By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
The media and the politicians and the educrats don’t want to deal with the reality of what is going on in the public schools. It is so much easier and convenient to just blame the teachers. They are lazy. They are not focused. They need more training and staff development. Ad infinitum. Ugh! Or, they just need more snoopervision and more scripted curriculum mandates. I once heard an irate parent at an Atlanta Board of Education meeting blurt out: “If the students aren’t learning, then it’s the teacher’s fault!”
This is not too far from what the media, the politicians, and the educrats think, say, and act upon. I actually saw Bill O’Reilly’s Talking Points on FOX News this week when he proclaimed that we are wasting the billions of dollars which are pumped into public education if we don’t deal with discipline and order in the classroom. This is what I have been saying for nearly 35 years and what MACE has posited from its very inception in 1995. (MACE is the acronym for the Metro Association of Classroom Educators, and MACE was founded as a Georgia teacher’s union or association in 1995. MACE actually represents teachers all over Georgia, not just in the Metro Atlanta area. MACE represents only classroom educators, not administrators or supervisors, thus eliminating any conflict-of-interest.)
Order is the first law of the Universe, and without an orderly and disciplined environment (which our failing schools fail to have), no significant learning will take place. Zilch. You can pour billions of dollars into the mix, but it will result in the same failure if discipline is not your first priority. Yes, first priority. The private schools and the successful public schools understand this and will not put up with even a thimble full of the mess that the educrats from the failing public schools see happening all day long. These educrats look at you as if you are an educational brute or a Vandal or a Viking or Atilla the Hun when you suggest that expecting an orderly and disciplined learning environment is desirable and essential for significant learning to take place. The educrats among the failing schools (the same schools for which QBE in Georgia and NCLB for the nation were established) have an inexplicably benign attitude toward students defying teachers, cursing teachers, disrupting classes, doing no school work but expecting passing grades, and essentially using the school institution as its social playground to engage in any nefarious enterprise. What do these educrats do? Blame the teachers. Pressure teachers to teach the tests. Employ not-s0-subtle cues to let the teachers clearly know that they expect systematic cheating on the standardized tests, if the teachers want to keep their jobs. You don’t think that this happens? Don’t be naive. Look at Houston. Look at Washington, D. C. Look at Atlanta. It is the failing school systems which are causing the good school systems to have to endure such indignities and inane and insufferable regulations which come from hopelessly flawed school reform measures like Georgia‘s Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) or the nation’s No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
I like the metaphor about the dentist whose practice is in an area where the patients come in to his or her office with an inordinate number of rotten teeth. Surely it is the dentist’s fault! The patients won’t brush their teeth or do any other preventive care, but the rotten teeth are the dentist’s fault.
We have some “rotten” kids who are being sent to school by some “rotten” parents. We can’t blame the teachers for this. Oh, but the media, the politicians, and the educrats do blame the teachers! This is balderdash and unconscionable and laughable, but sadly it is the case.
School systems are boondoggles for lawyers. A real treasure trove. I remember reading a legal bill (I have a copy of it) from the Greenberg Trauig (did I spell this correctly?) Law Firm submitted to the Clayton County Board of Education. Over $400.00 (415.00 or 450.00) per hour billing on researching on how to keep a person named John Trotter from attending the Clayton County Board of Education meetings. This board was “led” by Ericka Davis. Well, it didn’t work, and I am still around. In fact, I have had a few places to try to “ban” me. Ha! I am still kickin’ and this is still the United States, the land of the free. But, freedom isn’t free. Oh, by the way, Ericka Davis resigned under apparent duress from the school board not long after this episode with me. Other shameful escapades took place under her so-called “leadership.” Greenberg Trauig resigned shortly thereafter from doing legal work for the Clayton County Board of Education. I am a still a free man! Ha!
Atlanta Public Schools (and DeKalb too, by the way): Gangta School System(s). MACE has said this for years…out in the open…in the streets on picket signs, in articles on our website, on blogs, and on television.
“Gangsta School System!” On beautiful bright signs. Some motorists laughed. Some shook their heads. Many honked their horns in agreement. Central office minions of Beverly Hall (and Crawford Lewis) who were sent to the picket lines looked disconcerted and discombobulated. We knew that we were telling the truth, though we were part of a very select few who would openly call the school systems “gangsta.”
The Atlanta Public Schools (APS) is trying to let the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) do its work for them. New interim superintendent Erroll Davis, if I remember correctly, in as much said that the other day. He stated that if the teacher no longer holds a certificate, then firing him or her would be a moot point. Well, Mr. Davis, is following O.C.G.A. 20-2-940(g) a moot point? The teachers CANNOT be on “administrative leave” (as you called it) without having a hearing within ten (10) days of their removal from the classroom. Yes, ten days, folks.
I see that educrats want to talk about anything but the lack of discipline in our failing public schools. I have been saying for years that the largest problem in these schools is the lack of classroom discipline largely brought about by the woeful lack of support from the spineless administrators for the classroom educators when they attempt to establish classroom discipline. Classroom discipline cannot be established in these schools if the students perceive that the administrators refuse to support the teachers. Without establishing discipline in these schools, things will not and cannot change. I will go back to the MACE mantra which has never been successfully disputed (only ignored): You cannot have good learning conditions until your first have good teaching conditions.