Atlanta Superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, is New but Embattled and Still Catching Hell!

Atlanta.  Cheating, cheating, cheating.  Spending money, money, and money.  Nothing changes.  APS.  Always Pushing Shit.

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Last Monday, we went to the Central Office to meet with some people who could make things happen, but lo and behold!  Guess what?  One-thirty Trinity Avenue was virtually empty.  Yes, virtually empty.  The inhabitants were at The Twelve.

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We see that Arlanta’s new and already embattled superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, wants to abolish a large number of Music, Art, and P. E. positions but she still wants to have a three-day conference for 200 APS Central Office educrats at the swanky Twelve Hotel in the elite and private Atlantic Station.  APS’s administrative costs per student already overwhelmingly dwarf what other school systems pay out per student.  And for what?  Very underwhelming results, especially when you deduct the systematic cheating on the standardized tests and the systematic cheating on the scoring of grades and the systematic cheating of changing of permanent record grades, the latter of which is more pernicious and egregious than cheating on standardized tests.

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SSDS.  Same Shit.  Different Superintendent.

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Teaching: A Battered & Beleaguered Profession

 

Note: Originally I intended to write a rather long and detailed article on some outrageous happenings in the school systems in McDuffie, Murray, and Montgomery Counties in Georgia, but as I was getting started on this article, I realized that more needed to be said about how teachers in general were being professionally battered on a regular basis throughout Georgia and the United States, resulting in a beleaguered, disheartened, disenchanted, and disemboweled profession which no longer resembles anything like a true profession but more like forced labor in some Gulag-type camp. Since teachers are so often living on the edge and are afraid to speak out for their jobs’ sake, I wanted to lend my voice as an advocate for their cause. I will publish each chapter on one of my many personal blogs, as Mr. Haynes and I initially composed The MACE Manifesto: The Politically Incorrect, Irreverent, and Scatological Examination of What is Wrong with American Public Education (Big Daddy Publishers, 2014, 615 pages) on http://www.TheMACEManifesto.com. This book (hopefully not near a large as The MACE Manifesto) will be published a chapter at a time on http://www.GeorgiaTeachersSpeakOut.com.

 

The Crushing of Super Star Teachers and the Implosion of Public Schooling in America: A Case Study of Three Rural School Systems in Georgia (McDuffie, Murray, and Montgomery Counties).

Chapter One

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

     In the last three months, I have written around 20 articles, many of which have dealt with some smaller school systems in Georgia, in addition to the “regular suspects” like Atlanta City, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Fulton County, et al. It is actually somewhat shocking to witness and to hear of some of the outrageous actions by the superintendents and administrators in some of these smaller school systems which historically have been more genteel on the personal interaction levels. But, what I have been witnessing particularly in three fairly small school systems (one or two high schools) in Georgia in disheartening.

We have been focusing mainly on Murray County which lies about 25 miles east of Dalton and borders the state of Tennessee on the north. In fact, many of the teachers in Murray County reside in Tennessee but travel to Murray County to work because Georgia teachers make more money than Tennessee teacher. In March of this year, we received some calls from teachers from McDuffie County which lies around two hours east of Atlanta on Interstate 20 and only about 45 minutes to an hour west of the city of Augusta. It has one high school, Thomson High. These teachers were complaining about the awful teaching conditions at Thomson High School. Montgomery County (or “MoCo,” as some of the locals call this area) is located further south, about one and one-half hours southeast of Macon on Interstate 16 near “Vidalia Sweet Onion” country.

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Mr. Neil Osbon with two recent Thomson High graduates.

     These three counties are by no means the only small school systems in Georgia or in America which have, in our opinion, extremely poor leadership and operate on a very dysfunctional level and ignore clear Statutory Law in Georgia on how to govern a school system. I am sure that these characteristics are widespread. In fact, I was just talking to one of our MACE teachers the other day on the telephone about the Hart County School System or the Hart Charter School System, as they evidently like now to be called. This school system is now a charter school system, as many either already are (like Fulton County) or are moving in that direction (like Atlanta City, DeKalb County, Clayton County, and others). But, if a school system goes the charter route, it has certain responsibilities that it has to live up to in meeting its obligation under the performance contract. The state allows the school system to get out from under the “burden” of certain state mandates, but there are responsibilities that the school system theoretically has to meet. (I say “theoretically” because Gwinnett County is under a “performance” contract-type model, but it did NOT meet its obligations to perform and the State of Georgia let Gwinnett County off the hook. But, this is a game that is now being played throughout America. Billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad who are the Great Educational Interlopers, thinking that since that they were good in the business world that they can lend their “geniuses” to public education. These two men apparently do not really like public schooling and want to make all public schools in Georgia “charter schools” which can be run by private company. This privatization of public schools is already in the beginning stages in Georgia with Governor Nathan Deal’s “Education Plan.” See a previous article on this site about “pickling” Deal’s plan.)

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Picketing against Governor ISIS.  

     School systems like Hart County which choose to go the charter school rout are required to have a School System Council and a School Council at each school. Representation from parents, teachers, and the business community must be represented on these School Councils. It appears that the system-wide School Council in Hart County only met once this past school year, just to receive training. But good is the training if the School System Council never meets? By the way, the superintendent erstwhile from Hart County, Jerry Bell, has moved on to Haralson County. Bell was inducted into Superintendent Clowns of America two or three years ago. But, the superintendent revolver door keeps swinging. This reminds me of William A. Hunter, who also has recently been inducted into Superintendent Clowns of America, of the Polk County School System here in Georgia. It appears that he left two other superintendents stints in Georgia (McIntosh and Brantley Counties) not under the most favorable conditions. Recently, a teacher from Polk County sent us this description of the William A. Hunter Administration in that county: “Nepotism, favoritism, retaliation, bullying, no-bid contracts, hiring without posting jobs, fraternization, Apple/PSD conflict of interest, God knows what else. Not to mention that he was FIRED from his last two jobs. Mass exodus of good, long time teachers. Culture of fear and intimidation.” We doubt that Mr. Hunter was fired but that he and the school boards (or at least one of them) just “mutually agreed” to depart ways. But, we do hear today that one of the illustrious teachers of Polk County just resigned apparently due to the frustration of dealing with the Hunter Administration. She had been Teacher of the Year as well as STAR Teacher. So sad.

I remember getting a call from a very effective teacher in Elbert County who had been treated brusquely and had been terminated. His termination process and hearing had been fraught with a number of irregularities, and the school system just refused to turn over information, even though the requests for this public information had been requested under the Georgia Open Records Law. MACE had not represented this teacher in this matter. He came to us after he had been terminated and his case had already been adjudicated at the state level. We still made our presence know. We spoke in an ad hoc manner at one of the school board meetings in Elberton, after the board chairman, Mr. Ben Baker (who seems to pretty much run the show over in the Elbert County School System) asked me what was going on, as several picketers and I held signs in the board meeting. We ended up in the newspaper, The Elberton Star. What was this teacher’s big sin? He spoke out on some matters. He might have been a bit hard-headed about some matters but what great teachers are not a bit head-strong. In fact, most of them are. His so-called “offense” was certainly not of the nature that he should have been fired. In fact, he was a good friend of the previous superintendent. Oops! That might have been the problem! Teachers are no longer expected to speak out, no matter how egregious the conditions are. Teachers today are expected to just grin and bear it and keep their mouths shut.

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In Elbert County, picketing against school board chairman, Ben Baker.

     In next the next chapter or two, we will address why good, effective (yes, “super star”) teachers are being kicked to the curb. They are told that they are going to be terminated, so that they eventually negotiate with the school board (via the school board’s attorney and superintendent/executive secretary) to continue to get paid for the remainder of the school term.   Some just resign on their own, in hopes of finding better teaching conditions in another school system. There are indeed some better school systems which treat teachers more respectfully than the school systems which we will examine in this book.  In Murray County, the Vickie Reed Administration kicked a very talented young teacher, Justin Frazier, to the curb. His coached the North Murray High School Quiz Bowl team to a Second Place finish in the state competition. The children loved and still love this teacher. In McDuffie County, Superintendent Mychele Rhodes got rid of this year’s STAR Teacher, Neil Osbon.   Again, the children adored and still adore this man. In his first four or five years in McDuffie County, Mr. Osbon won a system-wide Teacher of the Year contest twice (sponsored by Walmart and chosen by students and their parents). Had Walmart continued this program, no doubt that Mr. Osbon would have won this honor several more times. He was selected as an Honor Educator on several occasions (including this year). What was his big “offense”? They claimed some bullshit about using teaching “rubrics,” but I am sure that it was because he confronted the administration about a lack of discipline at Thomson High. Forcing a great teacher like Neil Osbon to deal with cookie-cutter teaching methods like “rubrics” is like the Chicago Bulls terminating Michael Jordan’s contract because he “inappropriately” stuck out his tongue while doing a 360 windmill dunk! It is all about control and shutting the mouths of teachers! By the way, after Mr. Osbon was forced out of the classroom during the middle of the year, a gun was reportedly taken from a student during school-wide testing at Thomson High School. There apparently were rumors of other guns. The administration did not call off the testing and shut down the school.

Brad Lord, the Teacher of the Year in Montgomery County for the 2014-2015 school year (he had also been STAR Teacher at East Laurens High School) was, like Mr. Frazier and Mr. Osbon, illegally (more on the illegality later) forced out of his regular classroom by Superintendent Randy Rodgers. The reason for this is comical, if not so sick. He was apparently the victim of a verbal assault by a teacher/coach, and yet he is the one who was administratively removed (in contravention to the Georgia Statutory Code) from his regular classroom. Of course, the teacher/coach was husband to the principal who jumped straight from the classroom to the principal job a couple of years ago without any administrative experience. The heartfelt expressions from Mr. Lord’s students are overwhelming, as they are from the students of Mr. Frazier and Mr. Osbon. The students and parents in these three counties (McDuffie, Murray, and Montgomery) blew up social media for these teachers. But, the superintendents in these counties have remained cold as a banker’s heart. They just turned deaf ears. Some gave out loads of dissimulation. Some administrators took to having meetings at the schools to try to quell the consternation or they (or their devoted acolytes) went on social media (like Topix) to anonymously and cowardly smear and libel. More on this – particularly in Murray County – in another chapter.

This is enough right now. Stay tuned for more and McDuffie, Murray, and Montgomery Counties…as well as other school systems in Georgia and throughout the country. Our mantra at MACE is and always has been (for 20 years now) this: You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions. Don’t wait until it’s too late to join MACE.

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Georgia Superintendents, Mychele Rhodes (McDuffie County), Vickie Reed (Murray County), Randy Rodgers (Montgomery County), and William A. Hunter (Polk County) Have Been Inducted into Superintendent Clowns of America. Atlanta’s Superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, is on Deck!

BREAKING NEWS: Four new Georgia superintendents, Mychele Rhodes (McDuffie County), Vickie Reed (Murray County), Randy Rodgers (Montgomery County), and William A. Hunter (Polk County) have been inducted into Superintendent Clowns of America.  Atlanta’s Meria Carstarphen is on deck to be inducted.  Send your nominations to http://www.superintendentclownsofamerica.wordpress.com.

Randy Rodgers, Montgomery County

Randy Rodgers, Superintendent of Montgomery County, Georgia

https://superintendentclownsofamerica.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/sca-has-named-five-superintendent-clowns-so-far/

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The MACE Lion Backs Down the Bullying Administrative Crocodiles! LOL!

These little small-minded, petty, and abusive crocs are so scary to teachers when they suddenly and without warning bite teachers in the ass.  But when the Roaring Lion (MACE) shows up, they just slink back into the swamp!  LOL!  This is an accurate visual of what happens! When you mention “MACE,” these picayunish and mean-spirited administrators listen.  We tip our hats to the few good administrators who are still out there.

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MACE Pickets Atlanta’s Superintendent, Meria Carstarphen, Stating, “Send Carstarphen Back to Texas!”

Last week, MACE picketed Meria Carstarphen, the superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools.  We have often said that she arrived in town with metaphorical rope burns around her neck from Austin, Texas.  She apparently was not too popular there also.  We don’t see any substative improvement in in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS).  Principals are continuing to put pressure on teachers to give students grade that they have not earned.  Isn’t this too “systematic cheating”?  The student discipline is out of control.  The customer service is so low that you have to scrape it up like silly putty.  What has changed?  More of the same.  SSDS.  Same Shit.  Different Superintendent.

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Hey Michael Thurmond, You are the Interim Superintendent of the DeKalb County School System. Abide by the Georgia Statutory Law and Quit Acting Like a Thug!

The facile interim superintendent and former State Senator, Michael Thurmond, should try to learn something about the Georgia Statutes when it comes to the due process rights of teachers.  After all, he is an attorney.  Donnether Taylor should be back in the classroom now.  Her rights under OCGA 20-2-940(g) have been egregiously violated even up unto this day.  MACE has been apprising your administration of this flagrant violation.  MACE picketed at Redan Middle School to bring more attention to this flagrant violation of the due process statute.

Mr. Thurmond, get it right or get out!  As I stated on Channel 2 last night, DeKalb County is a “thug” school system.

http://m.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/teacher-remains-out-classroom-despite-being-exoner/nmGzt/

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Cheating is Rampant in our Schools!

Cheating is Rampant in our Schools!

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School administrators have their heads up their asses when it comes to student-initiated cheating.  But, so often these days, the administrators themselves initiate and perpetrate the cheating, as brought out in the AJC article, the link of which is provided below.

     I see that the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is highlighting an Atlanta school principal for changing permanent record grades. Really? Well, it happens virtually every day in Georgia! It’s the new normal. And, if a teacher complains, well, then, the teacher is booted out the door. You have to keep those parents happy.   You can’t send the kids home with a “F” on their report cards! Why…what are you thinking?

http://www.ajc.com/news/news/local-education/atlanta-school-principal-investigated-for-grade-ch/nmFqc/

I just wrote an article the other day about grade changing. This is epidemic. Not just in the Atlanta Public Schools (APS). Administrators never want the students to get the failing grade that they earn because they refuse to do any academic work. These administrators demand that the teachers just change the grade to a passing grade. This is more egregious than cheating on a standardized test because this is a permanent record grade. This was the issue when we picketed at Druid Hills Middle School the other day. The APS Cheating Scandal was just the tip of the iceberg on cheating, especially in the large urban school systems. Across the board cheating is rampant. MACE has been dead-on on this issue for two decades.

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“Fuck You, Bitch! Get Your Ass Out of My Face, Bitch!” What Kind of Rubric Solves this Daily Misconduct, Especially when the Spineless and Lazy Administrators Do Nothing? I Call this Management by Watermelons (MBW).

“Fuck You, Bitch! Get Your Ass Out of My Face, Bitch!” What Kind of Rubric Solves this Daily Misconduct, Especially when the Spineless and Lazy Administrators Do Nothing? I Call this Management by Watermelons (MBW).

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

MACE - JT meaning business

As we write repeatedly in The MACE Manifesto: The Politically Incorrect, Irreverent, and Scatological Examination of What is Wrong with American Public Education (Big Daddy Publishers, 2014, 615 pages), our public urban schools are a wasteland. They are war zone schools. Discipline is essentially a foreign concept. Students curse and assault (and occasionally batter) their teachers with virtual impunity. Yet, the educational nitwits and EDAs (Educational Dumb Asses) are acting like the emperor is not naked. They think that this unconscionable condition in these schools can be managed by lofty objectives and crazy-ass rubrics.

Watermelon Lion

Management by Watermelons

I remember taking my first administrative course at the University of Georgia in the spring of 1980. I was still teaching and had accepted an assistantship at the University in the Department of Social Science Education to work on my doctorate. Later that summer I had changed my mind about being a professor of education and knew that I wanted to be a practitioner rather than a theoretician. So, I accepted a better paying graduate assistantship at UGA’s Department of Educational Administration and Field Services. The plan was to become a superintendent of schools one day, and that plan could have easily played out…if I had ever demonstrated that I would kiss ass on a regular basis and eat a little proverbial dodo. I refused, however, to eat it in even capsule form. I digress. Let’s get back to that first course. We used a very thick and erudite-looking textbook in this Introduction to Administration class. The book was assiduously tied to the management theory of the time called “Management by Objectives.” It was bullshit, pure and simple. I knew bullshit when I saw it even back then. This notion of “management by objectives” attempted to treat leadership and teaching as a science. That sounds good, but it just does not smack with reality.

I compare this “management by objectives” to a store manager at a Walmart working diligently to raise his sales at his particular store. He does well, but he still can’t make the sales to jump precipitously because his store is located in a very economically depressed location. He even put some workers out on the street waving signs and offering free coffee inside his Walmart. It worked a bit, but there were no measureable increases in the economic ledger of the store. But, his friend who had been recruited with this manager and had gone through the same training as he had was having an even more difficulties with sales. He did everything that he had been taught at the Kellogg Graduate School of Management where he earned his MBA, but there were things happening at his store that were frustrating sales on a daily basis. His products kept jumping off the shelves – quite inexplicably and randomly. His “management by objectives” [or TKES training] did not prepare him for this phenomenon. It all started with the bars of soaps just jumping off the shelves into the aisles. Well, this was inconvenient but did not cause too much mess on the floor once one of the workers retrieved the bars of soap and were put back on the shelves. But, later it was a lamp problem. The lamps kept jumping off the shelves and busted on the floors. Glass was strewn everywhere. Then it was the eggs. Nearly every carton of eggs ended up having broken egss in it – and the mess had to be cleaned up and the eggs had to be replaced. On a few occasions, the bicycles which were placed up high on the racks came tumbling down. Several customers were hurt and lawsuits ensued. This poor manager had to deal with insurance companies and had to keep explaining why his sales were stagnant. What I think took the cake was the watermelons, especially those sweet melons that were so popular during the summer months. Those damn melons kept jumping off the shelves in the produce section and burst all over the floors. Customers were slipping down and busted their asses. One older lady landed on her head and the ambulance came and took her to the emergency room.

This incident with the older lady landed on the front page of the local newspaper and was the lead story on two television stations on 11:00 PM news. No one wanted to shop at this store anymore. But, this man’s regional supervisor didn’t want to hear any excuses. His mantra was, “Every store can sell.” He mandate to this young manager was to increase the sales production or admit his failure and resign…or be fired. He didn’t want to hear anything about those bicycles and watermelons jumping off the shelves.

This story may seem silly but this is exactly what is going on in our public schools today. Exactly. The students are allowed to defy the teachers, verbally assault them, cause all kind of disruption in each class, and berate and batter other students and sometimes the teachers. But, the “Regional Managers” (Educational Dumb Asses/Superintendents) don’t want to hear anything about this. If you send the defiant and disruptive student to the office, the student is sent back to the room with no punishment and the teacher is actually written up for reporting it. This is wild, but this is what is happening in our schools. The other day, a teacher from Price Middle School in Atlanta told me that one young lady keep calling her a “bitch” in the most derogative way on a daily basis in front of the other students. “Fuck you, bitch” is par for the course. Price is the school where you had a shooting not long ago. I was told by a North Clayton Middle School teacher that a fellow teacher (and coach) reported to him that he was trying to get a student to be quiet in class but the student blurted out in front of everyone that he was not going to stop talking, In fact, this teacher reports that the teacher/coach reported to him that the student further told him, “Fuck you! I fucked your mama last night and I ate her pussy. What are you going to do about that?” The teacher/coach apparently sent the student to the assistant principal who apparently sent the student right back to the classroom. When the teacher/coach confronted the assistant principal after class about the situation, we were told that the assistant principal said, “I couldn’t do anything but laugh when I saw that referral” (or words to that effect).

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The Thomson High School students have fought back the kicking to the curb of their teacher, even producing t-shirts to express their displeasure with this inexplicable decision.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2xOb9xCX5o

The above video shows  Mr. Osbon  doing a Canterbury Tales Prologue Rap in his classroom, with one of his students lending a hand with the beat.  Great teachers are very creative with their students.

     The STAR Teacher (who has also been Honor Educator and Teacher of the Year on several occasions) at Thomson High School in McDuffie County apparently raised the ire of the administration in that county when he approached the administration about the terrible disciplinary conditions at the high school. This teacher is enormously popular with the students and the parents in McDuffie County, but this did not stop Superintendent Mychele Rhodes from forcing him out as a teacher. See, these administrators just don’t want hear anything about discipline problems. Nothing. This does not fit into their “management by objectives” matrix. They apparently just want the teachers to click their heels like good little Nazis. Recently, we heard that there was a gun discovered at the high school during standardized but there apparently was no lock down at the school. There is talk that they may have been two other guns at Thomson High School as well. The principal’s name is “Mr. Strong” but when it comes to discipline he acts like “Mr. Weak.” I just got through talking with a teacher in Houston County who tells us that a gun was discovered at the new Veterans High School, but they the powers in control have kept this quiet and did not even report it to the District Attorney’s Office. I understand that this story is about to break in the news down in Houston County.

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Mychele Rhodes was determined to get rid of one of McDuffie County’s most popular teachers, STAR Teacher Neil Osbon.

     There cannot be a more strange school system in the entire United States than the Murray County School System in Chatsworth, Georgia. What goes on under the watching eye of Fort Mountain is enough to raise the hair on your neck. It is a very nepotistic community with a couple of families to seem to control or have major influence in every fact of the county, including the school system. Superintendent Vickie Reed married into the influential Reed family (though now divorced). There is talk galore about a high school coach verbally assaulting and cursing a very popular teacher in the hallway at the school. This teacher (the victim of this alleged assault) was apparently forced out because of this confrontation. His Quiz Bowl team had finished Second Place in the State. He, like the STAR Teacher in McDuffie County, was suspended by the superintendent and placed in a “penalty box” for an interminable time which is in complete contravention of the State Code (OCGA 20-2-940[b]).

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cF6rBEeo7m8

Check out the above video of Mr. Justin Frazier doing impressions.  Who would not love to have had a talented teacher like Murray County’s  Frazier?  I would have loved to have had Mr. Frazier and Mr. Osbon as my teachers in high school.  But I have advised very popular teachers through the years, saying this:  “Be careful about being too popular with the students and the parents.  This makes the administration nervous.  They don’t like this.”  It is a shame that good, professional, effective, and popular teachers have to suffer this fate.

I have been contacted by dozens of Citizens from Murray County in the last couple of weeks. This morning I woke up to a private message on my Facebook, inquiring what Citizens of Murray County could do about their dismal situation. I pecked out this response on my cell phone. This advice could be used in any community where the school board members and superintendents seem to be non-responsive to the citizens. He is my response, with minor editing:

Go to the school board meetings. Try to get on the agenda to speak (they will probably fight this too). Show up with florescent-colored signs with bold letters, “Reed Must Go!” It’s hard for the media to ignore this. The younger folks, with their ever-present iPhones and Samsung cell phones, will capture the moment and have it all over social media. Go to the Voter Registration Office (it may be located within the Probate Judge’s Office or another office but it is somewhere in or near the courthouse). Find out which school board seats are open for the next election. Have planning sessions under the name of the “Murray Citizens Movement.” Decide on one candidate to support for each seat to run against the incumbents. At that point, I can help you. Your opponents will fight you tooth and nail. They will tear down your signs every night. Keep putting them back up! Use social media to catch them and to spread the word. The Murray Citizens Movement (MCM) will grow exponentially. You might even see Reed retire. But, you simply have to take back your county at the ballot box. Voter fraud can be a serious federal offense. The oligarchy running Murray County does want not the Feds to come in. But, if voter fraud does take place, this is when you file a complaint with the U. S. Justice Department. It takes courage to step up to the plate to take back your county. It is YOUR county, not their fiefdom. Be bold. Start having organizing meetings…initially in homes. But when you get 50 to 100 committed Citizens who are part of the Murray Citizens Movement (MCM), you might even want to meet at Edna’s Restaurant. LOL! Seriously. And proudly wear t-shirts emblazoned with this message, “Murray is a Republic, not a Kingdom!” — or some other appropriate and catchy slogan. I like this: “Because it’s OUR County.” The young people will really get into this. Personally, I see the school board seats are there for the plucking. But, no one will just give you power; you have to take it…legally and at the ballot box. Take care.

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Mr. Neil Osbon, the STAR Teacher at Thomson High School, may just run for the school board himself in McDuffie County.  We believe that he would win in a landslide victory!

     By the way, Mr. Justin Frazier (the talented teacher in the second YouTube video above) is not a member of MACE but he roundly endorses MACE.  He only found out about MACE after so much damage was done to him professionally.  I talked to Mr. Frazier the night before he resigned contingent upon a settlement agreement, but now it appears that the Murray County School System is intending  not live up to this agreement, claiming that Mr. Frazier has breached the agreement but the school system apparently provides no specificity.  Well Mr. Frazier can sue the Murray County Board of Education for breaching the agreement.  I always say, “Let the depositions be forthcoming!’  LOL!  Legally, this process is called “discovery.”

Attention Administrators:

If you want to dispute anything that I write here on my personal blog, just contact me. This forum is wide open to you. I will publish anything that you write (please limit it to 1,000 words) and submit to me for publication, as long as it is not libelous or totally tasteless. If you disagree with any of the content that I have written, you have the forum right here on Georgia Teachers Speak Out! I want to be eminently fair to everyone. © GTSO, 2015.

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Administrators Hate MACE!

Administrators Hate MACE!

“School Administrators for the most part hate MACE. It’s a big step for teachers to join MACE. It takes courage. But, MACE is the only union for teachers that administrators fear. MACE keeps your membership confidential until you want your administrators to know that you are an Associate of MACE. MACE protects and empowers Classroom Educators…one member at a time.

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Dr. John Trotter, MACE Chairman/CEO

“GAE and PAGE recruit student-teachers while they are still in college. MACE does not. School administrators do not mind teachers joining GAE and PAGE. In fact, they encourage teachers to join GAE and PAGE. After all, administrators also join GAE and PAGE. They cannot join MACE. MACE knows that for GAE and PAGE to have administrators as members creates real conflicts-of-interest. From the Jump Street, MACE knows for whom it is fighting and does not vacillate or equivocate one scintilla. If your administrator does not fear your association/union, then you are in the wrong one. They fear MACE” – John Trotter, EdD, JD, MACE Chairman of the Board.

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Teaching in Hell: Georgia’s Top Ten Axes of School System Evil…Fulton, Atlanta City, DeKalb, Clayton, Murray, McDuffie, Bibb, Elbert, Hart, & Gwinnett.

Teaching in Hell: Georgia’s Top Ten Axes of School System Evil…Fulton, Atlanta City, DeKalb, Clayton, Murray, McDuffie, Bibb, Elbert, Hart, & Gwinnett.

Editor’s Note:  As we write about each of these school systems, the newest material will be stacked on top of the old parts of this article.  For example, as we write about Clayton County in Part I, it will be on the top of the page.  (We still have much more to write on Clayco.  We’re just getting started.  These parts may take more than one day.)  We might hit upon Atlanta City or Hart County next, and this will appear at the top.  We have written the Introduction — and now we have ten school systems to focus on.  Heck, we may stretch it to the Top 15…or theTop 25!  These school systems are getting more and more evil as the days go by, and each day we hear several more war stories.  Last night at the MACE Office, we were meeting with an Atlanta City teacher and two more from Clayton County and Gainesville City.  In the old days, MACE focused on the tough urban areas because, quite frankly, we knew 20 years ago that these were the toughest teaching situation, but now we have EDAs (Educational Dumb Asses) spreading havoc and terror all over the State all under the guise of educating our children.  It is a travesty what has happened to public schooling in Georgia and throughout the nation.  You have so many ignorant, incompetent, and/or mean-spirited administrators acting like obedient acolytes to billionaires Bill Gates and Eli Broad, turning learning environments into test centers and gobbling up the ridiculous propaganda of a Common Core (aka Common Crap) curriculum.  As Mr. Haynes and I stated clearly in The MACE Manifesto (a 615 page tome about what is wrong with American Public Education, Big Daddy Publishers, 2014), “The Gates of Hall Have Prevailed Against the Local Control of Public Education!”  Citizens, parents, and teachers need to take back control of public education.  Mindless morons are running our public schools today!

By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

Clayton County: Luvenia Jackson’s New Atlanta, the Latest Thug School System!

Part II

     This is just a very small introduction to Part II which is on the Clayton County (or often referred to as “Clayco”) School System. I am sure that when superintendent Luvenia Jackson was teaching at Morrow Elementary School over 30 years ago (and I have known her this long) that she never imagined that she one day would be at the helm of this system and that it would now be compared to the Atlanta Public Schools. Yes, Clayco is the new Atlanta. In the old days, Clayco was considered a “red neck” county – and it pretty much was. But, these so-called “red necks” would at least adhere to the Georgia Statutory Code (OCGA 202-989.5 et seq.) when teachers filed a grievance. The administration would comply with the grievance law. Meetings would be set up, hearings would take place, and dispositions would be written. If the teacher wanted to appeal the decision, then an appeal would be filed, and an appropriate hearing would take place.

Luvenia Jackson, Clayco Superintendent

     Now, in the administration of Luvenia Jackson, when a teacher files a grievance against an administration, the grievance apparently falls into a dark, deep hole never to be heard from again. Of course, MACE does not let this matter die. MACE just hits the streets. MACE has had a clear policy from the beginning: When the administration acts like lawless thugs and essentially gives a finger to the Georgia Statutory Code, MACE just hits the streets, and there’s not a damn legal thing that Luvenia Jackson or the school system’s attorney, Winston Denmark, can do about MACE picketing in a Category One Free Speech Forum like a sidewalk or park. The U. S. Supreme Court has held that these fora have been Category One Free Speech Fora from time immemorial. We’ll see if the grievance filed against the assistant principal of North Clayton Middle School will be heard of if the New Atlanta will continue to act like a thuggish school system.

Eddie White picket - 1

On May 7, 2015, MACE hit the streets of south Clayton County, picketing Eddie White Academy principal, Angel McCord, and assistant principal, Clinton Buddy.

Eddie White picket - 2

In the old days, Clayton County was known for discipline. The teachers were supported, and the children were made to behave. Not anymore. Now “student discipline” is almost an oxymoron. It is out of control. I remember a few years ago, we were meeting with some teachers at the Clayton Alternative School. One teacher told us that a student had recently told her in front of the entire class, “Bitch, turn the fucking lights on and sit down!” Another spoke up, “I had a student to say to me the other day, ‘Woman, I will shit in your mouth.’” And these students said this at the alternative school! In the old days, these students would have been expelled quicker than you could say “New York City.” The discipline really went southward when that clown of a superintendent, Edmond Heatley, was hired from Chino Valley, California. MACE picketed the school board the night that the board was considering hiring him. MACE warned the school board. We were all over television that night. We were very public about opposing this terrible hiring. He was an awful superintendent. Well, the current superintendent is personally nicer, but the practices of the Luvenia Jackson Administration are just as pernicious as those of the old Edmond Heatley Administration.

When school systems become a certain size, they seem to think that they are exempt from the State’s grievance law (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.). I remember speaking at a Clayton County School Board meeting about 11 or 12 years ago. I was addressing the fact that the new superintendent from Minnesota, Barbara Pulliam, apparently did not think that her administration had to follow the state’s grievance law. We had to “baptize” her. The next day, her top assistant, the late Jean Hicks, called me to get the grievance process going. Today’s superintendent, Luvenia Jackson, apparently thinks that she and her administration are also exempted from abiding by this law. The discipline is out of control in Clayton County. I hear that the students ever have a web page somewhere called “Clayco Fights.” Can you imagine?

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Dr. Trotter is bringing home the heat at a Clayton County School Board meeting about 11 or 12 years ago.  Perhaps Luvenia Jackson needs to be metaphorically “baptized” by MACE. 

     We had a middle school teacher in Clayton County relate to us recently that his colleague, a teacher and coach who was not a member of MACE, came to him in almost tears. This teacher told us that the coach told him that he was trying to get a defiant and disruptive student to cease his misconduct in class, and this impertinent student told him: “I’m not going to stop talking. And fuck you. Last night I fucked your momma and ate her pussy too. Now what are you going to do about that?” The coach apparently sent the student to the assistant principal’s office, but the assistant principal apparently sent the student right back to the same classroom. When this teacher/coach confronted the assistant principal about this, according to this teacher/coach, the assistant principal stated, “When I read that office referral, I couldn’t do nothing but laugh.” Now this is the level (or, more accurately, the depth) of non-leadership in the Clayton County Public Schools.

We hear from a very reliable source (and actually have seen documents) that a major complaint was filed by one of Clayton County’s principals against one of the top level administrators in the school system. Besides sexual harassment issues in the complaint, there were other issues of magnitude in this scorching and detailed complaint. This complaint is pregnant with implications. Will Superintendent Luvenia Jackson keep hiding behind the Human Resource Director, Douglas (Little Dougie) Hendricks, or behind the school board attorney, Winston Denmark? Or, will she finally show some leadership? Do she not have any mettle when it comes to abiding by the Georgia Statutory Code? The law states that when a teacher files a complaint, “the complainant shall be entitled to be heard, to present relevant evidence, and to examine witnesses at each level” (OCGA 20-2-989.8[4]; emphases added).

Part I

Introduction

     Yesterday while I was eating a late lunch at the Fried Tomato Buffet in Newnan, I posted the above headline on my personal Facebook page and noted that I was in the process of writing “a rather extensive and detailed article.” I told my Facebook Friends that if they wanted to send me a private message about these school systems, to feel free to do so. I was overwhelmed! LOL! I was flooded with Friend Requests and private messages, especially from the good people of Murray County who seem to have a handle on the rather twisted “personality” of their school system but seem to be at odds at how to change it. Murray County’s school system has so many strange things that are apparently going on there that it borders on a “Hazzard County” image. A TV show could be made of this school system but the producers in Hollywood might think that it seems too unbelievable for a TV audience. But, this backwardness of the school system’s administration is not benign. How this system apparently treats its teachers is, in my opinion, unconscionable. These good citizens of Murray County appear to be so distraught and dispirited at how some of their most cherished and respected teachers are being treated. (Sounds a lot like the situation in McDuffie County where Superintendent Mychele Rhodes was forcing out the STAR teacher who was immensely popular there as well.) Vicki Reed is the superintendent in Murray County. She married into the Reed family which, from what I have gathered, is perhaps the wealthiest and most powerful family in Murray County.

Vicki Reed

Vicki Reed is the superintendent of Murray County School System.

     I have been very aware of Murray County for more than 30 years when I had been a school administer up in that part of the State. I even attended a high school football game in Chatsworth and witnessed the Murray County High School Indians beat arch rival (at least back then before North Murray High School was founded) Dalton High School. They Murray County people always seemed to love beating the “rich” Catamounts. Murray County was identified a few years ago by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as the most blue collar county in Georgia, based on some metrics they the AJC devised. I have even eaten at the famous Edna’s Restaurant in downtown Chatsworth which, from appearance, is not too unlike the fictitious downtown Mayberry of TV lore. I remember the days when the facile Dr. Mickey McNeil was the superintendent of schools in Murray County. Dr. McNeil taught and coached in DeKalb County in his earlier career before settling in the mountains and is now the Chairman of the Board of Assessors in Murray County. But, times have changed in public education, not just in Georgia but nationwide. I have been a teacher, coach, and administrator in several school systems in Georgia, starting off at the famed Southwest DeKalb High School, a noted football and track & field powerhouse through the years. Over 61 years ago, I was born into the “school business” in Columbus, Georgia where my father was also a teacher, coach, and administrators for more than 30 years. My father was offered a principal job in 1950 when he returned to Columbus after World War II. He had hurriedly finished up his Bachelor’s degree at Auburn in 1948 and earned his Master’s degree from Peabody/Vanderbilt in 1949. He made good use of the G. I. Bill, finishing Auburn in three years before he, my mother, and my older sister headed to Nashville to use his GI Bill at Peabody/Vanderbilt. After earning his Master’s degree, he taught and coached at a private school, having many illustrious characters on his basketball team, one of whom was Jesse Long, the founding President of the well-respected Greater Atlanta School (GAC). When he returned to his home in Columbus, Dr. William Henry Shaw offered the principal position to my father at Double Churches Road Elementary School. Back in 1950 hardly any teacher in the system had a Master’s degree. But, my father wisely turned this offer down because he still had a lot of teaching and coaching in his blood.

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If MACE is not afraid to go straight at the different governors and other politicians, do you think that MACE is afraid of any school superintendent in Georgia?  LOL!

My mother was a homemaker but when we as kids grew up, she too started working in the Muscogee County School District where she was initially a paraprofessional for my sister who taught First Grade at Waverly Terrace Elementary, located next door to one of Columbus’s oldest – if not the oldest – housing projects, Peabody Apartments. My older brother started off teaching and coaching in DeKalb County a few years before I did. After three years in DeKalb and at the tender age of 25, he became a head basketball coach at Martin College in Pulaski, Tennessee and later at Cleveland State in Cleveland, Tennessee where one of his teams was ranked #1 in the nation in a preseason JUCO basketball poll. He was Coach of the Year in both Tennessee Junior College basketball conferences and has been inducted into both the Martin College Athletic Hall of Fame and the Cleveland State Athletic Hall of Fame. Dan and his family later came back to Georgia where he was named the Georgia PTA’s Elementary Principal of the Year and has been inducted into Columbus State University’s Education Hall of Fame. He is now serving his second term on the Harris County Board of Education.

JT Atlanta Board AJC Photo

Dr. Trotter responding to the audience as it cheers him on as he addresses issues before the Atlanta Board of Education.  Photo by the AJC.

I could go on and on about my family’s involvement in public education in Georgia over the last 65 years. (I actually have scads of relatives on my sides of my sides of my family who were and still are Georgia public school educators, both teachers and administrators. Of course, I have represented teachers all over Georgia since 1988.) I come with a bit of educational experience, from the perspective of a parent, teacher, coach, administrator, teacher advocate, and a keen observer of what has been happening in public education in Georgia for decades. My academic training is in History, Education, and the Law. My colleague, Mr. Norreese Haynes, and I just published a 615 page tome entitled, The MACE Manifesto: The Politically Incorrect, Irreverent, and Scatological Examination of What is Wrong with American Public Education (Big Daddy Publishers, 2014). I am not just intemperately blowing off some irrational steam about these school systems which I call “axes” (the plural of “axis,” by the way) of school system evil. We think that how shabbily and in many case cases how illegally teachers are treated in these school systems is “evil.” To stress out a teacher so badly for non-meritorious reasons that the teacher has to take tranquilizers or deal with stroke-level blood pressure or deal with a worsening heart condition – and all of this work-related – well, I am sorry, this is just plain “evil.” Plus, it is stupid and counter-productive. You simply cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions, as we always say at MACE.  How can a teacher be a self-actualizing teacher, meeting the needs of his or her students, if a teacher’s personal needs are always being threatened by a petty, insecure, small-minded, mean-spirited, myopic, and abusive administrator? It makes no sense…except considering that these abusive-type administrators want to intimidate subordinates in order to consolidate their power.

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Norreese Haynes (L) and Dr. John Trotter (R) being interviewed by FOX-5 News about the  Atlanta Cheating Scandal.

     A few years ago, my aging father, at the urging of his former students and players, was inducted into the Jordan Vocational High School Athletic Hall of Fame. (This was the same night that one of my father’s best friends while growing up, Spec Richardson, was also inducted into the Jordan Athletic Hall of Fame. Spec had been a manager and trainer at the high school. He was a little too small to play sports. He did OK in his career though, becoming the General Manager of the Houston Astros and later the General Manager of the San Francisco Giants.) My late father was enormously respected by his students, teachers, and parents – and the People of Columbus in general – because he knew how to treat people. He was kind and respectful and he knew how not to tear down someone’s dignity. I think that the People of Columbus adored him more and more as he got older. I used to watch 70 year men regale at how they had gotten paddled by “Coach Trotter” or “Mr. Trotter.” They knew that he made them behave for their own good. They cherish the memories of a kind-hearted man who still made them behave. He supported his teachers to the hilt, and they adored him. My father knew what we at MACE adopted as our mantra from our inception in 1995: You cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.

An elderly Daniel D. Trotter, Sr. at the MACE Office where the conference room was named in his honor.  DDT was always a teacher’s advocate and treated his teachers with the utmost respect.

     The learning conditions in the Murray County School System seem to be at an all-time low. Teachers are apparently treated arbitrarily, capriciously, and with such contempt and are apparently seen as expendable objects to be discarded brusquely. The Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE), of which I am the Chairman/CEO, is the only union in Georgia for teachers teaching in tough situations. MACE does not do the little “cute” things for teachers that other unions/associations do. MACE doesn’t give teachers tote bags, calendars, or coffee mugs. MACE doesn’t put on Spelling Bee contests for students. MACE does one thing and does it better than any union in the country. MACE kicks ass.  MACE protects and empowers Classroom Educators…one member at a time. MACE devours administrators who abuse teachers. Often times, the faint-hearted teachers are afraid to join MACE. But, this is the very reason to join MACE. (By the way, MACE’s membership is completely confidential.)   When administrators hear the name “MACE,” they listen…and they pause. We have seen many administrators “get religion” when they find out that a teacher that they had been abusing was a MACE Member. It is actually funny to watch this phenomenon take place. And if the administrator “learns dumber” (as we call it), then MACE directs its full assault upon this administration. MACE shines the calcium light of truth upon the mess that may be occurring at the time. The eyes of MACE are now upon Murray County. I can assure you this. If you are a teacher and your principal or superintendent does not fear your union, then you are a member of the wrong union. MACE strictly employs legal tactics. MACE is the aggressive representation when you need it most.

nbc-41

Dr. Trotter being interviewed by Macon’s TV 41 in downtown Macon as MACE pickets the embattled superintendent. 

     Traditionally, the “tough situations” to teach in were in the metro and urban areas – and they still are. In fact, teaching in the urban areas is like teaching in war zones. Other unions simply cannot deal with this. Only MACE can go in there in full force and take on the shit (please pardon my language but this is simply apropos here) and protect and empower its members. Other unions may just throw their hands in the air or simply not return their members’ phone calls. But, in today’s times in public education, it seems that this “tough situation” descriptor has spread to school systems located in small counties like Murray, McDuffie, Elbert, and Hart. Our “Top Ten” is not an exhaustive list. We don’t claim infallibility in this article. We know that it is teaching in hell in systems like Richmond County, Dougherty County, Chatham County, and many other locations in Georgia. But, these ten Georgia school systems that we are going focus on this large article are the ones that popped into our minds based on our experiences with them. We hope that you enjoy the many parts of this article that will be forthcoming. This ends the Introduction. Have a good day! © GTSO, 2015.

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