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Certain local school district waivers are harmful to personnel and the learning environment

For Immediate Release                                                                       October 31, 2017

ATLANTA – “Some school districts are utilizing waivers to sidestep the positive intents of laws, rules and policies passed down from lawmakers under the Gold Dome and State Department of Education,” said Dr. Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE).  “We now have too many instances of school districts choosing to circumvent the laws in ways that are detrimental to students and teachers. This ends up not only negatively impacting teachers’ ability to effectively educate, but also adds to the unfortunate overall perception that the teaching profession and public schools are not respected.”

As an example, Chapman highlights the recent teacher pay increases over the past two years championed by Gov. Deal and passed by the legislature.  “Last year the three percent raises were not added to the state salary schedule, which meant districts were not beholden to the actual intent of the monies and many districts used the money for other things.  This past year the two percent raise that was passed by the legislature was added to the salary schedule, but many districts still used waivers to not pass on raises to teachers who overall have not seen salary increases in over 8 years.”

Chapman stresses that we are in the midst of a teacher shortage that shows no sign of abating and we wonder why; low pay, arcane rules, seemingly being blamed for everything wrong with public education. “While schools districts across Georgia have their ‘Teachers Wanted’ notices out, many of their actions tell potential prospects ‘we’ll address your concerns later,’” he said.  “In the meantime, waivers tell prospects they will work with few to no bathroom breaks, work even though a child threatens to harm you, work with fewer resources than actually needed; have no time to plan for your classes, work with unmanageable class sizes, work with stacks of unrelated classroom paperwork, work in non-teaching related assignments, teach classes outside your area of expertise, and fit in a full year’s classwork in fewer school days. Oh and do this while making sure all of your children, no matter what their abilities and life situations, pass all of their tests and make A’s.”

Waivers are also being used to hire “fill-in” teachers like those from Teach for America and other like programs that often undermine the teaching profession and says to parents that their children are not worth having a trained, qualified teacher in their classroom says Chapman.  “It shortchanges our children. Teaching should not be treated like a community service project.  In a classroom, every minute is key to helping children understand their lessons and move on to the next step.  Classrooms are not pit stops for someone’s resume as they move on to their actual goals.”

“Along the same lines are waivers not recognizing monetary compensation for the masters and doctoral degrees teachers strive to attain for their professional improvement and that of their students,” said Chapman.  “This also goes directly to respect of the teaching profession.  Other professions acknowledge the growth of their employees and what enhances their ability to be better at their jobs.  This same recognition of advancement is too often ignored within the K-12 education community feeding, once again, devaluing personnel.”

“Teaching is the profession that allows all other professions to exist,” exclaimed Chapman.  “Respect and support for it is what will begin to resonate with teacher prospects and help retain those currently in our classrooms.  When those considering the teaching profession see it being valued, that’s when the tide will begin to turn.  If you truly want to keep attracting the cream of the crop, you can’t simply give these concerns lip service.”

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