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!
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 20–2-989.5 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.
On May 7, 2015, MACE hit the streets of south Clayton County, picketing Eddie White Academy principal, Angel McCord, and assistant principal, Clinton Buddy.
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?
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; emphases added).
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.