Racially charged Facebook posts by DOE leader vanish after our questions

UPDATE Tuesday morning: The GaDOE has fired Jeremy Spencer. Read the statement here.

UPDATE Tuesday morning: Atlanta senator calls for official to be fired.

Look at the Facebook postings below from an associate superintendent with the Georgia Department of Education. (Heed the warning first about offensive images.) Are the comments and images appropriate for an official of the state of Georgia to post himself or allow to be posted on his public Facebook page, which anyone can access?

A concerned reader notified us of these posts by Jeremy Spencer, the associate superintendent of virtual instruction for DOE and the twin brother of state Rep. Jason Spencer, R-Woodbine. Before joining DOE, Spencer was a high school teacher in southeast Georgia.

You can read here about Richard Woods‘ hiring of Spencer last year for the $138,000-a-year associate superintendent job.

Spencer identifies himself as a DOE leader on his Facebook page and shares DOE news and announcements among his posts about minorities, guns, deportation of immigrants, Ted Cruz and Donald Trump. Many of Spencer’s posts speak directly to Georgia educators about DOE issues and programs, so he was aware his Facebook page was being read by teachers around the state.

Earlier today, I called DOE spokesman Matt Cardoza who was unaware of the posts and said he would find out whether they violated any DOE or state policies. I sent both Cardoza and Spencer himself copies of some of the posts. I asked Spencer for comment, but he did not respond.

Within 80 minutes of my calls and emails, Spencer’s Facebook page disappeared. As many teachers on the blog have stated, social media is a minefield that has to be navigated with caution. Spencer’s posts represent controversial content for anyone to post, never mind a high-level, high-profile state official.

A note before you continue: There is a disturbing lynching image someone shared in response to an anti-Obama cartoon Spencer posted on Nov. 19.

Let me stress: Spencer did not post the lynching photo, but he controls the content that appears on his Facebook page and did not remove the photo, which was displayed for more than two months.

finalspencer

spencerclean3

Spencerclean5

 

Spencer Gays and poles (1)

 

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spencer3

 

Reader Comments 0

92 comments
Anna Weber
Anna Weber

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R Agt
R Agt

Jason Spencer (R) Woodbine is his brother? I'm not surprised since Jason hates the poor, disabled and has blocked Medicaid at every turn. Maybe its all tied into racism. He figures he's hurting minorities by blocking Medicaid and he finds pleasure in it. Two apples from the same tree. Toss both of them out of office and maybe we can fix the schools and Medicaid.

bigdoggie1
bigdoggie1

That's what we get when Georgians decided a crook was better than a compassionate, intelligent, un-bought Michelle Nunn!!!

He was a crook when he was run out of Congress, and he's still a damn crook!

newsphile
newsphile

This man's clout within the system was poised to rise significantly as Deal increased the significance of on-line education in GA as part of his plan.  Please post this guy's credentials for the job.  Repaying political favors with high salaries and mega retirement benefits is costing GA far, far too much.  Just think what could be accomplished if only QUALIFIED people were given government jobs in GA.  I am tired of seeing this in both political parties.

Nunya Biznys
Nunya Biznys

Society is messed up because of individual thinking that is warped. Warped thinking people, make warped decisions. It's the butterfly affect - warped thinking creates warped institutions, neighborhoods and communities. These people in high positions who hold such destructive beliefs are not new, it's just that they are foolish enough to expose their thinking on Facebook. Facebook exposes what has been there all along.


CaptTom
CaptTom

Next up: From what scientific journal did State Board Vice Chair Lisa Kinnemore learn that sexual orientation is a choice?

mary gilmore
mary gilmore

This comes as no surprise to me. The 20+ years I spent in public education inform that it is a most racist and vile institution, filled with people intent upon perpetuating segregation and stereotype. Those holding high expectations for all students were anomalies indeed. I often liken stepping onto a public school campus to stepping back into the Jim Crow era. AA teachers are assigned classes of lower expectations routinely, yet when a committed educator does the job without regard to label and the students excel, publicly funded materials (including textbooks) are withheld as one example.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Maureen, could the AJC inform voters of what other state-level, elected officials have family at the DoE, their position, pay, and date of hire?

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

My AJC colleagues Eric Stirgus and Ty Tagami followed up on this story and spoke to Superintendent Richard Woods. You can read their story today on MyAJC.com. They spoke to experts on social media, who voiced the same reaction as many of you: How could an official who oversaw online education not understand the controversy of such social media postings and how could he have no limits on who saw his Facebook stuff. (As I noted, Spencer used the page for DOE and education news so he may have seen it as outreach to teachers, but wasn't that all the more reason to make sure his content was appropriate?)


http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/race-religion-politics-light-up-education-official/nqCGC/


Here is an excerpt from today's news story: 


Any outrage over Spencer’s Internet activity could distract from Woods’ efforts to address the concerns of teachers and parents during this legislative session. On Monday, Spencer was expected to accompany Woods, the state superintendent of schools, who addressed a joint hearing of the Georgia House and Senate about testing. But Spencer did not attend.

Afterward, Woods responded to questions about Spencer’s online activity, saying he had been briefed and would “quickly” investigate over the next week or two before considering any disciplinary action.

“I’m not very pleased at what I’m seeing,” Woods said.

He said, “I do not condone what was out there, and it does not reflect myself or the views of the department.”

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@MaureenDowney "Over the next week or two" and "quickly" do not go together.


A classroom teacher would have had boot prints on his behind within an hour.  Of course, when your twin brother is a state representative...

eulb
eulb

@MaureenDowney I would appreciate a follow-up article so the public can know whether Spencer is fired, financial terms of his exit, and where he lands next.  If politicians find or create another publicly-funded job for him, the public should know. 

jezel
jezel

His opinions and sense of humor  probably reflect the opinions of many of the "good ole boys" who hold  the entitlement jobs in the DOE and other state agencies, legislature, courts and criminal justice system.


These post explain a great deal about the DOE's.....front office.

Vicky Neal
Vicky Neal

Thank you  for this awareness!!  This is very upsetting!! I wouldn't trust minds like that making decisions about my children and any other child's education.  I am a teacher here in GA and  I will be sharing this on  my FB page, as well as sharing with my colleagues and friends, to bring about additional awareness.

tyger
tyger

And they plan to "turn over" failing schools to these idiots? GTFOH

CSpinks
CSpinks

What qualifications warranted Mr. Spencer's appointment to such a critical post in GaDOE?

Q1225
Q1225

@CSpinks Duh!  He has a degree in educational leadership from Valdosta State.

Perly
Perly

Absolutely appalling! I cannot fathom the twisted mind behind Maureen Downey. If any of this was making fun of candidates she didn't care for, she'd be perfectly fine with it. You don't see people freaking out when Chapelle racist skits or Keenan and Peele racist skits are posted. This guy is guilty for being white. This is the product of oppression. You keep segregating sides more and more. Whatever your beliefs are they directly connect you with backwards motion. Your ideas fail to instill the idea of progress and instead push soicety behind. Replace any of those figures with Bush or Trump and no one would bat an eye. You know darn good and well you are biased to hate on people who are politically opposite than you. Maureen and the witch hunt should be ashamed of themselves. I'd go after the person posting lynching photos, as that shows malicious intent.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Perly You named three comedians whose craft has no impact on the 1.7 million children in Georgia schools. This person is a high ranking educator in the Georgia Department of Education. His views and decisions impact Georgia students. Dave Chappelle's do not.  

Educator4Life
Educator4Life

Trust me, he isn't the only one at the DOE who feels this way. I've worked there, so I have seen and heard things. So, to me, this is not news at all.

eulb
eulb

@Educator4Life I'm not trying to out your identity here, but I would like to know more about the GA DOE from your insider's perspective.  Can you tell us approximately when you worked there, how you got hired there, what work was being accomplished at the DOE, whether anyone there received their job and paycheck as a political favor, and what sort of things you saw and heard there.  Is Jeremy Spencer's attitude the prevailing one?  Or is he an exception, an aberration within the DOE's culture?

Educator4Life
Educator4Life

@eulb @Educator4Life 

I was hired because a DOE employee saw me facilitating professional learning sessions for teachers throughout the state. However, after two years, I was told that the position was being abolished. So, several of us were without jobs. Lo and behold, two months later, there were people "placed" in my former position. I must mention that the new employees were of a different race than myself. I have since tried to get back there, but I have yet to receive an interview. While working there, it was very noticeable that most of the people in the top positions knew someone. Several of them were retired from other school systems. It was amazing to see so many "double-dippers", all of whom fit the description of being in the right club!!! With regards to the culture, there was always the elephant in the room. It was evident that the attitudes of several employees were similar to those of the employee in question.

Lee_CPA2
Lee_CPA2

That was it?  You gotta admit, the joke about the muslim wiping his butt and bacon was funny as hell.  I gotta remember that one.  Ironic that the politically correct pathogens on here provide confirmation that the "How can you tell a racist" cartoon was absolutely correct.

Whatever came of the "I disagree with what you said, but I will defend to the death your right to say it?"  Oh yeah, political correctness.

What Mr. Spencer didn't realize is that those who preach tolerance are among the most intolerant amongst us.  I find the vitriol posted here against Mr. Spencer more disturbing than anything he posted.  I've got a pretty good cartoon about intolerance.  Too bad this forum won't let you post it.

Legong
Legong

Yes, the usual haters are out In force below.

Liberals are befuddled by the popularity of Donald Trump, but will not make the connection between that popularity and their routine demonization of those with non-liberal beliefs.

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

@Lee_CPA2 Lee, you might remember that Jews and others, including SDA Christians, do not consider pork as clean.  Perhaps Mr. Spencer does not know that, either.

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@Lee_CPA2 If you start firing someone for something one of their friends said or did, you have really jumped the shark.  I guess he made a Polish joke too.  Without digging through the hard to read copies, the only thing offensive at all is the comment about Finnish comparisons not being relevant because all Finns are white.

blue_moon111
blue_moon111

Disgraceful and offensive on every level.  Why would Supt. Woods put this bigot in any sort of education position...unless of course, they share similar views?

Perly
Perly

@blue_moon111 Basically every black comedian making racist jokes. Oh wait, they're black, so they get a free pass. Very sad for you.

redweather
redweather

@Perly @blue_moon111 Comedians are in the entertainment business, at least last that I checked.  We're talking about someone holding a position of authority in the state's public school hierarchy.  


Of course, another way to look at this is that since Georgia's support of public education is a joke, it only stands to reason that clowns like Spencer would rise to the top.  (Posted in the interest of being fair and balanced.)

Educator4Life
Educator4Life

@Perly, White comedians make jokes about minorities. But, as Maureen stated, that's their job. Comedians, not educators, get paid to say what people think. We are not in that business. Instead, we are to speak on behalf of our education system. It's a shame that you don't see anything wrong with his FB posts. Very scary, but, expected.

Beach Bound2020
Beach Bound2020

I am beyond offended at the postings of this so called educator. I was equally dismayed by the high school educator who just a few weeks ago lost her job over careless and wreckless Facebook postings.  However, I read - or use to- this column, and sometimes comment because most subjects are topical, important and relevant to the future of educating our children in Georgia.  But why the "outings" lately of the renegade teachers who are clearly out of the their mind and need to move on? Why not just report to the authorities and let them do their job without a news story putting them on blast?


Where is the blog about renegade lawyers Facebook pages - or doctors, or plumbers or politicians or postal workers?  Once again, let's brush broad strokes about educators based on a few bad choices made by some.  i can only imagine further investigation will find professionals in all areas with offensive material on Facebook pages.  But Maureen, of all of the issues with education in the state of Georgia - still ranked among the lowest in the nation, is this what we should be focusing on? Singular individuals who have made poor choices.


A few more pertinent topics that might actually lead to fruitful discussion - why do our children overwhelming still rank so low on a national level?  Why is the achievement gap getting larger each year and not narrowing? Why are teachers in every system subject to draconian measures causing them so much stress and anguish?  Why can't all parents send their children to a well performing school?


So now we know the names of two educators who are lousy.  I feel better about the state of education in Georgia already.



Beach Bound2020
Beach Bound2020

@MaureenDowney @Beach Bound2020 I don't disagree with your point.  My point is simply that reporting on the antics of two educators who clearly need not be in education hardly addresses the real problems this state has with public education.  Further, I would argue in a state that legislates education by politicians to the level Georgia does, policy from state level educrats hardly impacts what is happening in classrooms.  The legislators have far more impact - I almost wish the role of Associate Superintendent (or any state DOE worker) had an actual impact on policy and practice, but it doesn't.  Public education in Georgia is really mere fodder for political gain and loss and in the meantime, our children are losing the most.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@Beach Bound2020 Unclear to your point but this is not a renegade postal worker or real estate attorney. This is a high ranking leader in the state Department of Education, which sets policy for 1.7 million schoolchildren. 

JAWJA
JAWJA

@Beach Bound2020 @MaureenDowney I doubt Spencer would have been fired if not for the media stories.  Also, we would not have known how unqualified he was for his post, and, probably got it because he knew Dirty, and, his twin was in the legislature. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

Where was Superintendent Woods while this mess was on Spencer's fb? 


Woods hired Spencer and you would think he knew something about him before he gave him access to  a $138,000 taxpayer paid salary.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@MaureenDowney @AvgGeorgian


So this is the caliber of a state superintendent? Somebody who posts racist comments with poor grammar as in "not everybody in the US public schools are white"?

xxxzzz
xxxzzz

@AvgGeorgian So you think the state superintendent should be spending his time monitoring his employees social media?  Pretty fascist thinking.  And pretty ineffective use of the time of a person in charge of education.

MaureenDowney
MaureenDowney moderator

@AvgGeorgian Superintendent Woods talked to my AJC colleague Ty Tagami who will have a news story up shortly. In essence, Woods said he wasn't happy with the postings he has seen and would investigate. 

I remain surprised that Spencer -- who leads the state's virtual school and wrote online courses for the state -- had an open Facebook page where he mixed his public and private roles. This was not someone who was new to the online world. This was someone who lived in that world.