Invest now for our future success

Kathy Cox's picture

Georgia Superintendent of Schools

Georgia law requires the legislature to approve a balanced budget, which I believe is very wise. In these difficult economic times, I do not envy the task they have before them.

But, just as we should not saddle the next generation with our debt, we also should not take away the opportunity for our kids to receive an education that prepares them for their 21st century world.

We are fortunate to have some of the best teachers and school leaders in the nation (Georgia has had a National Principal of the Year for three years in a row). They have been laser-focused on their mission of improving student achievement, and I am proud to see so much progress being made.

But, I maintain that drastic and severe cuts hurt teachers and students and negatively impact our progress. If there are further cuts to school system funding then we can’t expect things to be business as usual.

While I fully recognize the severity of our revenue shortfall, I am not in favor of additional cuts to public K-12 education.

Recently, the House and Senate asked that we discuss budget options if revenues were less than the Governor’s original FY11 budget submission.

When looking at such a bleak scenario, we told members of the General Assembly that it is unrealistic to think that you can truly retain 180 days of quality instruction for students if all 10 days of pre- and post-planning for teachers are cut.

Expecting teachers to begin and end a school year on the same day students do is like a restaurant manager asking staff members to show up at the same time the first customer is to be served.

That manager knows that if dinner service starts at 5 you better be willing to pay your chef to come in for preparation a few hours earlier.

And when have you ever seen the staff leave the restaurant at the same time as the last customer? That restaurant would not be successful.

Similarly, teachers need preparation time to be successful.

Do I want to cut the number of instructional days for students? Of course not. But as a former classroom teacher, I know that we must provide teachers time to prepare so they can give our students their very best. Our kids deserve it.

I appreciate the diligence of the legislators and the seriousness of their exploration of all the issues and all the options. I am hopeful that the legislature will prioritize this budget to fund one of our primary constitutional obligations — educating Georgia’s K-12 students.

Providing for our students now is an investment in our state’s current and future success. If we want to continue making progress, then we must be willing to invest in Georgia?s greatest resource — our children.

[Kathy Cox, a parent and a veteran classroom teacher in Fayette County, is Georgia’s Superintendent of Schools.]

Bonkers's picture
Joined: 03/01/2010
To: Supt. Cox

Since the state can't borrow money and the legislature won't raise taxes, and the County won't raise taxes, then maybe professional teachers might work 10 days without pay to prepare for the school year. I hope that isn't against union rules!

Ever since I've been old enough to buy beer I have never had a job where I worked a set number of hours per day or a set number of days per year! Also work at night was always necessary, along with long trips.

As you well know this Great recession has bankrupted many people and cut some salary in half and about 10-15% are living on $200 + per week unemployment from Washington---not Georgia.
I hope your principals of the year weren't like the Atlanta area--what with the erasures to get awards and bonuses!

Cut your budget like everyone else and scrap tenure for bad teachers and no grand-mothering!

Davids mom
Davids mom's picture
Joined: 10/30/2005
Teacher's Union

What is the Union in Georgia that teachers belong to?

wildcat's picture
Joined: 04/12/2006
DM/Teacher Union

Unfortunately, there is no real teacher's union in this state. We have PAGE and GAE both of whom "represent" both teachers and administrators. Which is a conflict of interest. There is also MACE and you should check out their website! I remember in 95 or 96 when we were given memos (on half sheets of paper-this was before there were computers in the classroom) telling us that should we spot John Trotter on the premises that we should call the front office immediately. I had no clue as to who he was and just figured he was a crazy parent! Another really good site to blog about Georgia schools is the AJC "Get Schooled" blog. I've been going there for years and find it to be quite interesting at times.

Davids mom
Davids mom's picture
Joined: 10/30/2005

The 'Get Schooled' blog is fascinating. Thanks again for the information.

Davids mom
Davids mom's picture
Joined: 10/30/2005
Thanks Wildcat

I'm from California - where the powerful UTLA was organized. I wondered what some posters were discussing when they referred to 'unions' for teachers here in Georgia. I'll visit those sites. The teachers that I have met in Fayetteville are so dedicated, innovative, and caring - I'm just amazed that anyone talks against public school teachers in Fayetteville. If teachers are treated as second-class citizens, they may feel that they need a 'union'. Sad.

Many moved to this area because of the quality of the public schools. Community groups should be meeting and developing strategies to keep Fayetteville schools, teachers and students protected from cuts/furloughs. All of the schools in Fayetteville passed the NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND mandates. That is because of dedicated teachers and concerned parents. Fayetteville - protect your teachers!!

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