Collective silence by lawmakers, school board ... An Insult to Teachers
Does anyone around here care about school teachers in Cobb County? I am dismayed — to put it mildly — at the attitude of the Cobb County Board of Education (with one exception), the Cobb County School District (with no exceptions) and the intrepid public servants that make up the Cobb County legislative delegation (with possibly one exception) regarding the treatment of several Cobb educators and the interpretation of a state law on reporting sexual abuse. The Marietta Daily Journal recently brought the disturbing matter to our attention. However, beyond the MDJ editors and the chairman of the school board, Randy Scamihorn, I’m not sure anybody else gives a rat’s bottom. According to reports in Around Town last week, Scamihorn expressed concern to his colleagues on the board in the case of Kell High Principal Trudie Donovan, accused of not reporting a pair of slapping incidents involving a Kell teacher; the firings of Tapp Middle School principal Dr. Jerry Dority and counselor Yatta Collins for failing to report hearsay information and the effort to suspend Awtrey Middle School Principal Jeff Crawford — without pay — for failing to report hearing of an alleged off-campus sexual assault involving two students. As of this date, the Cobb Solicitor’s Office has dropped the charges against Donovan for lack of evidence and we will see if Dority and Collins have the same results. Crawford’s hearing is next month. Scamihorn told AT, “I wanted the MDJ to know, the public and our educators to know that we hear you. If policies and procedures need to be changed, then that needs to be what happens. I was uncomfortable after reading (the stories) as a retired educator and as a board member. I feel like that whatever the issues are, they need to be looked at in the immediate future.” Alas, Around Town reports that his comments “were met with silence by the other board members.” Their silence should speak volumes to the classroom teachers. What is a piddling matter of people’s basic rights of due process when we have the opportunity to rail on the issue of the Common Core curriculum and whether or not to buy several million dollars’ worth of textbooks that nobody but bureaucrats seem to want? Fortunately, that turkey was shot down in Thursday’s meeting of the school board by a vote of 4-3. (I loved the picture in Friday’s MDJ of the guy speaking to the school board dressed like an American flag. I have a pretty good idea of how he feels about Common Core. Wonder how he feels about due process?) I opined a couple of weeks ago that members of the Cobb legislative delegation need to take a look at this law and see if it is being interpreted correctly and applied fairly and if it puts too much of a premium on hearsay evidence. I have heard nary a peep from any of them. Yet, when the issue of purchasing textbooks that support the Common Core curriculum and, in my opinion, puts us closer to having the feds run our public schools, what to my wondering eyes should appear but Sen. Judson Hill (R-east Cobb) and State Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth) protesting the purchase and the Common Core curriculum. If they deign to read this far, they should know that I agree with them on Common Core, but if they are so all-fired interested in the doings of education in Cobb County, how do they feel about a law for which they are responsible that seems to deem people guilty until proven innocent? To paraphrase my old friend, Rhett Butler, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t think they give a damn.” I’m not talking about just Hill and Setzler. I am talking about the whole Cobb County delegation. I will give Sen. Lindsay Tippins (R-Marietta) a pass at this point because he seems to be the only one in the bunch that knows or cares about public education and the teachers on the firing line. I can tell you that with more assurance after we have had an opportunity to talk. Sen. Hill, on the other hand, is closely allied with the American Legislative Exchange Council, certainly no friend of public education. So, Cobb County school teachers: Let’s summarize. At this point, nobody seems to have your back. Not the Cobb County School District and the faceless bureaucrats contained within; not the Cobb County school board that up to this point has always seemed to enjoy hearing themselves talk and certainly not members of the Cobb legislative delegation who are too busy slurping ideological Kool-Aid to worry about you, your classroom, your morale or your basic rights. In my opinion, the collective silence of these groups is not golden. It is an insult. You can reach Dick Yarbrough at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.