Collective silence by lawmakers, school board ... An Insult to Teachers
April 27, 2013 12:00 AM | 2448 views | 8 8 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dick Yarbrough
Dick Yarbrough
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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 yarb2400@bellsouth.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.
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Jim Stoll
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April 28, 2013
Thank you Dick, for calling it as it is. I once worked for a Georgia company whose senior staff spent most of their working day playing "Phantasy Football" while their company moved toward bankruptcy. I have watched the CCSD for ten years now and I believe that most of the senior staff, including board members, spend most of their time playing "Phantasy Administration", while our educational system moves closer and closer to bankruptcy. It is my belief that most of those who graduate from CCSD have great difficulty with writing the English language properly and almost all of them know nothing about American or World History. This leaves us with a future adult population which is largely functionally illiterate. Math is another story. The founder of Home Depot recently reported on CNBC that a company he still owns has great difficulty hiring high school graduate delivery personnel who have the ability to make change if someone wants to pay cash. These problems are not the result of poor teaching. They are the fault of the program that their school administrators determine they must teach. That is why the education system in America has swithched from an educational system to an indoctrination system. I'm happy that I won't be around to live with the results.
It's A Local Problem
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April 27, 2013
Thank you for once again sticking up for CCSD teachers! But to be clear, the problem is really not the state law itself. The problem is CCSD HR's ridiculously strict interpretation of the law, and the resulting witch hunts that follow, in which employees indeed seem to be presumed guilty. (Such witch hunts, by the way, are not restricted to just mandated reporting cases in Cobb; they are par for the course with most CCSD HR investigations.) The comparative statistics are stunning: CCSD has apparently disciplined almost 10 times as many employees for alleged mandated reporting violations as the next highest school district. In total, it seems that CCSD has done more of these cases than most other metro districts combined! This is really a local problem, and one which will ultimately require a local solution from the Board.
anonymous
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April 28, 2013
Someone should do a psychiatric profile of the HR educrat who is making decisions related to this law.

You will be amazed at what you find.
Bill Millette
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April 27, 2013
Dick,

I agree with your support of the educators and the hasty actions taken against them. I believe each will be vindicated,. However, the stain of the incidents will, most likely, mark their careers, unjustly.

I also agree with you about Randy Scamihorn. In the past as a member of the CCSD technical support team, I had the pleasure of working with Randy when he was an educator. He was a knowledgeable, fair administrator. I suspect the lack of support from his fellow board members is they do not know how to react to someone who understands what it is to be an educator and how things really work, day to day,in the school system.

I disagree with your feelings about the involvement of Ed Setzler and Judson Hill in this issue. The Common Core curriculum , in my opinion, takes the education needs and interests of our children out of the hands of local education people puts it into the hands of Big Brother. For those who follow issues of this nature, I remind them of the revisionist history books of Howard Zinn which are used in many schools today. I also remind them that , in some areas of America, American history is no longer taught. What kind of citizens does that create?

Both legislators are to be congratulated for their understanding and concerns about that issue.It goes far beyond Cobb County. I do not believe they have a Rhett Butler attitude.

At the same time, I understand and agree with your indignation of the absence of due process for those CCSD personnel involved.

Sadly, I agree with you that most folks in Cobb do not give a rat's bottom and this may result in more hasty actions in the future at the expense of our educators.

Pity
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April 27, 2013
Thank you for this commentary, Mr. Yarborough. You are absolutely correct. It appears that NO ONE has the teachers' backs as no one trusts them to do the right thing. Unfortunately, it's reasons like this that unions were created. Teaching is a tough job. Teachers can not trust their administrators to always have their support as Glover Street does not want parent complaints so they tell the administrators to handle it. Thus, the administrators will side with the parent - regardless who is at fault when it comes to dealing with unruly students. After being an educator for 30 years, I cannot express how disappointed I am with public education these days. Our schools take care of these children for more hours each day than many parents. We have students in our elementary schools from 7 in the morning until 6 at night. And when things don't go the way the parents want - OF COURSE, it's the school's fault. Who else's fault could it be??? Geeeezzzz..... .
anonymous
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April 28, 2013
How about some whine with your Geeeeeeeez?
Way off base
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April 27, 2013
You are so off the map, you are going to need a GPS to even get in the ballpark on this one.

It is highly doubtful that you even watched the meeting beyond the public comment. If you knew anything AT ALL about Common Core and the current situation, you would know that Perdue and Cox signed the paperwork on Georgia's behalf without any legislative input whatsoever. And the only reason, Mr. Yardbird, that you are singing the praises of the Chair is because Scamihorn praised the one who writes your check!

If I were giving you a grade, it would be a D-. Barely passing for knowing a miniscule of the topic, but other than that, I suspect you copied someone else's paper.

Get with it, Dick!
Papermill gal
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April 29, 2013
This comment sounds like it comes from one of the do-nothing members of the cobb legislative delegation. You guys are so used to operating under the radar, just the slightest criticism or call to arms really stings, doesn't it? Maybe if you would do more to mentor, advise newer politicians and generally stand up for what is right, this criticism would not be forthcoming. YOU approved this legislation, now clean up your mess!
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