing. When the final evaluation is conducted in the spring, the TAPS component and the student growth component will comprise the Teacher Effectiveness Measure (TEM). Per HB 244, at least 50 percent of the evaluation of a teacher or leader must be based on student growth. Student growth in tested courses will be measured by comparing a student to other students with a similar history of scores. Two years of data are required to model growth. LOWER SCORES REPORTED TO THE PSC

It is imperative that all educators strive for an overall score of “exemplary” or proficient.” Overall rankings of “needs development” or “ineffective” will be

reported to the Professional Standards Commission. HB 244 specifically allows the PSC to refuse license renewal of any educator who receives and does not successfully remediate a combination of two “needs development” or one “ineffective” rating during a five-year period. Moreover, the bill also mandates that an overall rating of “ineffective” will constitute evidence of incompetency under the Fair Dismissal Act. Finally, any educator who receives an overall “ineffective” or two consecutive overall rankings of “needs development” will not receive credit on the pay scale for the “ineffective” year or for the second consecutive “needs development” year. Educators also need not worry about information pertaining to their evaluations being subject to review by the public under the Open Records Act. HB 244 mandates that all records associated with individual performance evaluations be confidential and not subject to public disclosure. For more information about TKES, LKES or any other evaluation system, please contact the PAGE Legal Department at 770-216-8555 or 800-334-6861. Q

Update on TAPS An article in the August 2013 issue of PAGE One magazine covered the teacher assessment standards in depth. (The article can be found in the legal section of the PAGE website.) However, TAPS has undergone the following important change since we published the article: “During observations, evaluators will now rank performance on the 10 standards as Level I (lowest rating), Level II, Level III or Level IV (highest rating).”

October/November 2014

Foundation News ‘A PAGE Turning Event’ Honors Wells Fargo and Mike Donnelly


ells Fargo and its Atlanta Region President Mike Donnelly were honored Sept. 15 at the 10th annual “A PAGE Turning Event,” which recognizes corporations, foundations and individuals for exemplary support for public school improvement. Donnelly, whose mother and sister are teachers, and whose children attend public schools in Georgia, says he feels a personal, as well as a corporate, commitment to ensuring that all students receive a high-

quality education at their public schools. “Wells Fargo and Mike Donnelly display their commitment to the communities they serve in a multitude of ways,” says PAGE Foundation President John Varner. “A primary focus of their charitable giving is directed toward public education and youth here and elsewhere around the country through the PAGE Foundation, Teach For America, Boys & Girls Clubs and other worthy nonprofits.” Varner went on to say that Wells Fargo employees vol-

(l-r) Wells Fargo Atlanta Region President Mike Donnelly was honored by PAGE Executive Director Dr. Allene Magill for his leadership in and support of public school improvement.

unteer to support education causes and also contribute to entities that help children and adults stay healthy, including the Heart Association and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Proceeds from “A PAGE Turning Event” support the mission of the PAGE Foundation, which is the delivery of a world-class education for all Georgia students through the recruitment, development, retention and recognition of outstanding educators. Q

(l-r) Honoree Mike Donnelly and Paul Szymonski, who Donnelly honored as his favorite teacher. Szymonski taught Donnelly history in high school and was his track and crosscountry coach.

(l-r) John Varner, PAGE Foundation president; Dr. Allene Magill, PAGE executive director; Phil Jacobs, partner with The Pendleton Group and Host Committee co-chair; Shan Cooper, vice president and general manager at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company and Host Committee co-chair; Allen Thomas, southeast regional vice president of VALIC and immediate past-chair of the PAGE Foundation; Carol Sbarge, WSB-TV anchor; Howard Morrison, owner of Lebanon Plantation and PAGE Foundation chair; Honoree Mike Donnelly, Wells Fargo Atlanta region president; Gay Donnelly; and Leslie Mills, school improvement specialist with Georgia First District RESA and PAGE President.

October/November 2014


Foundation News ‘A PAGE Turning Event’ continued

The PAGE Foundation Gratefully Acknowledges Our Sponsors Valedictorian AGL Resources Georgia-Pacific Wells Fargo Salutatorian

(l-r) Richard Johnson, regional director-external affairs, AT&T; Allison Johnson; Beth Shiroishi, president, AT&T Georgia; Pete Martin, vice president of external affairs (retired), AT&T; Jane Martin; and Sonia Daniels, area manager-external and legislative affairs, AT&T.

Adams, Hemingway & Wilson, LLP AT&T Georgia Delta Air Lines GE Genuine Parts Company Georgia Power Lockheed Martin VALIC Honors Board of Regents, University System of Georgia Cox Enterprises Georgia EMC, Oglethorpe Power, Georgia Transmission Metro Atlanta Chamber The Pendleton Group, LLC Prior, Daniel & Wiltshire, LLC

(l-r) Amanda Miliner, 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year; Lisa Smith, assistant to senior vice president, Georgia Power; and Henry Kelly, project executive, Georgia Power.

Robert L. Brown, Jr. & Steve Green United Distributors, Inc. Woodruff Arts Center

PAGE Foundation Board of Trustees Focuses on School Transformation


ublic education transformation rather than conventional school “reform” dominated the 2014 annual meeting of the PAGE Foundation Board of Trustees. During a 24-hour period that began Sept. 14, trustees heard from 2014 Georgia Superintendent of the Year and Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Taylor, PAGE Executive Director Dr. Allene Magill, students and educators at Sonoraville High School, candidates for governor and state school superintendent and Investment Committee Chair Pete Martin.


“Two highlights of this year’s annual meeting are the dinner we enjoyed at Discovery Center on Sunday night featuring Drs. Taylor and Magill and the Monday tour of Sonoraville High School, which was set up for us by Principal Bruce Potts,” says PAGE Foundation President John Varner. “At the dinner, which was hosted by the Chick-fil-A Foundation, we heard Dr. Magill explain the difference between transformation and reform and why it is imperative that public schools engage their students in rigorous, meaningful academic work as an integral part of any school

improvement strategy. “The following day, our trustees were able to see a high school that embodies transformation working in tandem with PAGE’s Professional Learning Department. I think our trustees and invited guests were struck by how engaged Sonoraville High School students are in their work and how the roles of educators are redefined in an important and exhilarating way through the transformation process.” Varner adds that Dr. Taylor’s presentation focused on how and why local school systems should engage in community conver-

October/November 2014

sations to ensure public support for changes that occur during school transformation. PAGE has worked with Taylor and other forward-thinking school leaders to emphasize the need for such community conversations, according to the foundation president. The foundation also elected new officers at the annual meeting. Succeeding VALIC Southeast Region Vice President Allen Thomas as Board of Trustees Chair is Howard Morrison, a retired banker and Savannah civic leader. Oglethorpe Power Corporation Director of Community Relations Diane McClearen was elected Vice Chair, Middle Georgia College Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Martha Venn was re-elected Secretary and K.S.W. Enterprises Owner Scott Williams was elected Treasurer. The Board of Trustees welcomed back into its ranks Greater Rome Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Al Hodge. In a special moment of PAGE Foundation history, Paul “Bud� Copeland, owner of Copeland Insurance and son of PAGE Founder Paul Copeland, Sr., joined the board as a new trustee. The board also welcomed PAGE President-elect Stephanie Davis Howard and PAGE Secretary Kelli De Guire as new trustees. Q

(l-r) PAGE President and School Improvement Specialist with Georgia First District RESA Leslie Mills; Chick-fil-A Foundation Associate Director of Nonprofit Development Trayce Striggles; PAGE President-elect and Marietta City Schools educator Stephanie Davis Howard; and PAGE Executive Director Dr. Allene Magill gathered at the Discovery Center for the first event of the two-day PAGE Foundation Board of Trustees Meeting. The Chick-fil-A Foundation hosted the dinner, and Striggles led the group in a tour of the Discovery Center.

Sonoraville High School Principal Bruce Potts (standing) talked to trustees about the importance of engaging work for students and high school transformation.

2014 Georgia Superintendent of the Year and Calhoun City Schools Superintendent Dr. Michele Taylor talked to the trustees about the effectiveness of community conversations held within her school district.

PAGE Foundation Immediate-Past Chair Allen Thomas (right) passes the gavel to newly-elected PAGE Foundation Chair Howard Morrison.

Ask Friends to Support YOU on Nov. 13 Thursday, Nov. 13, marks Georgia Gives Day. The PAGE Foundation is proud to participate in this statewide day of giving. Please share the link,, and ask friends to support PAGE, the organization that is committed to you! Proceeds support PAGE Professional Learning initiatives and PAGE Foundation student programs. To learn more, follow PAGE on Twitter @PAGE_EdNews and on Facebook.

October/November 2014


Georgia Teacher of the Year Was Nurtured as a Student


I bounced a lot from house to house and needed support from teachers. — Amanda Miliner, 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year

manda Miliner, a fourth-grade teacher from Miller Elementary School in Warner Robins, is the 2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year. As the only child of a single mother who was active duty in the United States Air Force, Miliner depended on her school relationships, especially her teachers. “I bounced a lot from house to house, and I found the need for support from teachers,” says Miliner in speaking to her alma mater, Valdosta State University. A 2006 graduate, she was the first in her family to graduate from college. Volunteering for Big Brothers Big Sisters while in college changed the course of Miliner’s life. Her “little sister” was taught by Julie Hiers at nearby S.L. Mason Elementary. “She is an amazing teacher,” Miliner says. “When I saw her teaching, I changed my major from psychology to early childhood education.” Later, Miliner completed her student teaching with Hiers. After serving as Miss Georgia in 2006

and becoming the second runner-up in the 2007 Miss America Pageant, Miliner traveled and worked in entertainment for a year; but she felt the need to return to where she had felt most fulfilled, and within a few weeks she landed a teaching position. As host teacher for a Math Early Intervention class, Miliner’s class achieved a 100 percent pass rate in math on the CRCT for several years. In her role as Teacher of the Year, Miliner is an advocate for public education in Georgia. “She has already changed lives in her classroom, and through this platform she will change the lives of many more children in Georgia,” said State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge. “I want to give a voice to teachers,” Miliner says. “I really want people genuinely to understand the many hats and roles that teachers play. … I would love for people to spend a week—not a day, anyone can last a day—and really see what it is like as an educator.” Q

2015 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists Teacher




Rita L. Simmons


Cleveland Ave. Elem.

Gifted K-5

Rhonda Lokey


Campbell Middle

6th Grade Social Studies

Dr. Lyn Schenbeck


Central Educational Center

Film/Video Music, Business in Arts, Music in Medicine, String & Vocals

Michelle Peace


Early County High

Spanish I, II, III,

Sarah Ballew Welch


Fannin County High

English, Oral/Written Communications & British Literature

Nick C. Crowder


South Forsyth High

Engineering Education

Hyunjin Son


Gwinnett School of MS&T

Physics, Foundations of Engineering &Technology

Paul D. Mixon


Heard County High

Journalism, Economics

Amanda Miliner


Miller Elementary

4th Grade

Marc Pedersen


Paulding County High

Biology, Biotechnology & Chemistry


October/November 2014


The 3rd Annual ‘First-Year Survival’ Conference A day of professional learning focused on preparing teacher candidates for a successful first year in teaching




Experienced educators will be the first to tell you that the realities of our first classrooms don’t exactly meet our expectations. Those little darlings we dream about don’t always behave like we imagine. Add to that the many demands of lesson planning, SST meetings, parent conferences, submitting grades and completing report after report, and you quickly learn that a teacher’s first year is hard. Really hard. So we have put together a professional learning event that instructs teacher candidates on: • classroom management strategies • designing work that truly engages students • meeting the needs of diverse learners • engaging parents in the education process • … and more! Plus, a special presentation by the PAGE legal department on avoiding ethical and legal problems

Friday, Nov. 7, 2014 • 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Middle Georgia State College – Macon Register online at

Decatur County PAGE Volunteers Laud Honor Graduates In a long-standing tradition, Decatur County in southwest Georgia celebrated its 2014 honor graduates with a banquet hosted by volunteers for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators. Held at Bainbridge High School, the event recognized the seniors, as well as a teacher that each student chose to honor. Additionally, PAGE Membership Services Representative Gwen Desselle awarded a PAGE scholarship. Event organizers included Alicia Gordon, the PAGE system contact for Decatur County, and PAGE building contacts for area schools.

PAGE MSR Gwen Desselle

Audit of PAGE Self-Insurance Programs PAGE recently had its regularly scheduled audit of self-insurance programs to assure maximum efficiency and effectiveness. The audit was performed in accordance with the Department of Insurance, which oversees and regulates such plans. DOI recommended the following actions to ensure that PAGE programs best serve members: continue to increase the reserve fund (now at approximately $1.2 million); final adoption of PAGE general counsel-developed policies on investments and conflicts of interest; and updating of required filings with the DOI. PAGE has or is taking all recommended actions. We appreciate the DOI’s guidance and the professionalism of its staff in helping us to serve our members.

OFFICERS President Leslie Mills President-Elect Stephanie Davis Howard Treasurer Lamar Scott Past-President Dr. Emily Felton DIRECTORS District 1 Amy Denty District 2 Dr. Todd Cason District 3 Allison Scenna District 4 Rochelle Lofstrand District 5 Nick Zomer District 6 Dr. Susan Mullins District 7 Kelli De Guire

District 8 Lindsey Raulerson District 9 Miranda Willingham District 10 Shannon Hammond District 11 Dr. Sandra Owens District 12 Donna Graham District 13 Dr. Hayward Cordy

Ex-Officio Megan King


PAGE ONE Magazine Professional Association of Georgia Educators Statement of Ownership, Management and Circulation Title of Publication: PAGE ONE Magazine: Professional Association of Georgia Educators. Publication Number: 1523-6188. Date of filing: September 12, 2014. Frequency of issue: Five times yearly. Number of issues published annually: Five. Location of known office of publication: New South Publishing, Inc., 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA 30350. Owner: Professional Association of Georgia Educators, 2971 Flowers Road South, Suite 151, Atlanta, GA 30341. Extent and Nature of Circulation: Circulation of single issue published nearest to filing date: Total copies printed, 79,451. Sales through vendors, dealers, carriers and over the counter: 0. Mail subscriptions, 77,754. Total paid circulation, 77,754. Free distribution (by mail carrier or other means, including samples) 1,605. Total distribution, 79,359. Copies not distributed (office use, unaccounted for) 92. Average circulation for each issue in preceding 12 months. Total copies printed, 77,478. Sales through vendors, dealers, carriers and over the counter, 0. Mail subscriptions, 75,630. Total paid circulation, 75,630. Free distribution (by mail, carrier or other means, including samples) 1,759. Total distribution, 77,389. Copies not distributed (office use, unaccounted for) 89. Percent paid and/or requested circulation: 97.7%.

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: Tim Callahan;, PAGE One magazine; PAGE; P.O. Box 942270; Atlanta, GA 31141-2270; 770-216-8555; 800-334-6861. Contributions/gifts to the PAGE Foundation are deductible as charitable contribution 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 2014–15 dues is allocated to lobbying. PAGE One magazine (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 non-profit postage paid at Atlanta, Georgia, and additional mailing offices. (USPS 017-347) Postmaster: Send address changes to PAGE One, P.O. Box 942270, Atlanta, GA 31141–2270. PAGE One magazine 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 ©2014

October/November 2014

Master of Education Our Master of Education with a Major in Teacher Leadership is designed to create and

Degree Program Admission Requirements:

foster leadership skills for teachers who wish to become stronger leaders in their own schools, districts, and communities. This degree program:

• Must be a certified teacher working in the classroom • Must have at least three years of teaching experience

• Offers teachers of all disciplines and grade levels to opportunity to develop leadership skills that they can take back to their classrooms, schools, and communities.

• Is designed for certified classroom teachers who want to improve their leadership skills, but remain in the classroom.

in the K-12 classroom

• Recommended undergraduate 3.0 GPA • Official acceptable Graduate Record Examination scores

• Recommendations by administrator and peer teacher

• Provides educators with the opportunity for a Georgia Professional Standards Commission approved certification upgrade.

• Creates a community of learners through an online environment.

• Enriches understanding of the importance of school culture.

• Models best pedogogical practices for successful teaching methods and curriculum design.

• Demonstrates methods for designing assessments and analyzing results.

For more information, contact: Dr. Dennis G. Attick Program Coordinator (678) 466-4825 |

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