A feeble attempt at “appreciation”

This was sent by a DeKalb teacher feeling frustrated and very much under-appreciated about what used to be called Teacher Appreciation Week, but has now blossomed into Staff Appreciation Week.  Parents – please do everything you can to personally let your children’s teachers know how much you appreciate their hard work and determination to continue to do the right thing even in the face of extreme uncertainty and sacrifice.

I am a daily reader of your blog and want to thank you for all of your recent efforts regarding the teacher contracts debacle. Your blog is really the ONLY place where the TRUTH can be discussed honestly and freely.

Just thought you might like to see what the teachers received this morning, along with a half of a muffin, for “Teacher Appreciation Week” (also called “Staff Appreciation Week” apparently.) I fished it out of the trash can in the teacher’s lounge.

Thank you again for all you do for the students, parents and teachers of DCSS.

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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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53 Responses to A feeble attempt at “appreciation”

  1. wiserthanmyself says:

    Thank you for telling it like it is about this pathetic “token.” We received our tokens bright and early Monday morning, except we got cookies and apples and, I understand, pens (I haven’t retrieved mine from my mailbox, although I can see the certificate sticking out). Apparently memos were sent to each school telling just how the tokens were to be arranged on the plate or table. And why is this “staff”–not “teacher–appreciation, anyway? At our school, non-teaching staff had more opportunity to enjoy the tokens, because they could stop by and snack throughout the day, whereas teachers have more limited token-chomping opportunities because WE ARE TEACHING CHILDREN ALL DAY! Alas, some teachers found only bruised apples and crumbled cookies when they finally stopped by. Perhaps this is a metaphor for the fragmented appreciation we’re being shown by the administration?

  2. Rae says:

    This week is really a week for parents to show appreciation. We are the ones that can keep it classy. Our PTSA sent an email out with suggestions for gifts each day based on items the teachers requested. They also bought gourmet cookies for teachers on Monday, served a Honey Baked Ham dinner during the staff meeting and are having an ice cream social on Friday. Don’t expect the DCSS Administration to make your teachers feel appreciated! Step up and do it as parents!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Crumpled in the trash can? I’m framing mine!

    Why, frame this mess??????

  4. NA says:

    I’ve been in Dekalb several years. No superintendent has EVER given us anything for this week. And I have no problem sharing with the other staff members. IJS

  5. GTCO-ATL says:

    FYI, “towards” is not a word. The sentiment should have said “toward.” Now it is worth framing! (Look it up at http://www.m-w.com if you don’t believe me.)

  6. Edward U. Cayshon says:

    Well, OK, framing it probably does reveal a twisted sense of humor, but it is important to retain one’s sense of humor when working in close proximity to bureaucracy. And, as much as incorrect usage would enhance the value of my framed “bureaucracy art”, I must point out that “toward” and “towards” are both acceptable and interchangeable in English. And, if I were composing it, I would have used the word “to” instead of either of them.

  7. justwatch says:

    Frankly, it never occurred to me that it was anything but a time for parents and students to appreciate the teachers. Our PTA has been doing a meal or heavy snack every day with door prizes, etc.

  8. Give the woman a chance! says:

    I agree! The only thing I have ever received from the superintendent was an email on Newsflash saying something like “Happy Teacher Appreciation Week”.

    Please let’s focus on the big stuff that matters. When Johnny Brown was here we focused on his shenanigans with the Pep Rally and his insistence that the students wear uniforms. Nobody was paying attention to Crawford Lewis undermining him and paving his way to the Superintendent’s Office.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Please define “victory in the classroom”. Victory indicates the conclusion of some sort of battle. Negative image.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Some would rather gripe and complain than admit the truth. This is the first token of appreciation from a superintendent that I can remember also.

    Notice that parents have not agreed to a tax increase so that employees can get raises or so that school house employees can keep their jobs working with children.

  11. Unappreciated and angry says:

    We are being devalued and invalidated by this superintendent and the board. Employees who have worked hard and long hours to teach the children of Dekalb are being dismissed without explanation. No contract-no explanation. Others have not even gotten contracts yet and there are only two more weeks left in the school year. Graduation coaches discovered their jobs were no longer being funded, from the paper, not their employer. In fact, the AJC and School Watch have been our only sources of information for quite some time. The school counselors’ work day was reduced but they are still expected to do the same job for a lot less pay. Some secretaries and other office staff were told they had to reapply for their jobs, but then their job classifications were not listed, even though they were told they would be. The salary amount on the contract is not accurate and employees will sign the contract without knowing what their actual salary will be next year. Principals were not even told that some of their staff were not getting contracts. Surprise, surprise! Transparency…bs!! There may be answers, but no one is providing them to the employees. Fear, lies, disgust, instability…what a way to run a school system. Stressed employees = stressed students. Keep your cookie and apple, Dr. Atkinson and give us some honesty and respect.

  12. The Deal says:

    DeKalb schools are not lacking in money. Parents being opposed to a tax increase should not be interpreted as a slight on the teachers. It is a continuing battle against the gross mismanagement of funds on the part of the BOE and administration. If taxes are raised, you can guarantee none of that will reach the teachers. What an ugly comment to make, Anonymous.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Salaries have not gone up because the budget has been cut by over $150 million dollars so far since 2010. You can cut your way out of the mess. I’ve seen numbers up to 90% of the budget made up of employee compensation, by far the largest percentage of the budget. Health insurance costs have gone up also which eats into our take home pay.

    More revenues are needed if teachers are to get a raise. The only way I know to get that is through a tax increase. Otherwise more employees will have to be laid off with the work remaining for those left behind.

  14. Although we do believe that Dr. Atkinson’s intentions were good, we wonder if she really truly understands what our teachers have endured. The latest bad news for teachers is as follows:

    All teachers in the state of Georgia retiring after January 1, 2013 will have a 3% reduction in retirement benefits.

    This was posted on the http://www.trsga.com website.

    We’ll post the document in the FILES section of the Facts & Sources tab.

  15. GTCO-ATL says:

    Requesting gifts is not classy.

  16. Dr. DeKalb says:

    I would never vote to increase my own taxes so that a school house employee could keep his or her job. It is not up to me to keep anyone else employed. But, I am agreeing to pay more in order to pay my child’s new private school teacher, so don’t assuse us of not being willing to do what it takes for our children. I am lucky enough to keep my own family in our home which keep increasing in monthly mortgage thanks to the taxes – barely. But private sector has been hit long before your job was on the line and most of us do not have unions to protect us.

    I was asked if I wanted to continue a 1 cent tax to fund the school system’s “needs” for capital outlay, called SPLOST III. The result was all the lawsuits that followed and that’s what resulted in millions of dollars being removed from the general operating budget in order to pay for all the attorneys. That is what is depleting the funds we pay for your salary. The bosses you protect are stealing my money and yours. So don’t make this into a battle between parents and teachers. Figure out who the real culprit is… follow the money… that trail doesn’t end up in my pocket, I can assure of you that.

    You can quit now and your resume will state that you left by your own choice because you could not work in an environment that you knew was not serving children well or allowing you to do your best work. OR, you can stay, keep quiet, and go through it again next year. And your resume will state that you were fired or downsized or whatever and all you can say is that you worked in DeKalb County and stayed as long as possible without doing anything to stop the leadership from sending our county into a downward spiral that will surely not end well with the rate things are going.

  17. Rae says:

    We ASKED them what they needed! Nothing wrong with that.

  18. Dr. DeKalb says:

    It’s not proper in the AP style book and “towards” does not appear in the dictionary. It is not a word. Nor is a certificate after a week of insults a very good token of appreciation. If it makes you feel better, I once received a small engraved plaque that read “Excecellent Student Award.” Excellent spelled wrong. I have never been more proud. If you can’t laugh at life’s little ironies, what can you laugh at? If you have lost the ability to laugh, you might not be such a good role model for children after all. The joy of learning is hard to instill in others if you can’t remember the last time you smiled at something yourself.

  19. Dr. DeKalb says:

    Who here has retirement benefits beyond an employer match of your 401K? non-teaching?

  20. Teacher Reader. says:

    Comments like this make tax payers have little respect for teachers. As a former teacher, you should be smart enough to realize that DeKalb is already close to the top of the amount by law that the district can tax its citizens. What happens when we reach the top? Healthcare costs have increased significantly. You get benefits that you enjoy. Maybe we, as tax payers, should demand our district employees better healthcare than many of us can afford. Taxes were raised last year. Did you see any benefits from this? No, because there are too many employees in the system that really aren’t needed, too many purchases that we could put on hold and are really wants rather than needs. There are too many frivolous lawsuits that the district is pouring millions of dollars in with no return on this “investment.”

    Your comments show that you are not educated on what happens when taxes are raised. Maybe an Economics 101 course should be what you spend some time on this summer.

    Also, tax payers are tired of paying for an inferior product. Those of that have homes worth something in DeKalb are footing the bill and don’t want to risk our children’s future on the schools in our neighborhood. Sorry, but until the schools are significantly better, I am not willing to pay a penny more in taxes so that anyone can have a raise.

  21. DCSD Teacher says:

    This is not exactly a straightforward 3% reduction in benefits–it’s a change in how much retirement $$ is tax-exempt depending on how much you receive. One thing: on the link posted in FILES, an incorrect (I hope) formula is given at the end for how the benefit is calculated. According to the trsga.com website, what you get is based on the “two highest membership salary years”, not the “2-year final average salary”, as this link shows at the very end. Since our salaries will only go down, this would represent a substantial loss. Let’s hope that trsga just goofed here, and isn’t planning to change its policy that drastically.

    And by the way: we don’t get any matching funds with our 401(K)s and we don’t get Social Security or an alternate plan (since the Board TSA was withdrawn). Whether the TRS will stand up as an alternate plan remains to be seen in the lawsuit.

  22. Unappreciated and angry says:

    One must have a certification in teaching to teach. Graduation coaches have their certification in counseling. There may be some counselors with teaching certificates, but not many. Just because the state stopped funding the position of graduation coach does not mean they are needed in the school- just talk to a high school student who never thought they would graduate and have found success with the help of these people. Most graduation coaches also are the coordinators of Student Support Team, 504 and Hospital Homebound. That responsibility, which is a full time job, will now be given to somebody else who already has too much to do. The students who need the most help and encouragement will suffer the most.

  23. Edward U. Cayshon says:

    OK, so now I have to fact-check. “Towards” is in both my Webster’s abridged and Webster’s unabridged dictionaries. “Towards” has its own entry, which cross-references “toward”. The entry for “toward” reads “toward or towards”. Both say that “toward” and “towards” are interchangeable in usage and meaning. The AP style manual is just that, a style manual.

    I agree with you about laughing and learning. A humorless person doesn’t connect with others, including students, as a human being.

  24. TeachingHS says:

    You may also ask who here is compensated at half the level their degree averages outside of education? The old adage was that benefits and a generous retirement made up for that, but mathematically that isn’t true anymore as fewer and fewer teachers make it to retirement (half leave after 5 years due to work conditions and low pay). They could gladly take away our mandated retirement and double our salaries. Teachers would be happy to set up 401k accounts once that is accomplished. Instead they keep our salaries low and cut benefits, long and short term.

  25. justwatch says:

    I hate to point this out, and I don’t mean to be harsh, but every metro system gave up graduation coaches after the state cut funding, but DeKalb. And they almost all have higher grad rates, even when you compare similar subgroups.
    The other responsibilities listed are the responsibility of the guidance counselors, who I know have a lot on their plate and now have less pay and less hours.

  26. As we understand it, the TRS match was voted on by the board back when Paul Womack was a member in the 1980s. [Please correct any of this if it’s wrong.] The idea was to drop Social Security participation and replace it with the TRS match. The fact is that all ‘regular’ employees in business pay 7% of their pay into Social Security and their employers pay a matching 7%. (Self employed people have to pay the entire 14%.) The board opted out of Social Security instead offering this ‘matching’ plan to the TRS. Therefore teachers will not qualify for Social Security in retirement. It does seem that something would not be quite right about dropping the board contribution to TRS, as by law, if they were still in Social Security, they would have to pay into that program – there is no option to cut this tax. IF this is a legal loophole, then we predict a whole lot of systems and companies jumping on board. Basically, what people pay into Social Security is just that – a SOCIAL program. You do not receive a payment out of some kind of “savings” account that you personally built. In fact, most people end up collecting more than they actually paid in over the years. Same for Medicare. The payments are made by the generations that follow and are still working. This is one reason a lot of people will not go to work for the school system or the state after 40 quarters of contributing to Social Security – you lose a percentage of your benefit in retirement. It’s very messy to mix public retirement programs.

    Also, we did not change the form whatsoever. It is as it was published by the TRS. We suggest paying much closer attention to what is written, rather than what is ‘said’.

  27. Ann Marie says:

    You really need a reality check. If you are this angy and disgruntled, it is time to look in the mirror and take a different path. The stress is not worth it! I agree that there is much work to be done in making things better for both our teachers and students but we must start somewhere. It just seems like nothing is going to make you happy. I cant imagine what your interaction is like in the classroom with our children.

    While there are some graduation coaches that have made a difference in the lives of our struggeling youth, the fact is the data does not show that marked improvement. Additionally, if the funds are not there to float them what do you see as an alternative?

  28. justwatch says:

    Gwinnett is not considered poor a because of undeveloped land vs developed land. Gwinnett is a very large county and not densley developed yet.

    It is very wrong that Gwinnett qualifies for this.

  29. praying4dekalb says:

    WOW! Really? A token of appreciation from anyone is just that. Receive it, exhale and say Thank You. No one is obligated to do any of that – not even the Superintendent. It is however a nice touch and is much apprecited!

  30. Fred in DeKalb says:

    A voice of reason! This is not being harsh but pointing out a fact of the “unfunded programs” provided by the state and federal government. The graduation coaches are being paid for with local dollars. Since most on this blog seem to feel our graduation rate isn’t where it should be, that means they would like to see these positions eliminated.

    Along the same lines, several other metro school systems, Cobb comes to mind, eliminated Pre-K because of the local operating costs involved. Since we are on a zero based budgeting system now, should that be eliminated also?

  31. Name One says:

    FYI from eduKALB:

    eduKALB’s
    Classrooms FIRST
    http://www.edukalb.org

    What Does It Take To Run For
    School Board In DeKalb County?
    Are you are interested in learning what it takes to become a Board of Education member?

    Do you have a friend or acquaintance
    who might consider running for School Board?

    Are you a concerned citizen who would like to know what qualities to look for in a BOE candidate?

    If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, join us on May 17th as we will host an informational meeting in preparation for DeKalb Board of Education candidates to qualify May 23-25 ! We will focus on Board of Education service requirements, as well as appropriate expectations for BOE members.

    Date: May 17, 2012

    What:
    Board of Education Candidate Information Session

    Location:
    Mary Gay House located at 716 West Trinity Place in downtown Decatur.

    Time:

    7:00 PM to 8:00 PM

    The election of DeKalb’s Board of Education Districts 2, 4, 6, and 8 is July 31. This is a change. In the past, the nonpartisan election has been held during the general election in November.

    This year, it is being held on the date of the general primary, July 31. Stay tuned to eduKALB as we work to ensure that DeKalb County puts Classrooms First!

  32. FWIW, the COUNTY raised property taxes last year (police, fire, trash, etc), not the school system. The school system accounts for 60-70% of your property tax bill. They vote to raise their share of property taxes separately from the county.

  33. dekalbite2 says:

    “Along the same lines, several other metro school systems, Cobb comes to mind, eliminated Pre-K because of the local operating costs involved.”

    Why would you say Cobb parents don’t have access to free Pre-K because they do. Look at the number of Pre-K providers in Cobb (Se link below). The state funds the Pre-K teachers in Cobb, and the Pre-K teachers in Cobb have the same educational requirements as DeKalb. The Pre-K services are just delivered through private day care facilities rather than through the school system.
    http://decal.ga.gov/ProviderSearch/SiteList.aspx?pn=&c=Cobb&z=&st=P

    Pre-K programs can be offered through local daycare OR public schools. Cobb as well as most other metro systems offers Pre-K through local daycare facilities because it is more economical. So does Rockdale County. 90% Rockdale County schools are Title 1 (more than DeKalb) yet 100% of Rockdale schools made adequate yearly progress. Rockdale does not provide Pre-K through their public schools. Rather, they provide Pre-K through the local daycare facilities. They have been doing this for years.

    Providing Pre-K through the local daycare facilities is much less expensive while the Pre-K teachers in the local day care facilities have the EXACT same certification requirements as the Pre-K teachers in the public schools.

    Many taxpayers may not realize that the state does not consider Pre-K in the student count for facilities reimbursement. There are many other cost savings as well when a local schools system provides Pre-K through the local day care facilities.

    Most metro systems provide Pre-K through the local day care facilities at a much more economical cost and with NO less academic efficacy.

    DeKalb needs to be looking at every program and service to see what is the most economical way to deliver the same progam services or using the same money to deliver better programs and services for students.

  34. noduh1961 says:

    You’re correct Ed. “To” would have been the best word to use, but “toward” and “towards” are acceptable. Towards being favored by the British.

  35. Atkinson informed everyone on May 2 that the following vacant positions would be posted on PATS:

    May 1, 2012- Executive Directors, Directors, and Regional Superintendents 
    May 8, 2012- Coordinators, Managers, and Specialists 
    May 14, 2012- Analysts, Executive Assistants, Technicians, Secretaries and other Office Support Personnel

    She even said that those to be posted May 1 would probably be posted before that date.

    As of this moment, none of these positions have been posted on PATS, except for a Superintendent’s Chief of Staff position that pays $120,904.00!!!!!!!

    WTH gives here? Does no one keep a promise round here? Is this a “mistruth” or is it incompetence or is something typically fishy going on at the Palace of Corruption?
     

  36. It is just NOT possible that that this topic is still under discussion!

    Ladies and gentlemen — we have serious problems in DeKalb County and in the DeKalb County School System — serious, multi-million dollar problems. We need serious discussion leading to a serious change. The solution will not — cannot — look anything like what we have now!

    We have a school system with deeply ingrained corruption — a school system run by bullies and thugs. We have a very weak superintendent who threw her lot in with the bullies and thugs, in an attempt to appease them and curry favor (which never works with bullies). But, unless Atkinson’s New Birth connection pans out to be significant, it’s only a matter of time before she is thrown under the bus. Meanwhile, our children’s futures are at risk; our home values continue to drop thanks to our sorry school system; and the BOE thinks raising taxes is the answer. All the BOE wants is to enable keeping friends-and-family at full employment, even though most of any tax increase will be lost to DCSS because of the “Equalization” provision in the law.

    So, puh-leeze … serious up, here, folks.

  37. Another person commenting on this blog said that the positions were posted, but the postings said the positions were to be filled internally. Is it possible that the posted positions have already been “filled” internally? We will see if we can find the original comment about this.

    Found it! See the comment by Weary Worker, submitted on 2012/05/03 at 5:34 PM, in response to The ABCs of “Education” in DCSS: Abusers, Bullies, Corruption. Actually, if the PATS job postings are to be filled internally, then we can add another “C” to The ABCs of “Education” in DCSS: Cronyism.

  38. I see that you have to sign in to see the postings now. Does that mean only Dekalb employees can see them?

  39. dekalbite2 says:

    That means the positions are open only to DeKalb County Schools employees.

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