WANTED: Real-Life Hero

What is standing between you and making a difference? Six Degrees of Separation.

I ran across a website called Transparency Now and began reading. The page I saw had an article about MASH – one of my favorite television shows — and Hawkeye Pierce, the show’s protagonist.

In one memorable quote on the show, Hawkeye had the best definition ever for “hero”: “Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, he’s somebody who’s tired enough and cold enough and hungry enough not to give a damn.”

Does that describe you? A schoolhouse hero is needed now! You are out there. Somewhere.

By withholding information and playing hide-and-seek with contracts, Atkinson and her merry board of co-conspirators (Gene Walker, et al) have created exactly the response they were hoping for. Lots of crying, shaking your fists at fate, covert whispering and running around in circles, like chickens with your heads cut off.

Is this how you want your students to remember you? Impotent. Ineffective. Insipid. Scared.

Or do you want to inspire your students? Demonstrate in real life Martin Luther King, Jr’s Principles of Nonviolence.

Employ Ghandi’s non-violent civil disobedience.

Are you familiar with the Six Degrees of Separation Theory?  It refers to the idea that everyone is, on average, approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. You are a few phone calls – NOT e-mail because it can be traced – away from organizing in a headline-grabbing, non-violent protest against the unconscionable treatment of DCSS teachers.

Today is May 1 – May Day! It is International Workers’ Day, a celebration of the international labor movement with organized street demonstrations and marches by working people and their labor unions throughout most of the world. May 1 is a national holiday in more than 80 countries. It is also celebrated unofficially in many other countries.

Clearly, David Schutten and ODE have sold out. GAE and PAGE are not riding to the rescue.

For those of you who did not have your contracts renewed, ask yourselves: What is the worst that can happen now? They can’t fire you twice.

If you contract was renewed, albeit with a significant salary cut, or if you still have hope that your contract might be renewed, consider this famous call-to-action from Martin Niemoller:

“First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew

“Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.

“Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.

“Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.”

Pick up your phone … you know what to do.

Standing Between You and Making a Difference: Six Degrees of Separation

About dekalbschoolwatch

Hosting a dialogue among parents, educators and community members focused on improving our schools and providing a quality, equitable education for each of our nearly 100,000 students. ~ "ipsa scientia potestas est" ~ "Knowledge itself is power"
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35 Responses to WANTED: Real-Life Hero

  1. Enough says:

    From your mouth to God’s ears! DeKalb teachers, stop paying your ODE dues today. It’s a waste of money. David Schutten protects Atkinson like she’s family. Shame, shame.

  2. Taxpayer says:

    I have to laugh. The predominately southern dekalb school board picks another puppet and we as taxpayers just say go ahead. Keep the jobs for the bloated administration office (friends and family). Screw the teachers and take away pay while raising the amount they have to pay for benefits. Eventually the teachers will leave for jobs that pay properly and appreciate them. Then all that will be left will be the school board. Then those bozos can teach the children and then nobody will get an education. Come on people, elect a competent board and clean house.

  3. Glad I left DCSS when I did says:
  4. Teacher says:

    Please, parents, teachers need your help!!!! Please call and write today. They won’t listen to teachers, but they will listen to you. At Chamblee, we’ve had at least 4 high-performing teachers in German and Engineering not receive contracts. This looks like they want to remove those programs. How can you be a 21st century school without engineering? Please make noise.

  5. HSTeacher says:

    Ok, this piece in the AJC says that there are corrections being sent, but in the comments they say that it’s not a change in amount, just wording. Can anyone parse this?

  6. Teacher says:

    @HSTeacher Yes, teachers received this letter today, but it essentially says the same thing that we already knew: The salary on your contract is the lowest that they will consider paying you and the board will probably vote for a higher salary. The real story, though, is that the salaries on the contract are lower than what the state gives to the county to pay teachers. So, it would be illegal for them to pocket the money they get from the state and not give it to teachers.

  7. HSTeacher says:

    Where can we see this year’s state schedule? I’m relatively new and the schedule I saw seemed to have a lower state salary than the one on my contract. It was such a sad day, with teachers crying and coaches tearing up and everyone wondering how they can squeeze the huge amount they want out of us for CCore next year with fewer staff and less pay.

  8. Backbone says:

    CYA – The REAL DCSS Motto
    With all of the chaos that’s ensued in the last 24 hours regarding contracts, last-minute letters informing teachers of pay cuts and deliberately misleading information coming from Ms. Atkinson’s office I have to say that it appears that our new superintendent is fitting into the DCSS quite nicely. Nothing is more “DCSS” than chaos, incompetency, duplicity, lack of integrity and “CYA-ing.”

    The memo that went out today to teachers “clarifying” mistakes made in teacher contracts added yet another layer of excrement to the already steaming pile we’ve been treading through since yesterday’s SNEAK ATTACK.

    Atkinson needs to take ownership of this mess and FIX IT! NOW! If this week ends with the level of ineptitude that it began with, I predict the DCSS will see more of the same embarrassingly unprofessional conduct coming from that office that we’ve seen over the past 5 years.

  9. Had It! says:

    I think it’s clear to even the casual observer that the DeKalb County School System has, at best, a questionable reputation where ethics are concerned and so none of us should be at all surprised by this week’s events. Money management is an especially weak area for the DCSS and the BOE.
    Remember the $400,000+ field trip back in 2010? Here’s a reminder… http://dekalbschoolwatch.blogspot.com/2010/02/americas-choice-sucking-up-stimulus.html

    That said, I have a question…

    Is it me, or is it completely unforgivable for the DCSS to hold $$$ – 2 months worth – that belongs to DeKalb teachers, over the summer? That $$$ has already been earned! We are NOT 12 month employees; we are NOT paid for June and July. Why is it then, that we must WAIT for the DCSS to MAIL us OUR OWN MONEY?! Could it be that the DCSS wants to make INTEREST on our money rather than allowing US to make the interest?

    16,000+ teachers are FORCED to GIVE the DCSS an INTEREST FREE LOAN every single summer. We are given NO CHOICE in the matter. This is NOT standard practice throughout the nation. I want my money and I want it in my last paycheck. I earned it and it’s MINE.
    I’ll go make the interest on it….NOT the DCSS. They have enough of our money.

    Those that wish to have the county send them a check over the summer can do so but as an ADULT I am more than capable of handling my own finances and RESENT the county holding my $$$ like a parent handing me my allowance.

    In this economy, we ALL need as much control and ACCESS to our own money as possible. There is no other explanation for this practice other than GREED…and it needs to end…TODAY!

    Hey, Mr. Schutten! Why don’t YOU chime in on this? You represent us? PROVE IT!

    To my fellow teachers-let’s watch and see what happens. No action? No results? Drop your ODE membership. That’ll get the ODE’s attention.

  10. water not kool-aid says:

    6.25? is that not the same as 5 furlough days for 10 month staff, 10 furlough days for 12 month staff; the same as now.

  11. water not kool-aid says:

    isn’t staffing up to the principals now?

  12. Anonymous says:

    Go to Marietta City School salary 2011/2012-State minimum is listed on their schedule. DeKalb salary schedule pays below State minimum to teachers with 8, 9 and 10 years of work. Since those teachers receive supplement to match the minimum, nothing can be done. It is reflection of salary compression and future of DeKalb teachers, who are going to be paid minimum required.

  13. Anonymous says:

    We are going back to the salary schedule from 2001/2002 School year for some teachers and 2005/2006 for others. Notice the new 186 day school year for teachers is another permanent salary cut.

  14. Atlanta Media Guy says:

    This will most likely create a delay. However, Cointa will be the key. Get ready folks it is going to get interesting. All this while Dr. Atkinson keeps the system eh er excuse me, district afloat!

  15. Hero says:

    Here is a great way to recognize a hero in your schools. DeKalb is full of them http://www.doe.k12.ga.us/External-Affairs-and-Policy/communications/Pages/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?pid=35

  16. water not kool-aid says:

    But Hero, Ms. Phillips was not in the classroom. She has no value as the cafeteria lady. (SARCASM is included)
    Seriously, I thought this was wonderful that Dr. Barge remembered a person who impacted his life and made a difference in children’s lives. Who knows, Ms. Phillips may have been related to someone when she got her job, and she did her job so perfect that a student remembered her years later! Kids want to learn, and they could care less about friends and family as long as they are treated fairly and they are taught! Dr. BARGe was taught how to treat others by interacting with this lady daily.

    Congratulations Ms. Phillips on such a wonderful reward ( and having the award named for her).

  17. Had It! says:

    Dekalb-enomics is a mysterious thing…who really knows?

  18. Enough says:

    I cancelled mine this afternoon. i can get legal coverage from PAGE for a lot less money…it’s the only tangible thing either of them provide.

  19. Concerned says:

    @Teacher – Chamblee is not the only school where the engineering teacher did not get a contract. Many (if not all) of the engineering teachers across the county received the same “delay” letter, including those that just returned from a World Robotics competition where students competed against schools from China, South America, and others all across the US. How can these teachers be tossed aside when STEM is a major focus for the entire state and nation? If you have a child in one of these programs, please ask what future they will have in Engineering.

  20. Concerned says:

    @Teacher – Chamblee is not the only school where the engineering teacher did not get a contract. Many (if not all) of the engineering teachers across the county received the same “delay” letter, including those that just returned from a World Robotics competition where students competed against schools from China, South America, and others all across the US. How can these teachers be tossed aside when STEM is a major focus for the entire state and nation? If you have a child in one of these programs, please ask what future they will have in Engineering.

  21. wiserthanmyself says:

    Up North and out West, they have at least a partial solution to many of our woes: it’s called a teachers’ union. I routinely forward news items from DCSS to friends who teach in these places and they are astounded. Not that unions have solved everything: there is a teeny tiny problem with the national economy, and unions don’t guarantee that teachers will be able to deliver qualtiy education without personal stress. But they do protect rights and many aspects of working conditions, like class size and teachers’ hours. “Clubs” like PAGE and ODE aim mainly to provide legal back-up in case a teacher is “wrongfully” treated–but if what’s going on isn’t wrongful, then what is?

  22. Actually, for teachers, it’s 6.25% of the 186 days we work, which equals 11.625 days. The 4 furlough days we had been getting the last few years are now a permanent fixture as our days have gone from 190 to the 186 we have currently. Combine these and it is like we are getting paid for 15.625 fewer days than we did prior to the economic meltdown…even though we are working now, equaling about 3 weeks worked without pay. Just imagine…. it’s their twisted way of cutting our pay without cutting law-mandated days for the kids.

  23. bettyandveronica1 says:

    Did they get their contracts? My kid is in German at KMS and she loves it. Looking forward to continuing the study of the language.

  24. Brook-Dekalb Parent says:

    I will be writing letters to Atkinson and BOE members expressing concern about the cuts to teacher salaries and the way this whole thing has been handled.

    With the economy as it is there must be cuts, but we should cut everywhere else as hard as we can before we cut teachers. There are a number of previous suggestions I like. Decrease central office staff–I’d like to see more DCSS teachers and fewer administrators. Cut the salaries of remaining central office staff more deeply than those of teachers (previous reviews show that Dekalb teachers are under-paid while central office staff is overpaid), Decrease or get rid of teaching coaches (move more into the classroom).

    Since I have kids in DCSS i hate to say it, but a teacher strike might be a good idea.

    I hope the DA moves rapidly on C-Lew. I still have some hope for Atkinson, she was handed a very difficult situation with paste administration incompetence/fraud and tanking income. The way these teacher letters has been handled is a mark against her though.

  25. Teacher Reader says:

    Teachers unions only protect teachers, they do nothing to improve the education that children receive. Unions do the same as “Clubs” like PAGE and ODE aim mainly to provide legal back.” What education needs is not unions, but a laser focus on learning.

  26. Anonymous says:

    I am thinking that Atkinson is being set up. First, she upset the parents with the calendar issue, and then came the contract issue to upset the teachers. She couldn’t be that stupid, could she?

    Some folks were fussing that she brought her own people with her. I think she needs more of them and fewer DCSD Clewless leftovers.

  27. bettyandveronica1 says:

    I see no conspiracy, I see ineptitude and someone who is clearly out of her league. There are so many issues that need to be addressed at the same time. Woods and Ward-Smith are probably cowering in thei offices right about now. All the little mice in the office are keeping their heads down out of fear. She has been embarrassed. Hell hath no fury….

  28. Gardenerontheside says:

    Anyone else find it very amusing that DCSD has Twitter and YouTube accounts AND both of those sites are blocked on the school computers?

  29. Reader, too! says:

    DeKalb teachers need a union strong enough to correct the unsafe environment that has been created at DCSD. It is very dangerous for teachers to speak their truths in a hostile environment that they face daily. The administration of DCSD has shown historically that they will not protect their teachers, the core of student advancement and success. It must be a difficult experience to work in a profession whose leaders cannot be trusted to appreciate and defend our teacher’s needs for survival as we all traverse the economic crisis. The only way to secure a laser focus on learning is to show respect and appreciation for those in the trenches, our teachers. How well can a “highly qualified” teacher perform when he or she has to run out of the school building everyday to get to his or her night job on time? How about the “highly qualified” teachers who have to add a weekend job to the two jobs they already have? And how effective is one’s laser focus on learning when worried that one’s own civil rights are in jeopardy? Will we find it on headline news that this morning, eight DeKalb teachers were not at their jobs because they had attempted suicide? This just one day after the careless treatment by administration to hand out insulting contracts to those who were “lucky” to get one. What will be next? DeKalb teachers unite and be heard!

  30. Anonymous says:

    And really? Now is NOT the time to be worrying with Twitter and You Tube? YouTube? Really? REALLLLLLLY?

  31. Brook-Dekalb Parent says:

    Given all the other things Atkinson has to deal with, I view the Calendar thing as a mistake in that her attention should have been focused elsewhere. OTOH, i don’t view it as a mark against her. While I personally would find a changed calendar inconvenient, it is a reasonable strategy. It did piss a bunch of people off though.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Backbone your messae is correct. Dr. Atkinson needs to take ownership of the mess that she allowed to go out on this past Monday. What Did She Think? Did she really believe that teachers would accept this foolishness? How strange that she can make a mistake as big as this? However, she wants to reinforce the Common Core Mess. Well, Dr. Atkinson, you should be schooled in proper lines of communcations. Do Not allow Mess of that sort to leave your office without checking with the Dekalb Board Members? This mess reminds me of the little games that Lewis gang used to play!! Leave and pack your bags because the stakeholders will not allow you to abuse our teachers!!!!!

  33. DeKalb Observer says:

    You hope the DA moves rapidly on C-Lew??? It’s been two years since the indictment and still no trial date. Now that Moody has turned, perhaps something will happen, but truly, DCSS will sink into the sea before this is resolved. There are too many highly-placed people who are protecting the evil-doers. Remember Derwin Brown? Moody needs full time security and to enter the Witness Protection Program after she testifies.

  34. Departing DeKalb says:

    As a (soon to be former) teacher in DeKalb, I can vouch for the anger that is occurring within the schools. My school alone is having five teachers resign and leave the county (including myself). It’s not because we have other jobs waiting in the wings, but because we can no longer stomach working for DCSD. Am I nervous about taking the risk of not having a job? Yes. Am I going to have to save up extra money just in case I don’t have a paycheck and insurance for a month or two? Yes. Are either of these worries enough to make me work for DCSD another year? No. I can no longer, in good conscious, work for a system that is so corrupt and nonsupporting of students. It breaks my heart when my students ask me to “please stay next year” and repeatedly ask me why I’m leaving. I wish I could scoop them all up and take them with me. I wish I could just teach them, and teach them well, as I know I do. Unfortunately, for myself, my sanity, my family, and my bank account, I’m having to leave them. Believe me, I’m not the only teacher in this same situation. It’s not the sub-par teachers that are leaving, either. Those teachers (which, in my experience are few and far between) are fine working for a broken system that will give them a paycheck for doing relatively minimal work. The good ones though – the ones that put their heart into what they do and who they do it for (the students) – are the ones that are leaving. I can only hope that my students’ parents will see what’s happening and take their students to a different county. I know my children will never be going to school in DeKalb County.

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