Beware the incoming tide

Rick Ryckeley's picture

The receding water tugged at the corners of the magnificent castle he had built. As each wave folded back onto itself, it took with it handfuls of sand. The sand was pulled under the water and reclaimed by the tide’s relentless force.

The boy’s blue eyes filled with tears as he watched the mighty sandcastle he had spent the better part of a day building slowly dissolve. Helplessness filled his small 6-year-old frame, forcing him to his knees, and he wept. Everything he had worked so hard for was being washed away. Despite his best efforts, the impending disaster was unavoidable.

The moat he had dug around his castle at first provided protection, keeping the smaller waves at bay, but eventually it proved no match for the unyielding pull of the ocean. The second line of defense – a hastily built wall of sand and desperation – was also quickly washed away.

No matter what age you are, it’s a helpless feeling to watch all that you’ve worked for – whether it is a sunny day at the beach or years spent in the classroom – simply washed away.

For Georgia teachers and administrators, it’s not a wave that’s coming to destroy their sandcastles. It’s a tsunami called Sonny Perdue. The governor is leaving office this year and recedes back into private life.

In his wake he takes with him a huge pension and a unique legacy — the fact that he has done more than any other governor to decimate the physical lives and morale of Georgia educators.

They’re facing unpaid furlough days again in addition to a possible shorter school year, which will equate to even less pay. I’m not usually a proponent of unions, but I’m afraid without one, Georgia educators are helpless to fight back.

Like many who are suffering, teachers have done absolutely nothing to cause the economic downturn and subsequent shortfall in the state’s coffers. Then why hold them accountable and punish them?

That’s the thought process that gave us “No Child Left Behind,” and all the other unfunded mandates schools must now follow. Although not a politically correct idea, the reality is a simple one. Despite teachers’ best efforts, there will always be low performing students. There will always be those who are left behind.

As you start to draw your pension, Mr. Perdue, remember this: teachers became teachers not for the meager salary, but because they answered a calling. Just like firefighters and police officers. With your draconian cuts, unpaid furlough days, and proposals to no longer pay for higher degrees, how many future teachers will hear that calling only to leave it unanswered?

A parting thought. Before you leave office, why don’t you help with the state’s budget crisis by cutting your pension? It’s only logical and fair. I’m sure you’re more responsible for the state’s shortfalls in revenues than the teachers and administrators who have given and still will give their best. Even with all of your salary cuts.

Poor planning in the placement of sandcastles is the reason the ocean washes them away. Governor, with your cuts and poor planning, you too are destroying homes. And not being fair to the educators of our children. It just doesn’t make sense.

Then again to be a politician, you really don’t have to make sense or even be fair. All you have to do is get one more vote than the person who comes in second place.