What Constitutes Good Schools; The Essential Inequities That Really Make A Difference; A School Disciplinary Czar In Georgia; And Gangsta School Systems Ignoring The Law.

 By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD

         All parents want their children in good schools.  My parents (pictured above with my sons, Robert Trotter and Matthew Trotter, and a great grandson, Canon Teasley) wanted my sister and brother and me in good schools, and we want our children and grandchildren in good schools.  Good schools have less to do with money, resources, and equipment and more to do with good teachers who are allowed to teach and who are supported in classroom discipline. 

           Money does not equate with successful schooling and learning.  Just look at all of the urban school systems in the country.  All.  I am not exaggerating.  All.  So, something more fundamental than money needs to be in place.

          The money inequities have been around from the beginning.  Georgia (and I presume other states as well) have struggled with the funding formula, trying to ameliorate the inequities.  In the early 1980s in Georgia, Dr. Michael LaMorte of the University of Georgia and a few others came up with the District Power Equalization (DPE) funding formula.  Formulas were imbedded into the Quality Basic Education (QBE) Act under the Joe Frank Harris Administration.  If you were around in the mid-1980s, you will recall that QBE was wafted up in every political discussion about public education in Georgia as if it were the newly-found holy grail in the public schooling process.  School systems were essentially “bribed” to switch to the Middle School “Concept,” a concept which has since been dropped like a hot potato when it comes to sending monies to the school systems.  It has, quite frankly, been a flop.

          I remember when Joe Martin brought the COP funding formula to the Atlanta Board of Education.  COP.  Certificate of Participation.  This brought in privatization to the funding.  Perhaps ole Joe was ahead of the curve.  It took Eli and Edyth Broad a few years to catch up with Joe on realizing the billions of dollars involved in public education.  Now the Broads “train” potential superintendents (and search firms — and Glenn Brock — go a’shoppin’ for a newbie supe in their superintendent supermarket) and eventually have their tentacles in large, urban school systems throughout the country.   It almost reminds of the BAE Systems (arms dealer) and its dealings with the Saudi Royal Family.  Ha.  Money galore!  When you start sloshing around in big money (in the hundreds of billions), well, the rules are a little different.

          Yes, I have seen these discussions about “inequities” for a while now.  In the 1950s in Georgia, we had the great ballyhoo over Minimum Foundation.  Then came Adequate Program of Education in Georgia (APEG).  Then came the almighty QBE.  Even ole Roy got into the act with the his A+ Program (which tinkered around the edges of QBE, removing due process for teachers…which Sonny later restored).   Now, don’t get me wrong…I think that Fran, Brooks, and Kelly are smart men.  I have interacted with them on a bit level through the years.  They are as capable of any other group of finding an “equitable” formula.  But, they are really looking at the wrong “inequities.”  It is this simple, guys.  Good school systems support their teachers.  They back up the teachers when it comes to establishing and maintaining order in the classroom.  They do not tolerate defiant and disruptive students to remain in the regular school environment if these students do not change their ways.  We know that no one can really do anything about who the parents are, and good school systems usually have good parents.  There is a fundamental inequity in this area, but good school systems simply do not countenance irate and irresponsible parents screaming, shouting, and bullying their children’s teachers.  What are we going to do about this “inequity”?

          Good school systems also do not allow for “moronic” (yes, I like this candid expression, Fran) administrators to bully teachers, making their lives miserable and running them off to other school systems.  Good school systems realize that you cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching conditions.  Good school systems are law-abiding.  Bad school systems are antinomian in nature.  They don’t give a rat’s behind what Title 20 of the Georgia State Code or the U. S. Constitution say.  They simply do not care.  That’s why at MACE we have very publicly and openly these last few years called the Atlanta Public Schools and the DeKalb County School System “gangsta school systems.”  Good school systems actually obey the grievance law for certificated employees in Georgia (OCGA 20-2-989.5 et seq.) or the sick leave law (OCGA 20-2-850) or duty free lunch for elementary school teachers (OCGA 20-2-218).  Systems like Atlanta and DeKalb often ignore these laws, and they take umbrage over the fact that we fight them over this 

          When overhauling Title 20, I would suggest that the Georgia General Assembly actually put some teeth into the grievance law for certified employees.  Penalize the school systems when they egregiously and flagrantly violate this law as they often and routinely do and create an automatic appeal process that works.  Don’t allow the Georgia Board of Education to simply dismiss an appeal because “we don’t have a record to examine.”  Of course you don’t because the gangsta school systems would never even hold a hearing.  Had APS been forced to obey this law, teachers would have had an avenue to air their complaints about the systematic cheating.  But, APS just routinely ignores this law.  This is one of the several reasons why MACE pickets administrators and/or school boards.  We have a simple formula at MACE:  Obey the law and conduct a rather private grievance hearing or we will embarrass the heck out of you with a very public (and often “candy ass”) picket.  It’s your choice.  This usually works.  Yes, the General Assembly should tighten up this grievance law.  The DeKalb School System shut down a grievance hearing in which I was representing a teacher in the Spring of 2009 who was about to testify about systematic cheating (and he had a list of witnesses).  I won’t mention any DeKalb employees responsible for shutting down this grievance because I feel confident that they were carrying out then-Superintendent Crawford Lewis’s wishes.  Shortly after this shut down (and the subsequent MACE pickets in which we had “systematic cheating” on our signs), the cheating scandal in DeKalb erupted for all to see…and, sadly, Crawford was indicted.

          One last thought for our General Assembly and Department of Education:  Establish an office of a School Disciplinary Czar in Georgia with a private, secure, and confidential hotline that teachers can call.  A staff of four or five investigators might make a dent on those “moronic” administrators who are bent on allowing defiant and disruptive students and their irate and irresponsible parents to abuse teachers.  I am sorry, but the PSC simply doesn’t seem to have the capacity nor the stomach for such investigations.  Sending complaints to the PSC over such matters almost invariably go unheeded.

          There are many “inequitable” factors which beset the Georgia school systems, and the most important ones have little to do with funding.  (c) MACE, August 26, 2011.

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3 Responses to What Constitutes Good Schools; The Essential Inequities That Really Make A Difference; A School Disciplinary Czar In Georgia; And Gangsta School Systems Ignoring The Law.

  1. Dr. Craig Spinks/ Augusta says:

    Our thought processes and conclusions are frighteningly similar.

    The ESSENTIAL QUESTION: Do we have enough school board attorneys, board chairpersons, and school superintendents with the moxey to face up to the discipline crisis which threatens to eviscerate many of our schools as centers for learning?

    Will Governor Deal follow the recommendations of Dr. Barge and his team which propose to strengthen school discipline on the grounds that disorder, disruption and disrespect inhibit severely the “de facto” opportunities of many of our kids, particularly our poor and minority youth, to learn. Will Nathan possess the courage to provide our poor and minority kids a FAIR DEAL in public education?

  2. Kelly Blacher says:

    Clayton County…I owe you all a huge apology for keeping quiet about the antics of Dr. Edmund Heatley. The man has damaged the psyche of so many administrators, principals and support staff within the Chino Valley Unified School District. The entire district had a chance to get rid of him and nobody, including myself wanted to take away the chance of “getting rid of him.” The head chopping and threats to principal’s, caused many of them to fear for their jobs.

    I’m not a teacher, nor an administrator, but I was “NOT” protected within the Chino Valley Unified School District. Rumors and accusations were followed up by the head of H/R speaking to my Principal and “NEVER” spoke to me. Never checked to see if I was okay and instructed my principal to keep me quiet and things would “go away.” It didn’t go away and my principal had absolutely “no backbone” to protect me from the handful of teachers/support staff who bullied me; harassed and sexually harassed me; tormented me and my every move. I was an Elementary School Library Instructional Aide. I did my job for my kids and parents, with full permission and approval by my superior.

    My principal came to me crying hysterically after one of Heatley’s visits. He begged me to help him “save his job.” He even asked me to quit the gym that I just joined. I and a handful of other teachers were able to reach our parents and bring them back onto the campus to help our students. We made giant strides to bridge the gap between home, school and community.

    I was harassed by a handful of staff members on a daily basis and expected to clean up their messes without letting them know what I had to do. I was told to “fly under the radar;” never question my accusor’s as to “why” they hated me so much, told who I could talk to and what I could say.

    I’ve heard that at the Principal meetings, Dr. Heatley would become a drill sargeant and slam his fists on the tables. My work was plagiarized by Dr. Heatley as his own. I may sound like an angry employee trying to get back at Dr. Heatley, which I am, but I can also assure you that I had an above average work ethic and evaluations.

    Many things happened to me on a daily basis and my boss would not say or do anything to protect me. He was too afraid that his teacher’s would file a grievance against him and he would lose his job.My principal’s hysterical breakdowns continued over the next couple of years. I was expected to clean up what others wouldn’t do. I was also expected to make my boss “shine” in the eyes of Dr. Heatley.

    In June 2008, I was called into my principal’s office and asked to speak with another employee. That employee claimed, “I was a racist against Hispanics.” My employer never said a word in my defence, nor start an investigation, as he should have. I took it upon myself to prove my innocence to this person and the one’s who were feeding her these lies. When confronted in front of a group of people, she told me, “I was just kidding,”

    When my new principal came on board in August 2008, I was told that everything would stay the same. Two weeks later, she banned me from continuing any of my parental involvement programs and didn’t want the Parent Room, that we had just dedicated in Spring of 08. I was locked off my campus and told to return my keys. The Assistant Superintendent was there when my Union Regional Rep., faced off with my new principal. They brought charges against me for not having my items off campus, yet wouldn’t give me a time that was conveniant for my husband and I to pack and move. Finally, my husband was able to get into see the Director of Risk Management. He was armed with all my doctor’s notes, itemized receipts and all the facts. R/M allowed us onto the campus for one full 8 hour day on the weekend.

    In 2008, my school won the Prestigious National Network of Partnership Schools Grant from Johns Hopkins University. The new principal took the money and deposted it, but threw the plaque in the bottom drawer of he desk where it sat until the school was closed in June 2010. Our parents and children were never told of what a prestigious award they had won.

    I was successful with every project I was assigned, not because I’m perfect, nor wanted the limelight…my work ethic was to go above and beyond to make change happen. My fate was handed down from Heatley.

    I went on disability with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Hypertension, Dysphagia, panic/anxiety attacks and a year later came down with Celiac Disease from the stress I was put under. I have just recently been diagnosed with a second Auto Immune Disease that was triggered by the sexual harassment/bullying/and have my legal rights blocked.

    I consider Dr. Heatley a “Dictator.” He wants to look good, but doesn’t want parents to be part of the process. If you empower the parents, you have to answer to others. He wanted our parents in a sealed box, sitting on one of his shelves.

    I spoke in front of our board and talked about what had been done to me. Only one board member asked a question; “What do you want us to do about it?” My answer today would have been, “Get some backbone, wake up and see what this man is all about. Various D.O. staff were told to resign or they would be fired. Heatley is known as “The Devil” by some. Oh, he refused to be present when my family and I spoke to the board.

    I have two Workman’s Compensation cases against my district and one of them, I was told I won. I tried for W/C in February 2009, but Heatley had hired his “high price” attorneys to cut down on the amount of litigation, so he could look good on paper. I have an attorney and I will take the District to court if necessary.

    When I got ready to go public with this information, I first spoke with a reporter from the local paper. She was so excited because 12 people had stepped up before me, but backed out at the last minute because they needed their jobs. Hey, I needed mine too, but I knew that with everything I was put through, I wouldn’t be able to work again.

    Heatley rules with intimidation and a Dictator mentality. In order to get him the Hell out of your district, you have to unite. Kids, parents, teacher, staff and board members. The Board works for the people and should be following what the people are asking.

    The same thing happened to our board…Heatley took over all the power and they had none. They were too afraid to go against him.

    Again, I want to apologize for not speaking up when he was trying to get a job in Clayton County. If I couldn’t be there to protect my kids and families, then we needed to get rid of him somehow/someway. He closed three of the lowest scoring schools to make his resume’ look positive. He also adds that he was responsible for the 2008 NNPS District Grant Award. I was co-founder of that event and he never lifted a finger to help, now did he attend. Oh, and watch out for funding he has to play with…the numbers don’t always add up.

    I don’t know how this man sleeps at night, but I have him in my “night terrors” every single night/day. Unite and fight to get him out, if that is what you want. Parents, students, Teacher’s, and Administrator’s must unite and not back down. Just like we tell our children about bully’s; “YOU MUST KEEP THE PRESSURE UP” and you have to go above his head.
    Keep records of everything and hard copies of inaccurate documents. I’m warning you from my own experiences.

    Kelly Blacher
    Ex-CVUSD Employee

  3. Kelly Blacher says:

    If you would like copies of any of my hard copies that prove what I listed above, please contact me at KBlacher@msn.com

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