Good morning, All!
There are several issues to address this morning so there is no confusion
or misinterpretation regarding DeKalb School Watch’s comments concerning
teachers and their contracts. (A copy of the law governing teacher contracts will be placed in DSW Archives.) Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea and have a seat.
1. As always, DeKalb School Watch suggests that you obtain the opinion of a qualified attorney concerning your teaching contract (or any other contract) before you sign it. If you have access to competent legal advice through your professional association or as an employment benefit for which you pay via payroll deduction, NOW is the time to use it. In fact, we recommend that you contact ODE if you are a member and ask them to write a clarification on DeKalb’s teacher contracts and Georgia law.
2. Several of us on the DSW staff have 20+ years of experience in dealing with the DeKalb County School System — as long-time parent volunteers, PTA officers, parent council officers and former employees of DCSS. As such, our perspective may be different than yours. After a great deal of deliberation we can no longer, in good conscience, suggest that teachers “stick it out with DeKalb County Schools” until things improve.
3. There will be no improvement in student performance and achievement in DeKalb County Schools until there is a dramatic overhaul of the Central Office and the Board of Education, including but not limited to:
(a) replacing all Central Office personnel with a bare bones temporary staff until a budget fully funding the classrooms is approved first.
(b) fully funding the classrooms by bringing teachers up to their correct pay scale including withheld raises, withheld Tax Sheltered Annuity (TSA) contributions, payment for all furlough days, and paid pre-planning and post-planning days.
(c) fully funding the classrooms to include up-to-date equipment; current textbooks; current, abundant and robust technology; necessary supplies; and relevant field trips.
(d) after accomplishing a, b, and c (above), hiring only the bare minimum of Central Office personnel (with no contract), at starting salaries typical of those found elsewhere in Georgia (none paid more than 90% of the salary of the highest paid classroom teacher with the same degree and years of experience as the Central Office employee).
(e) with the exception of the superintendent whose salary should not exceed 175% of the highest paid classroom teacher in DCSS and schoolhouse principals whose salary should not exceed 110% of the highest paid classroom teacher with the same degree and years of experience as the principal, the salaries of all other employees should not exceed 90% of the salary of the highest paid classroom teacher with the same degree and years of experience as the Central Office employee).
(f) studying all the school board candidates in the upcoming election(s), then identifying and voting for the best school board candidate from your district.
This is “rip off the Band-aid®” time. It will hurt momentarily, but ultimately leads to healing.
We completely understand parent concerns about losing teachers to other school systems who are willing to accord teachers the respect and salary they deserve and have earned. However, we cannot and will not continue lying to DeKalb’s teachers and imploring them to stay until things improve. Frankly, students are not well-served by unhappy teachers who feel taken for granted by parents and persecuted by inept administrators.
For the next few years parents and community members must step up and contribute time and money to halt classroom deterioration until Items 1, 2, and 3a – 3f (above) can be fully accomplished. A suggested contribution of $100/student/family/year is a good place to start. Give more if you can. If that seems high to you, check out the tuition for private schools. If your school has a 501(c)(3) foundation, that is the place to contribute money to be used for supplies, technology and field trips so that it does not appear that teachers are receiving more taxable income than they really are. And you get a credit on your income tax for a charitable contribution to a 501(c)(3) organization. If your school does not have such a foundation, now is the time to start one.
Parents and community members can also step up and volunteer their skills. There are plenty of needs that can be handled by a volunteer outside of school hours (i.e., evenings and weekends). If you are available during school hours there is even more to do. Your child(ren)’s teachers can tell you exactly what they need and how you can help.
Each one tell one: If it is to be, it is up to me.
–William H. Johnsen