Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Teachers in the State of Georgia May Get a Temporary Layoff from Work or in Other Words, They May Get Five Days of Furlough

According to my principal at our teachers’ meeting, this morning, the governor is considering laying off teachers for five days. There is the possibility that Governor Purdue will attempt to cut educational costs by cutting back the school year to required 185 days verses 190 days. This would allow the school systems in the state of Georgia to cut all their teachers’ salaries. In fact there is a possibility that all school employees in the state will be furloughed on top of the already cut in days of attendance for many 12 month employees.

What do you think? Is this a sensible solution to our state and school systems financial crisis?


Anonymous said...

I have a much better idea. Let's furlough the entire state Department of Education for 30 days and also have the administrative staff at all the county and city school systems take the 5 day furlough.

This ranks up there with the gas shortage day off. In a state with such low academic performance, it is idiotic and counter-productive to reduce the academic class time for the students.

This will surely get Georgia back in the national spotlight-and not in a good way. I am sure the national accreditation agencies would not see this as a positive move.

Ella Smith said...

Actually many systems are cutting back the actually number of days employees at the county office and data clerks, assistant principals, principals and other school administrative and other staff members work to start with. These furlough days will be on top of the cuts already for many of these employees.

Anonymous said...

Could we ask Kathy Cox to take a furlough - permanently?

Seriously, you want the teachers to take the brunt of this problem? What about all those administrators who make $100,000 for putting together power point presentations?

Cerebration said...

Teachers lose credibility in my book when they complain about furloughs. Real people every day lose their jobs completely - no income, no health insurance, etc. I think these regular privately employed folks would be very happy to have to only take 5 furlough days or a 2% pay cut. Think about how it sounds to others when teachers complain about losing 5 days' pay. Things ain't so cushy out in the business world - businesses can't simply raise taxes to pay their expenses. We're in a real recession - these aren't just "political" cutbacks.

If you want to know the actual research on the topic - furloughs are bad for morale. People actually end up happier if others get laid off and they keep their job at full pay and move on. Would you rather the Gov followed that research?

Be grateful.

Cerebration said...

In case you don't believe me --

"The big cost is to morale," said Truman Bewley, a Yale University economist who has studied furloughs. "Layoffs get the misery out the door – when you let someone go, they can't disrupt the workplace."

Cerebration said...

there's plenty more --

Furloughs (unpaid, forced vacation time) pretty much never make sense. They’re terrible for morale, and they don’t save much money. Roughly 40% to 60% of what a company spends on its employees isn’t salary or wages but rather benefits, workspace and other things that don’t stop costing during a furlough. Furthermore, many furloughed employees take their time away as an opportunity to look for a new job–increasing the chances that the best talent will depart. And morale and stress problems afflict the employees left behind, as they feel that they have to make up for the absent staffers. In some jobs, such as sales representative, the amount a worker brings into the business is more than the company can save with a furlough anyway.

themommy said...

Actually, when I speak to teachers about furloughs, pay cuts etc, I find quite the opposite. Teachers want to protect each other's jobs... extraordinarily so.

I find (as a group anyway) that the people who go into teaching tend to be followers not leaders and have a very hard time effectively advocating for themselves.

By the way, some states are looking at far more significant cuts in the days that teachers work, cuts that will impact student instruction because there will be fewer school days in the year.

Ella Smith said...

I am not excited about taking over a 2% pay cut but these are tough times and this may be necessary to help get our school systems in a better situation to serve our children.

She also said that Fulton currently only has a fourth of a month's of reserve cash (saved money) to run the school system in an emergency. I believe that all school systems are required to keep a few months of reserve money. I think this is an indication of the shape our school systems are in across the state. These are tough times. Hopefully this is a situation where Dekalb will have to cut at least 10-15% of its fat in administration services that need to be cut to allow the school system to better meet the financial needs of the classroom teachers and the students in the district.

Open+Transparent said...

themommy said...
"I find (as a group anyway) that the people who go into teaching tend to be followers not leaders and have a very hard time effectively advocating for themselves."

Wow, that's one of the most ridiculous, uninformed comments ever posted in the history of the internet. Complete and utter garbage.
Let me see you last two weeks as a middle school teacher in an urban area, and we'll talk you nincompoop.

One Fed Up Insider said...

The mommy...

If we were not leaders the kids would walk all over us daily... Have you ever stepped into a teachers shoes for one minute? If not I have a size 8.5's that you can have.

Cerebration said...

oh, please people, be nice. I know you're capable of it. TheMommy was only referring to teacher's as far as their ability to advocate for themselves. The teacher's union usually does it for them. They tend to just do as they are told by their union - they are too busy in the classroom to do much "lobbying" for their own benefit.

Anonymous said...

Let me just say that I know "themommy" is close enough to the whole educational process to know of what she speaks. She should be listened to and her words heeded.

The nasty comments are unfounded and rude - an apology is in order O&T.

Ella Smith said...

I respectfully disagree with themommy also. For the most part teachers stay very informed about educational issues in regards to how it affects them. If you were at the hearing of our Dekalb Delegation you would have seen that the majority of the individuals at this meeting voices their dislike to the delegation were educators or parents and citizens concerned about the educational interests. In fact, at the teachers meeting yesterday we were told to make sure we email from home and not use the school internet when emailing our representatives at the state and national level. I do agree with this recommendation but many teachers stay at school late in the afternoon working so even though it may look bad to email from a school email address I do believe that the representative may see that many of the emails are sent after school hours while teachers are still at work.

I agree that within the school system it is more difficult for teachers to stand up to their principals and county administration. This may be exactually what themommy was talking about. If they do I have seen their teaching situations become unbearable. There does appear to be a great deal of passive aggressive behavior toward teachers who stand up for themselves.

themommy said...

Opps.. sorry. I really love teachers and I didn't mean to offend. But as a parent and a policy wonk, I see so much "abuse" of teachers that it makes me frustrated.

Most teachers are fabulous leaders in their classrooms and often within their own schools. As teachers, they generally show great compassion not only for the students, but often for each other. But, as a profession, I feel (and obviously this is just my opinion) they are walked all over by policy makers.

What I want is for teachers to fight back in mass when policies are blatantly unfair -- I want them to complain loudly and effectively.

As Obama and his staff begin the march to health care reform... teachers should watch with great interest how Doctors participate in the process. Certainly the very powerful AMA will be representing them, but I fully expect (depending on what is proposed) to see doctors (not just AMA officers) publicly defending their profession. I expect that as patients we may receive communications asking us to advocate for certain things.

Doctors will be fighting mad something that I wish we would see more often and more publicly from the majority of teachers.

Anonymous said...

How many teachers do you see at the BOE meetings? How many teachers actually speak during the public comments period? I have not seen too many - it is usually the parents. Is it because they are afraid for their jobs that they don't speak out more?

I know teachers are frustrated at some of the decisions being made - they will tell you that privately - but that seems to be as far as it goes and I feel for them.

Teachers hold a tremendous responsibility in teaching our children. They are more important to our children then Dr. Lewis or any one person in the Central Office. They are the ones they know what the real issues and problems are in our classrooms - but yet, I see very little input requested from teachers. Everything seems to be directed from the "Central Office".


Kim Gokce said...

Personally, I think any post here that contains personal attacks or name calling of anyone (present or not) should be moderated. That's web-speak for they should be redacted/deleted.

This is a relatively open (and anonymous) forum and no one should hesitate to speak their mind for fear of personal attacks. The ad ad hominem does not help the community or the debate.

[down from soapbox]

I know for a fact that teachers keep their heads down for fear of their status in the system and their careers. Administration leaders can make the life of a teacher absolute hell if they decide they don't like them or see them as a trouble maker. BOE members say their doors are open to teachers at all times but teachers do not trust the members to keep their confidence.

Anyone who has been "inside" academic environments know that they harbors some of the biggest egos and the most political working environments around.

Teachers get no respect from administrations, from parents, and we wonder why students do not respect them in the classroom? The loss of teachers' authority in the classrooms is right at the top of the list of the reasons why I think public schools under perform.

Open+Transparent said...

the mommy, I apologize for the "nincompoop" crack. That was rude. But chill out Dunwoody Mom, you've made more than one comment that could be considered rude.

As a former teacher and coach, I'm overly defensive of good teachers. Have taught at every level, and it's so much tougher than any non-teacher would ever imagine. It's mentally and physically exhausting, especially middle school. High school can be challenging, but it takes a very special and incredibly patient person to teach at an overcrowded middle school.

Ella Smith said...

I totally do agree that many teachers are afraid to take on the administration at the county office in Dekalb County. In this case the teachers who do question the administration at the county office do have to be extremely careful. This is the reason to belong to a teachers association. The teachers' association do advocate for teachers on the county level and also at the state and federal level.

I agree that respect of teachers from the parents has definitely affected the classroom situation regarding discipline and academic support. This should be a partnership to help the children become all that they can be as adults.

Anonymous said...

Do you want to know why DCSS teachers do not talk at board meetings it was because we were told not to. At one of our many meetings. Our principal came back for their principals meeting with the superintendent and stated that we should not speak about the BOE meetings because the superintendent was embarrassed at a few of them.
I know exactly which ones he got embarrassed at and he should have been. (Cross Keys' High School).

Now if we want to speak, we have to go through our principal who has to take it to their area superintendent for approval. What a load of crap. They state that if we are having a problem with DCSS we need to take it up during Teacher Advisory Council. The only thing wrong with that is we never know when the meetings are and our "Teacher of the Year" does not ask us what we need to discuss.
Also, the TAC meetings are so well scripted that they do not leave much time for teachers to talk.

Yes it is hard for a teacher to talk to a school board member. I was at another meeting and was talking to a school board member, had nothing to do with school business what so ever and was told that I was not to speak to them.
The DCSS bloat does not want teachers to show the ugly side of the school system.

Ella Smith said...

Is that now unconstitutional to not allow you to speak at school board meetings if you live in Dekalb County? I am so sorry this happened to you. Let me know what you want to say and I will be glad to represent you. Is this why teacher's union representatives have not been around lately at school board meetings?

One Fed Up Insider said...

Thank you Ella for being a voice to us that can not have one.

Like anon said, it is hard and now with the new "restrictions" it's not worth it. When you have something to say and it could who knows how long to get the approval and by then the entire Jackson family will have all the spots filled.

Anonymous said...

It's been this way in DeKalb for a long, long time. Way before Crawford Lewis. Even though Crawford Lewis is a textbook example of someone who is smart, played the game, never spoke out of turn, kissed the ring, and rose up through the ranks.

Teachers are not supposed to speak at a BOE meeting or to BOE members. You can never question your principal or the Central Office.

If a teacher says anything critical, whether on point, constructive or not, you risk being "blackballed" for the rest of your career.

Sad to say, but most of DeKalb's Central Office administrators and asst. principals are those who have toed the party line (weirdly, there are many good principals who are happy just to be principals, not administrators). If you want to be a DCSS administrator, you need to be smart, but more importantly, you need to be politically savvy, and you need to never, ever be critical of the DCSS administration.

Rock the boat, and you're career is forver tainted. Tow the line, and you got a great chance at moving up.

Cerebration said...

I have also heard this about teachers - and you know me, I sure do feel bad when the superintendent gets embarrassed....In fact, I hope he doesn't take a look at the slideshows on the front page of this blog - we have received several more and have added them to the file. It's appalling how horrible the conditions are that some of our children endure - horrible! It will (and should) embarrass him and his SPLOST grabbers.

That said, the lady from the teacher's group ODE (I think that's correct - Org DeKalb Educators) usually addresses the board. I would think you could take issues to her and she would speak for you. I was VERY proud of the teacher who spoke up for Cross Keys - and if he ever experiences repercussions we will dog it here at the blog like pit bulls.

I do get tired of hearing from Ms. Jackson and her precocious children...she needs to leave some breathing room for others. Enough about DESA Puhleeze!

No Duh said...

The original post is about teachers taking a furlough for the good of the system.

I think they should and they should be damn proud to do it. Why?

They fought for Sonny so they could keep their "tenure" (O&T et. al. don't start playing symantics, you and I both know that teachers don't truly work "at will" and that they are the most protected employees in the state).

Now you have your tenure! Yea for you!

Teachers want respect. Many (most even) deserve it. But, because of the inabiliy of principals to fire bad apples (unless the bad apples are basically caught -- and videotaped -- molesting a child in the hallway during a class change!) they are tainting the whole profession. That isn't the taxpayers fault. It is the fault of all the teachers who voted for Sonny.

It's like the peanut butter. It's not Jiff's salmonela problem, but one bad supplier has tainted the whole industry. But, once you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas...

Open+Transparent said...

No Duh, the most protected employees in the state are GDOT administrators (GDOT has a massive staff), Gold Dome staff (which has grown exponentially the past decade), GA Lottery staff, GA Building Authority staff, and state university and college administrators.

Furlough school system administrators and all the entire Georgia Dept. of Education staff before teachers are furloughed. Lead by example.

I fully agree with you that it is too hard to dismiss underperforming teachers, but even more so in DeKalb. Fulton County principals have much more leeway than DK principals for getting rid of bad teachers.

Once again, it goes back to the DCSS Central Office. They aren't exactly pushing to make it easier for principals to push out teachers at the wrong end of the bell curve. Crawford lewis, Bob Moseley, etc. are more concerned about a teacher who makes waves and brings attention to dire needs.

Cere can remind us about the DCSS science teacher who writes about aliens from space on her blog.

Cerebration said...

Yes, that one's a "must read" for parents who would like biology teachers to stick to the topic - science.

Here's an excerpt -

ETs might not only be used to explain the disappearance of millions, but may also be one of the signs of Jesus’ imminent return. Is there any biblical support of this possibility? Well, I am glad that you asked! The Bible speaks of inhabitants of earth other than pure humans when it speaks of giants. The word “Giants” occurs 13 times in 11 verses in the Bible. Genesis 6:4 reads “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” In this case, “giant” comes from the Hebrew word “Nephilim” which comes from the root word “naphal” which means to fall, (literally or figuratively), cast (down, self, out), cease, die, divide (by lot), (let) fail, (cause to, let, make, ready to) fall (away, down, -en, -ing), fell, fugitive, have [inheritance], inferior, lying, overthrow, overwhelm, perish, (make to) rot, slay, smite out, and throw down. Although some religious scholars claim that the “sons of God” are descendants of Seth, that is not inline with the other references found in the Old Testament, where “sons of God” is speaking of angels. (Job 1:6, 2: 1, and 38:7). The book of Enoch reads in chapter 7 verses 1-2 “it happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful. And when the angels, the sons of heaven beheld them, they became enamored of them, saying to each other, come let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.” So in these verses we see that giants are the offspring of angels and human woman.

Here's the link to the full text. This essay "lives" as a document within this science teacher's website. The website she uses for student assignments, etc. It's under the tab, "Poetry" - where you can read her "psalms of praise" or click the link "signs of his coming and our departure" under "mini-sermons.
Main -

Our tax dollars hard at work!

Ella Smith said...

I do not see teacher's in Fulton who are not doing a good job being protected. I do see teacher's regularily who are not returning to school the next year.

I think that this is the principals responsibility to make sure teachers are affective. Now with the End of Course Tests administrators can actually see who is doing a good job and who is not doing a good job. I feel that underperforming teachers have less protection than they once did. DeKalb. Apparently Fulton County principals do have much more leeway than Dekalb County principals for getting rid of bad teachers.

Anonymous said...

As a new teacher in Dekalb County, (I've been here less than a year) I already feel as if I have no voice. My students complain about things and I tell them to tell their parents because I have no power to change things. I feel as if I have no space to complain about things that are necessary for my job without being frowned upon. I walked in the door this year and stepped up to the plate to do extra work. I assist at events, run multiple clubs and have already held many fundraisers for the school. Even with all of my work and team playing I sometimes don't feel like I have the back-up to guarantee my safety when trying to push for things that I need in my school.
In response to the furluoghs. My question is What is the mission of our organization? If we are trying to educate our youth then we need to be in school. Also class sizes should not be increased, which is what I heard was happening in our school district as well.

Cerebration said...

Welcome to the blog, new teacher. We're glad you have found us and feel free to express yourself here. I'm sorry to hear of your frustration though. I hope you won't give up on the teaching profession as many new teachers do. We need dedicated, energetic, kind teachers in our system. (In every system!)

Does anyone have a suggestion for this teacher? I can only say that maybe you have jumped in too deeply - and with both feet - and perhaps it would be a good idea to cut back a tad so that you don't burn yourself out. We need your energy in the classroom - let some of the extras go. Take care of yourself first - and the rest will follow. Focus on your students first and you can't go wrong.

Best of luck - and thanks for teaching our kids!

Cerebration said...

As far as administrative actions go - teachers sadly, seem to have little influence. I will say that the leaders from the Organization of DeKalb Educators try their best to advocate for teachers to the board. One of their reps (Nicole Duff ?) was making several of your points to the board last night. For example, she claimed that there are "strings" attached to the stimulus (ARRA) money. The strings involve retaining teachers and she says that DCSS is not paying attention to the "strings". She also made the point that unless and until ALL schools have art and music programs, should we consider spending one dime on a "special" school for the arts. I couldn't agree more. Maybe you could consider sharing your feelings with them.

Otherwise - bloggers - we need to keep the pressure on as far as the wonky decisions being made by the board - and Dr. Lewis. The administration costs are completely out of control. Dr. Lewis acts as if he's doing this amazing amount of cut-backs, however, the budget had already burgeoned over $20 million in the past two years under his leadership! ($17 million in additional administration costs alone.) His proposed cut-backs won't even take us back to the level of spending we had before he took office! And - our enrollments have dropped during this time. Construction has nothing to do with the admin budget - construction is funded by SPLOST. Pat Pope is responsible for that. Dr. Lewis is responsible for running the school system itself.

At last report, our salary and admin costs were 91% of our budget. Today's paper highlights Gwinnett's -- only 61.1% of their budget goes to salaries & benefits. In addition - they are up to 74% of the operating budget devoted to instruction.

Allow me to quote again from Dr. Lewis presentation in November (Comprehensive Restructuring Plan)

􀁻 General operations budget FY2007 ($820M)
􀁻 General operations budget FY2009 ($890M)
􀁻 91% of Budget for Salaries & Benefits
􀁻 Goal is 87% Salaries & Benefits
􀁻 State austerity cuts total $93 Million
􀁻 State 2% cut summer 2008 resulted in $10
Million cut to DCSS after FY2009 budget

Once again - check back on the amazing report about the DCSS spending bloat compiled by our bloggers, Kim and Ella. The facts is the facts -- and it's time to demand transparency and accountability regarding our school tax dollars.