School violence: Can we stop the blaming and look for solutions?

Myra Blackmon writes a column for the Athens Banner-Herald. A retired owner of  a public relations firm, Blackmon earned a master’s of education from the University of Georgia in learning, design and technology.

A regular volunteer in Clarke County schools, Blackmon wrote this essay for the AJC Get Schooled blog. In it, she discusses the complex issues raised by the South Carolina incident in which a sheriff’s deputy lost his job for throwing a female high school student onto the floor.

The incident last week began with a teen’s use of a cellphone in class and her refusal to go to the office after being asked by a teacher and administrator.

By Myra Blackmon

South Carolina school resource officer Ben Fields was fired last week after throwing a student who refused to relinquish her cell phone across the classroom. The assault was captured on a cellphone video.

South Carolina school resource officer Ben Fields was fired last week after throwing a student across the classroom.

In the wake of the incident at Spring Valley High School in Columbia, S.C., we have seen analysis and opinion that run the gamut from condemnation of the police officer to vilification of the student.

Many people are concerned with out-of-control students and schools where unruly students escape consequences and teachers routinely fear for their safety.

While schools can be tough environments, many of the claims of violence and disruption are not borne out by the statistics. Granted, we are seeing a lack of respect for authority, a problem that can be traced back to the home.

But public schools must take whatever students show, not just those who have been “raised right” in their homes. And students come with all sorts of stresses and emotional issues that many of us cannot begin to understand.

What works best with these most challenging students is not punishment, but extra support, according to the research. Extra counselors, tutors to help them catch up with their school work and coaching to develop ways to cope with their personal challenges have been shown to make a difference.

With most school guidance counselors expected to support up to 500 students, there is little time to work one-on-one with a troubled student. Growing class sizes make it more difficult for teachers to identify and work with kids who need intervention or extra support.

As a nation, we are facing a perfect storm created by confluence of three trends, none of which on its own was particularly positive, but which combined generate an explosive atmosphere: zero tolerance, letting rules trump common sense and the militarization of our police forces.

Our communities, and particularly our schools, have gone overboard with zero tolerance policies. A child with a one-inch plastic pistol attached to a backpack zipper gets the same treatment and punishment as one who brings a loaded pistol to school. We all know other instances zero-tolerance has backfired.

Often, our response to one negative incident is to make a rule that will prevent that same thing from happening again. In a school setting, that trumps a teachers’ judgement, and frequently prescribes a response guaranteed to escalate rather than resolve a situation.

A high school teacher recently told me about a student who was having trouble in her class one day. Instead of relying on “disciplinary” measures, the teacher asked the girl if she would like to leave class. The child burst into tears before getting out of the room. It turns out that her brother had been killed in an automobile accident the day before and she had come to school to try to get some sense of normalcy while her parents made funeral arrangements.

Had this teacher taken things a different direction, who knows how this distraught child might have reacted? There was nothing normal about her day, and a sensitive teacher was confident enough to skip all the rules about classroom behavior and do what was best for the child. And get her out of the classroom. Administrators in the hallway immediately picked up on the problem and got the girl the support she needed at that moment.

It doesn’t take but a minute to compare that scenario to the one in South Carolina to see that how the adult in charge responds to a situation has a tremendous impact on subsequent events.

This over reliance on rules and zero tolerance has also led to the criminalization of what used to be just bad teenage behavior. When I was in high school, every couple of years some idiot would put a cherry bomb in a toilet, or steal a turkey and put it in the school courtyard over a weekend.

They were caught and punished. They worked to make restitution to the school, or the farmer who was wronged. There were consequences. Most of them learned their lessons and became productive adult citizens. Now our zero tolerance for breaking any rules means that a kid caught doing one stupid thing may have a criminal record. It also takes a “guilty until proven innocent” approach to the discipline of teenagers.

Finally, much has been written about the militarization of our police forces. Not only are most forces now equipped with far more powerful equipment than is required for ordinary community protection, there are more police officers with combat experience—and the issues that come from that—as a result of our years of war. Of necessity, military training teaches aggressive responses necessary for survival in a combat setting. But it takes more than a few weeks of police training to unlearn those responses, so officers may overreact to situations that could be defused.

Combine those three, and we have a perfect formula for unnecessary violence in our schools and in our streets. This is not a time to place blame, but to step back and think what about the environments we want for our children’s learning. We need to revisit all our rule books with an eye to increasing teacher autonomy and getting rid of prescriptive rules that are applied too broadly. We need to re-think the role and training of resource officers in our schools.

Now is the time for thoughtful conversation, not knee-jerk demands for law-and-order responses.

 

 

Reader Comments 0

73 comments
SteveKJR
SteveKJR

Well if you want to stop HS violence then I have a solution. When a child reaches the age of 5 require them to take a psychological exam. Then again at the age of 10, 15, 20, and 25. Then you will have an idea of who is a trouble maker, a violent child and a killer. Stop the youth violence and you will stop 90% of the violence in this country.

popcornular
popcornular

This is the result of the Enabling Culture so accurately reflected by the destructive dinosaurs who poop all over this blog daily.  

3schoolkids
3schoolkids

The fundamental question is really, how do you make someone stay when they don't want to be there? At least from the high school perspective, where many of the worst discipline infractions will occur, the focus is on graduation rates. The rates are tied to how many kids start out there and actually receive a diploma. So keeping them there and successful is imperative. 


Many of them don't want to be there. Either because they don't see the value in it, or because something else is going on. There are ways to handle it, social workers in public schools are very busy. We need more. We need more guidance counselors. We also need more resource officers. Not angry, fly off the handle people (not necessarily related to militarization of police). People trained in de-escalating conflict. 


That is a start, but may or may not help. The reason resource officers end up having to be called is liability. Removing a student by physically pushing their desk out of a classroom will result in a lawsuit by the parents for humiliating and socially isolating the child. Emotional abuse. Teacher loses job when their contract is not renewed. Better to remove the teacher and all of the other students from the class and bring in the resource officer with the social worker and guidance counselor, and call the parent. 


I have a family member who works in a Title 1 school, there are non-profits that work with students who need extra psychological or social support, but they are overwhelmed. Also, when the student's family decides they don't want any more help, they move. Student gone, support gone and they move on to another school where it will take months for the new school to evaluate and get extra support. It becomes an endless cycle.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@3schoolkids 

If a student refuses to obey a directive from the teacher to leave the classroom, from the principal to leave the classroom, and from the resource officer to leave the classroom, all of the other students have observed the power play at work.  Teachers and principals must have some leverage in classroom control.  Did you see the violent physical way that the resource officer ended up forcing the student out of her desk?  That may be worthy of a lawsuit, but sliding a desk of a student who will not obey an authority figure to leave a classroom out of the classroom is not worthy of a lawsuit because the student's infraction was severe enough to demand control.  Your thoughts would further make teachers and principal ineffective in controlling classroom behavior. 

 Parents, be careful for which you wish for you may be creating a monster in lack of discipline in our public schools. That recalcitrant student needed to be shown who had the ultimate control in the teacher's classroom and the other students needed to know that also, not through violence but through isolation.  If the student suffers emotional damage because she had put herself in a position to be isolated then she had created her own isolation and humiliation by her stubborn refusal to recognize that the teacher has the right to control the order of her classroom so that all students will be served well through instruction in a harmonious atmosphere.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings


Teachers may need to work together for the right to an authentic teacher's union in this state in order to regain classroom control. What is happening now is totally unacceptable in the schools' administrations collectively being afraid to address class disciplinary problems, when addressing them is obviously called for, from fear of parental disapproval.

All 35 students in a regular classroom should not have to remove themselves from a classroom because of the willfulness of one recalcitrant student. Setting that extreme precedent for handling disciplinary problems would be far more dangerous to the students' safety throughout in the school than isolating the one disobedient student.  There is not enough space in the school building to remove 35 students from all classes in the school building when one student of 35 in every classroom will not respect the directives of the teacher, the principal, nor the school's resource officer.

AugustineBeary
AugustineBeary

I am so glad my children do not behave in the manner this student behaved.

straker
straker

Mary - "psychological counseling, over several months"


Schools won't do that because it would cost a ton of money to give such counseling to the obviously large number of students who need it.

And, the politicians won't part with the money they now give their corporate sponsors in tax breaks and other perks for needy students who can't give them anything.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@hssped 

That would be a nightmare, but that is not what I envisioned, nor what the Democratic Party has envisioned regarding their concepts of what a "community school" would entail, from what I have read thus far.  Look for more information to be forthcoming from the coming legislative session regarding this Democratic model for public schools.  We will learn more about it together.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@MaryElizabethSings @straker

Psychologists don't solve a person's problems. They're an expensive sounding board whereby people can solve their own.

Kids simply need someone with whom they can relate and vice versa. Granted, they need an adult that will keep 'em focused.

Kids need to be given the freedom to say "My family SUX, but I don't have to be SUCKED into their destructive vortex."

hssped
hssped

@MaryElizabethSings @straker


I like your idea....everyone gets the help they need.  But shouldn't this help come from the family or church?  Why the schools?  The school shouldn't be a catch-all.  Well, I don't think it should. 


What I'm hearing/thinking  is that your community schools concept really means that every student will be in spec ed and have an IEP. That is not reasonable.  The paperwork would be a nightmare.  



MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@straker 

That is precisely why I support Georgia's Democratic Party's "community schools" concept, in which psychological counseling would be provided to those students in need of that intervention.  Unless we reach the heart of students' problems, we will not solve our educational, nor our societal, problems.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

@hssped @MaryElizabethSings @straker


"But shouldn't this help come from the family or church? "


Many of the kids who need the most help come from dysfunctional families, so they are not likely to offer much "help".  And not everyone belongs to a "church." School are the best prospect for being able to reach out to these children.  If we can target and help these children when they are young and are more receptive to assistance, maybe we as a society will not have to deal with so many suicides, mass killings, addictions, and criminal behaviors. 

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Quidocetdiscit @hssped

@straker 

Of course, all of these resources could work together for the benefit of dysfunctional students - schools, religious institutions, and families.  It is not a matter of an "either/or" proposition but of an "all who can help" one.  I agree that the most effective help could come from public schools.  That is why I believe that traditional public schools, rather than charter schools, would have the cohesion and continuity required to bring stability to the students' lives, if they could become the community schools envisioned by the Democratic Caucus of Georgia's Legislature.

Thunder5113
Thunder5113

Sounds good but the problem is not the teachers nor is it the reaction of law enforcement. We need some classes for parents and children. Once they enter the walls of any institution they should know how to act or react. Although teachers take on many hats in the school house. Our primary goal and charge is only to teach academic studies. Gives those classes and such to the guardians and their caretakers and yes the workplace and these kids safe haven called the school house will be a more safe and loving environment!

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT, information from T.R.A.G.I.C.:


" **********ERC (Educational Reform Committee) MEETING NOV 19**********
**************2:00pm - 4:00pm**************

DECAL Oak Conference Room, Sloppy Floyd Building
Suite 824, East Tower

The Education Reform Commission (ERC) will hold the next full meeting on Thursday, November 19th. The chair of the ERC, Dr. Charles Knapp, has announced his intention to hold a vote on all ERC proposals at this meeting, leaving the final December meeting open as a “celebration” of the ERC’s work.

If Dr. Knapp’s agenda for the meeting keeps the same format used during previous ERC meetings, the ERC will vote on the funding proposals BEFORE public comments are allowed. The ERC may decide on the future of public education funding, transportation funding, and teacher compensation without any further public comment. The latest funding proposals were discussed at the last Funding Subcommittee meeting, will be finalized at the November 12th Funding Subcommittee meeting, and will be presented to the full ERC for the first time on November 19th. Despite Senator Lindsey Tippins’s statements that Georgia public schools need more funding, the ERC seems poised to lock-in recession-era spending and austerity cuts as the status quo for Georgia’s school districts.

We must not allow the ERC to vote on the future of public education without making a statement of our concerns about their decision to lock-in recession-era funding for Georgia’s public schools. We must have a strong presence at the November 19th meeting to show the ERC, our legislators, and other decision-makers that we will stand for Georgia’s public schools and for Georgia’s children

Education groups, such as TRAGIC, GAE, GFT, GREA, PAGE, and even the GaPTA have been excluded from the discussions of the ERC subcommittees, and only allowed 3-minute public comments at the end of the full ERC meetings. Many of these groups have made public comments against these proposals, yet none of these groups have been included in these very important discussions. . . ."

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@jezel 

Another reason to start talking about getting real teachers' unions into Georgia so that teachers will not continue to be disrespected and maligned without a voice in their careers and quality of life.

First step to that end, vote for Democratic state representatives into Georgia's legislature. All of ALEC members in Georgia's legislature are Republicans, including some high ranking Republican leaders.

newsphile
newsphile

@MaryElizabethSings @jezel  What each worker pays into the pot versus what he/she gets back is very heavily tilted in the direction of the small number at the top of the chain.  Unions do not serve the best interests of the students nor the teachers, according to several family members who are currently teaching in other states.  They talk of greed, fraud, and other criminal acts being committed by heads of their unions.  It's become another layer of politicians.     

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@newsphile 

Better than not having a voice at all in your life's work and quality of life.  There is power in numbers.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

First off, let me comment that I HATE one- and two-word "paragraphs."


Secondly, I reject much of what she says.  I guess I am one of those knee-jerk people, but nowadays we don't see a "cherry bomb in the toilet every few years" or a turkey let loose.  What teachers and students in many schools see every day is unrelenting disrespect, frequent violence toward others, and constant interruptions of their work by students who have no intention of becoming engaged with the subject.  I volunteered in 3 Clarke County schools myself for 5 years, and witnessed absolutely incredible behavior.  My children witnessed far worse, including a female SRO being knocked down and stomped by a middle school student, and the principal blaming the SRO for the problem!


As to her anecdote: The girl's behavior was obviously atypical, so of course the teacher responded as she did. And, what parent in their right mind allows a freshly bereaved child to go to school, even if they want to?

readcritic
readcritic

@Wascatlady These incidents are not uncommon anymore. Students are more disrespectful, disruptive, and dangerous than ever and teachers get blamed for what they did or failed to do to cause their bad behavior. It is a no-win situation. Until students and parents are held responsible for their own actions and learning, school climate will only decline.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Astropig

I was wondering about that myself. All blogs are coming up at MyAJC.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

If the number of kids from troubled homes is overwhelming the schools due to staff shortages, I suggest self-help groups be set up wherein kids can vent one to another. Establish a place where they can discover they're not alone in a world of dysfunction.

Given the fact there are kids who have beat the odds, it's possible others can too. A kid does not have to be a product of their home environment.

A counselor can oversee the group.

Early intervention is key, but when that opportunity is missed, the kids (older) must be given an opportunity to deal with the consequences.

Sympathy won't fix what ails 'em. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@FIGMO2 When would these groups meet? How would a counselor have time (not to mention the kind of training) to oversee?

HS_Math_Teacher
HS_Math_Teacher

There are several factors that contribute to this mess we're in today.  The problem now is the genie is out of the bottle, and we can't get him back in again. 

redweather
redweather

Most young people and a lot of not-so-young people are not good at motivating themselves. Intrinsic motivation can be learned. Good teachers know how to promote it in the classroom because they know how to manage their classroom. The South Carolina story was a textbook example of a teacher delegating the management of his classroom to someone else. Maybe that's what he was told to do. In any event that, in my view, is the takeaway from Spring Valley High.

Quidocetdiscit
Quidocetdiscit

" ...many of the claims of violence and disruption are not borne out by the statistics."


I highly respect Ms. Blackmon and enjoy her columns, but I can attest that one of the reasons the "claims" are not borne out by "statistics" is that teachers are actively discouraged form reporting violence in their classrooms.  Schools are judged and funded, in part, based upon stats that show if they are "safe schools" or not, and too many discipline reports counter that.  I personally have been the victim of classroom violence and know of several other teachers who have as well.  I have also witnessed students attacked by other students. Generally, there was NO paperwork involved.  It was all very hush-hush.  

readcritic
readcritic

@Quidocetdiscit This is what happens now. Administrators  have their ways to strongly discourage teachers from writing discipline reports or making student behavior referrals. It is called intimidation, harassment, bullying, etc.

DumbandDumber
DumbandDumber

The behavior starts and is perpetuated in the home, or lack thereof. Without positive role models and discipline being taught, how is a child supposed to know how to act. And why does the kid have to have a cellphone in class? Expecting the teacher to wait until the end of class to discipline the student is ridiculous. Part of discipline is having the other students see it and understand that there are consequences to actions.

RLSmith
RLSmith

So, Myra Blackmon, throw more taxpayer money at the problem.  Typical bureaucratic answer.

Unaffiliated Voter
Unaffiliated Voter

Restore REAL discipline in the screwls...arm the teachers with guns...better yet, get YOUR children OUT of these

miserable government indoctrination centers today !

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

And once again, I say if you want to address the behavior issues in high school, you have to address the behavior issues in 1st and 2nd grade.  If you wait 7, 8, 10 years, no amount of counselors in high school are going to fix the problem.

The police officer was called into the SC classroom because the teacher and administrator had run out of options.  The teacher and administrator could not persuade the student to leave the class, they could not physically remove the student from class, so they called the one guy who could.

Bottom line, the politically correct caused this situation and the politically correct have no clue on how to fix it.  For centuries, parents lived by the adage of "Spare the rod, spoil the child" and it worked.  The politically correct removed the discipline part of the equation and now act surprised that their offspring have grown into uncontrollable brats.

Wood on backside, applied during the formative years, works wonders.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lee_CPA2 

Imo, your remarks entail stereotypical thinking and contain generalized ideology.

You are correct, however, that the school's resource officer was needed.  The administrator should have given the officer better disciplinary guidelines for a school setting before the officer removed the student from the class in such a violent way. The environment was, after all, a school setting, and not a penal institution. The officer and the administrator could have, together, simply slid the student's desk, with the recalcitrant student in it, outside of the classroom's door and suspended the student for insubordination.  No one would have been hurt, having proceeded that way, and the teacher would have sustained control of her classroom and her students. While the suspended student would have been away, the administration should have researched the student's developmental and family history to see if psychological counseling, over several months, would be recommended upon the student's return to the school.  This response would have been wiser, more prudent, and more productive for the student, the teacher, and the school.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lee_CPA2 

As I had stated in an earlier comment, the classroom door should have been locked until the class period was over.  Then, all the students would be moving to their next classes. The student's reaction in her desk while outside of the classroom, after she had been suspended, would determine the next action on the part of the school's administrator, who should make that determination, not the officer.  The officer's role is to carry out what the administrator determines is necessary to maintain discipline, and care for all students, in his school.

Btw, the phrase, "politically correct," has become a trite copycat phrase which contains little depth of thought - only an unrefined connotation.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lee_CPA2 

Courtesy goes a long way on blogs and will influence our children to the positive, not the negative. Try to exercise it.


In terms of content, I stated that the next move would be the student's and that the principal would determine the next level of disciplinary procedure, not the resource officer, based on the student's response. I would recommend a cool down time for all while the student remained in the desk in the hall.  The principal could inform the recalcitrant student that if she did not come to his office within 15 minutes, that the principal would send the officer to retrieve her from the hall area.  The officer should be advised not to use undo force in removing the student from the desk in the hall.


Please notice that by removing the student to the hall intact in her desk and with the classroom door locked until the next period, the teacher could continue her lesson with the remaining students in her class and those students would have realized that discipline would be enforced by the administration, but in a way that was the least harmful to the student's physical well-being.  I believe most students would have respected that more moderate approach to achieve the same end of enforcing discipline, but with care.

 


Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MaryElizabethSings @Lee_CPA2

The student made her "next move" about fifteen minutes earlier.  She didn't obey the teachers directive to put the phone away.  She didn't obey the teachers directive to go to the office.  She repeated the infractions with the administrator.  FINALLY, they called the one guy who could take control of the situation - the police officer.  She STILL refused the LAWFUL command of the police officer.

All your methods of "waiting for the student to make the next move" have done is to relinquish what little bit of authority the teacher and administrator have to the student.  

Congratulations.  You've just made the NEXT situation ten times worse - and there will be a next time, and a next, and a next....

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@Lee_CPA2 

We disagree.  You have conveniently ignored the fact that the student would be removed from the class and would also have a "cool down" period to reflect, with my suggestions.  Your thoughts on the discipline of that recalcitrant student allow for none of that subtlety of process which I envisioned. I think your approach is much more inflammatory not only with "this time," but also in subsequent times. Your approach would further alienate, not heal.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MaryElizabethSings

"The officer and the administrator could have, together, simply slid the student's desk, with the recalcitrant student in it, outside of the classroom's door and suspended the student for insubordination."


Now what?  You've got the student outside the classroom, she is still not leaving her desk, she is refusing to go to the office.  You just going to wait her out?  What if she gets out of her desk and begins to walk back into the classroom?  You just going to let her?  


Like I said, the politically correct have no clue on how to fix the situation they caused.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

@MaryElizabethSings @Lee_CPA2

You've still offered no solutions on how to get the student out of her desk and to the office.  Just more of the same "wait and see" tripe.

VivBarker
VivBarker

The discussion between you two illustrates how few options are available in a "zero tolerance" school atmosphere. Confrontations are needlessly and frequently provoked, and even minor infractions are raised to the level of a power struggle where any other student response than "yes sir" easily escalates to shouting and even laying hands on the student.

As parents we know one has to choose one's battles shrewdly, and develop skills in de-escalating confrontation. The alternative is authoritarianism, where every minor disruption is viewed as a challenge to authority, and peace is maintained through fear. Experience shows such a family raises adults who are either afraid to challenge authority, or alternatively challenge authority constantly-- people who tend to behave either like submissive children or rebellious adolescents throughout life. Such people are handicapped in dealing with the complexities of life.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@VivBarker This was no "minor confrontation."  This student in S.C. refused to recognize the authority of her teacher, her principal, and the resource officer.   Parents, be careful what you wish for because you may be creating a discipline nightmare in public schools that will not serve your own communities, and your own children, well.

OldPhysicsTeacher
OldPhysicsTeacher

"We need to revisit all our rule books with an eye to increasing teacher autonomy and getting rid of prescriptive rules that are applied too broadly."

Sounds like a great idea.  Can you get the legislators to agree that they screwed up big time for accusing teachers of being the reason for the "failure of gubment schools?"

I didn't think so.  Then this is a waste of time... other than to continue to point out to people who *will not* listen that the problem is not solvable in schools.  

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@OldPhysicsTeacher 

Encourage everyone you know to vote into Georgia's legislature Democratic legislators who will listen to reason and who will pass laws that will benefit the whole of society, where the fundamental problem related to discipline resides.

VivBarker
VivBarker

Do you really believe that the fundamental problem relating to discipline resides in the state legislature? I am not from GA but in my experience laws passed in my state legislature regarding the conduct of day-to-day school administration are almost without exception blunt instruments which create more problems than they solve.

In the SC incident, I'm guessing state legislation had nothing to do with it. There may for example be some general law allowing the school to eject a kid disrupting class. But it's on the principal and teacher if that gets interpreted as, stop everything: this kid is using a cell phone-- kid must follow teacher orders or we call in the SRO to forceably eject her. Sensible administrators have rules such as cell phones stay in lockers. Sensible teachers know how to avoid confrontations. Schools with an ounce of sense don't set up their teachers with the hourly confrontations created by zero-tolerance policies for any but a few non-negotiable issues like drugs, weapons, and physical fighting.

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

@VivBarker  Do you know that Georgia's Republican legislators have the second highest membership in ALEC in the nation?  Study the goals of ALEC.  (American Legislative Exchange Commission) in which top CEOs and mainly Republican state legislators join forces to establish bills in state legislatures across the nation.  Their votes are why Medicaid is not being expanded in Georgia for the working poor of our state of 600,000 people without health insurance, and a loss of $35 billion dollars back to Georgia from the federal government for health care purposes like more rural hospitals and jobs.  Their votes are also why Republican politicians in Georgia have been undercutting funding to traditional public schools for well over a decade and why these politicians are trying to dismantle not-for-profit traditional public schools in favor of using tax payer dollars to fund for-profit charter schools and/or private schools.