Georgia teacher groups may pay for opposition to governor’s Opportunity School District

The GOP tax overhaul eliminates a $250 deduction by teachers for spending on classroom supplies. (AJC File)

Georgia teachers and their professional organizations may pay a price for their opposition to Gov. Nathan Deal’s Opportunity School District, which is faltering in a new AJC poll released today.

The Governor’s Office has filed an Open Records request for information about how local school districts utilize payroll deductions for educators’ membership dues in the Professional Association of Georgia Educators and the Georgia Association of Educators. The request appears to be a fact-gathering mission for legislation that could prevent educators from using payroll deductions to join professional organizations.

“We see this as punishment for the opposition of teachers to the Opportunity School District,” says Craig Harper, spokesman for PAGE. “We are hearing from districts that they have gotten this Open Records request and are concerned about it and see it as indicative of this governor’s penchant for state intervention in things that don’t require it.”

Harper said Deal seems determined to undermine the appeal and scope of teachers’ groups, citing the state’s newly introduced educator liability insurance. Many teachers join professional groups for the liability coverage.

Deal likely sees PAGE and GAE opposition to the Opportunity School District as a direct affront. The governor is keen on loyalty and rewards people for it — even over competency and qualifications — as demonstrated by his recent top-level appointments. 

After writing about education for 19 years in Georgia, I absolutely believe teachers need someone in their corner as there are few legislators championing their cause. There is no shortage of lip service under the Gold Dome, but little sincere and abiding concern for teachers or respect for what they do. PAGE and GAE serve as early warning systems about bad legislation or hidden provisions in bills damaging to educators and schools. Without their lobbying efforts, student test scores would still count for half of a teacher’s annual rating. A bill approved this year reduced the weight of test results in teacher evaluations to 30 percent.

Here is the email from Chris Riley, Deal’s chief of staff, to school districts. The email was copied to Deal’s executive counsel Ryan Teague as well:

From: Riley, Chris

I am emailing you to obtain the following information we are compiling from all school systems statewide. Once compiled, a full copy of the findings will be available for your review at OPB. Under the Georgia Open Records Act ? 50.18.70 et seq, the Governor’s Office is requesting the following information from each local school system:

1. Records of dues collected by the school system for the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) and Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE):
a- total dollars collected per month for Fiscal Year 2016;
b- total dollars collected per fiscal year for 2016.

2. Does the school system charge an administrative fee to collect the dues for PAGE and GAE? If so, what is the amount of the administrative fee?

As provided for by Georgia law, please provide this information electronically. If there are any fees for searching or copying these records, please inform our office. Please submit the information to the following email address: erc@opb.georgia.gov

The Georgia Open Records Act requires a response time within three business days. If you are unable to meet this requirement, please indicate accordingly. Thank you in advance for your cooperation and attention the request.
Thanks,
Chris Riley
Chief of Staff
Governor Nathan Deal

Reader Comments 0

151 comments
class80olddog
class80olddog

By the way, in private industry, I and my cohorts have been members of many a "professional organization" but their dues never were collected by automatic deduction. 

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

A professional is financially responsible and pays his dues without having his employer deduct them from his pay. Teacher's unions obviously don't consider their members to be professionals.

Joanie Kahl
Joanie Kahl

Vote no on Amendment one on schools it is bad period too much to go into here....corruption waiting.

Sondra Landrum
Sondra Landrum

I really hate the AJC's "you've reached your limit" message. It's time to take them out of my timeline. We can read this same information on local news sites, without the hassle.

Michele Williams
Michele Williams

Exactly,it's bad enough with ppl on facebook popping up with those ridiculous movie links

Donna Lord Webb
Donna Lord Webb

And won't let me finish this article, but I read enough to know that he might retaliate against the Education groups and teachers who are vocally opposing his Amendment 1. Vote NO to Amendment 1. The teachers and parents know what's best for their students and children.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

So after months of debate and discussion, OSD and charter promoters answer these questions thusly.


Q: What curriculum and delivery plan does the OSD offer that will improve student learning?

A: There is none.


Q: Are you concerned that the model for the OSD, the State Charter School System, is a chronically failing system that hides all hiring and spending from the taxpayer, making it easy to reward friends, family, and contributors from the 100 $chools that can be taken over?

A: Could you repeat the question-forever?

JBBrown1968
JBBrown1968

Same non-since  day after day. What is going to be be better if OSD passes? You screwballs complain about bad teachers and how dumb they are. Where are you going to get these new more intelligent beings? Low Pay...no respect....endless levels of management....no hope of raises....high insurance premiums....35 kids per class......endless testing......20 minute lunch breaks...no bathroom time......no books.......technology that never works..on and on.


Second thought you are right Mr. Pig its the teachers. If they had any brains at all. One state wide sick day would kick you and the rest of brain trust in the eggs! 


These unions like Gae should sue the state for austerity cuts. It would be for the children.....right.

Astropig
Astropig

Not to worry! LOT'S of options.


1) If the OSD passes (far from certain),then we can begin shaking up the status quo and making them at least pretend to be responsive top these kids needs.This would be good.


2) If the OSD doesn't pass (far from certain), take a page from the past,find a couple of friendly plaintiffs (shouldn't be too hard) and sue the snot out of these districts independently or en masse for not providing an "equal education" that the state requires.Slam dunk case in front of the right judge.After all,it was Brown vs. BOARD OF EDUCATION  that destroyed the old status quo of our parents.Back then,as now,it was local boards protecting their little fiefdoms that kept some kids second class citizens for life.


3) Start with the worst districts.Pour resources into running these school boards out of office.Social media,neighborhood get-togethers.Infiltrate the PTA's for their member lists and get active.There should be some $$$ available from companies that want to locate here but can't find skilled,educated workers .They'll support improvements in education.


4)Don't stop,don't slow down,don't ever give up on trying to hold the status quo's feet to the fire and make them deliver on the inside what they promise on the outside of our school buildings (excellence in education).

Astropig
Astropig

@AvgGeorgian @Astropig


I'm pretty sure that the problem will take care of itself in SOME (not all) of these districts.Calling attention to the issue has alerted charter starters to the idea that these parents around these schools are "persuadable" to say the very least.These horrible schools will soon have competing charters whether they like it or not.The legislature doen't have to act (it already has by passing this amendment)and they can tweak the charter funding to make it easier for charters to take root in these places.Parents will abandon these awful schools and then the "local" school boards will really wish that they had out of state unions to help them stop the bleeding.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig

Legislature could require 85% of funding be spent in classroom. I fear they don't do this because that removes the profit skim available for charter management companies.

sneakpeakintoeducation
sneakpeakintoeducation

What about demanding that the governor restore all the austerity cuts and fully fund schools?

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

PAGE and GAE are typical unions in that they value dues checkoff above all else. In dues checkoff, the employer deducts union dues from the employee's pay and sends the dues to the union, sparing the union the aggravation of collecting dues from their members.

Local school systems should not be collecting teacher union dues. Let the unions collect their dues from their members.

newsphile
newsphile

@Astropig  Several members of my family are teachers and administrators.  Not one of them has ever been intimidated and/or coerced into membership.  You really should do research before posting.  Let the facts, not opinions, speak for themselves.

Astropig
Astropig

@BurroughstonBroch


Agree. Wisconsin did this a couple of years ago.When teachers had to scratch a check,almost 40% of them melted away off the rolls.Obviously,they had been intimidated and coerced into membership and when they could no longer be forced,they bolted.That is the reason that PAGE and the other outfits are complaining about this right here,right now.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

Same old argument that has been disproved time after time.

They are unions in all respects except they cannot strike. GAE's national parent even states they are unions.

They would make teacher membership mandatory if Georgia were not a right to work state. Thank God it is.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

I understand the difference, but you don't agree. Too bad for you.

You are dead wrong, yet you repeat the same lie time after time. Repeating a lie repeatedly does not change it - it's still a lie.

BurroughstonBroch
BurroughstonBroch

School systems should collect payments required by law: withholding taxes, social security taxes, TRS, state health insurance, and garnishments.

They should not withhold any other amounts.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@BurroughstonBroch

There are no teacher's that belong to unions in GA. That is against the law. GAE and PAGE are Professional Teacher Associations - the same kind of association to which doctors, lawyers, dentists, nurses, policemen, accountants, engineers, and other professionals belong.  

Should local school systems collect;

1. State taxes?

2. Social Security taxes?

3. Health Insurance payments?

4. Dental Insurance payments?

5. Vision Insurance Payments?

6. Credit Union Payments?

7. Flex spending payments?

8. Life insurance payments?

9. Teacher Retirement payments?

10. Charitable organization Payments

11. Private retirement fund payments?

12. Disability insurance payments?

13. Cancer insurance payments?

14. Accident insurance payments?



AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@BurroughstonBroch

You seem to reject facts, logic, and learning. I understand. Sometimes firmly held, irrational beliefs give great comfort, safeguard you from change (which can be scary), and help you fit in with your social group. If you really want to learn more about the differences in unions and associations, just let me know.

lookout mountain
lookout mountain

Pay a price for "professional organizations"?

Last year Gov. Deal promised a 3 percent raise - in Walker County in 2016 we were told we would get a 1 percent one-time payment sometime next year. If we had an actual union this would not be an issue. I have not received a raise in pay as a teacher for 11 years. What industry forgoes raises for a decade?

Starik
Starik

@lookout mountain Lots of State employees haven't had a raise for a long time, like the State Patrol.  Finally they're getting a raise, due to the fact that it's an election year (police are popular).  Less glamorous employees get nothing.  Remember the Bush Recession?  Low taxes=minimal services and low employees for rank and file employees.

Astropig
Astropig

@lookout mountain


Money being sent to schools keeps getting intercepted by administrators and other leeches.Walker County is a train wreck anyway because it has the single worst county commissioner in probably the whole country. I sold a house there earlier this spring to get out from under the coming explosion in property taxes from her malfeasance.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Astropig @lookout mountain

Easy fix. The governor always has the ability to add raises to the state salary schedule to guarantee that teachers get the 3%. He didn't do that. Why? His goal is to reduce teacher pay and did not want to give a permanent raise.

KnowTheFactsOSD
KnowTheFactsOSD

@Astropig @lookout mountain Yet another example of misinformation and lack of research on @AvgGeorgian end. 


This is NOT an easy fix when there's a 2011 supreme court ruling granting local districts total & exclusive control over general k-12 education, and yes, this includes how they utilize the state funding. That's the entire reason why a constitutional amendment is on the ballot for the state to be able to step in - local districts maintain absolute control. 


Gov. Deal has allocated a total of $8.9 billion in state funds for K-12 education in the FY 2017 budget. including $300 million in additional funds for salary increases for educators. 


If you're an educator and you didn’t receive that raise, I encourage you both to ask your school board why that was the case and to let the Governor's Office know so that they can be aware of that failure to pass along funds meant for you. 

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

My challenge stands for state charter school and OSD defenders to post, for state run charter schools: 

1. Salary data

2. Personnel data

3. Vendor payments

4. Detailed board minutes(now some do have access to these, but some don,t seem to)

5. Detailed budgets 


These are the things real PUBLIC SCHOOLS post for the taxpayer to view.


I am open to correction on this hidden spending and hiring. Am waiting patiently.


If the spending and hiring is PRIVATE, the school is not PUBLIC.



RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

You are too ignorant to justify the waste of my time. Go to the Commission Office and discover your ignorance yourself.

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @RoyalDawg I'd like to see the data on public school teachers...


Testing history on the easy entrance exam, and how many times the applicant failed it.


Where they got their college degree, and class standing and  their major.  Source and content of "graduate degrees" 


Current salary, and how the salary is calculated. 


Scores testing their competency in basic skills and the subject their teaching; wait, that's not tested. 





AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Starik @AvgGeorgian @RoyalDawg 

So you think all professionals hired by the state should publish:

"Testing history on the easy entrance exam, and how many times the applicant failed it.

Where they got their college degree, and class standing and  their major.  Source and content of "graduate degrees" 

Current salary, and how the salary is calculated. 

Scores testing their competency in basic skills and the subject their teaching; wait, that's not tested."?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@RoyalDawg

Been there, done that. Nothing to see. Can't meet the challenge? Then you concede that the state run charter schools hide hiring, personnel, vendor payments, etc.?


Just let folks know you are OK with hiding money from taxpayers as long as you profit either academically, politically, or financially.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Starik @AvgGeorgian @RoyalDawg

Would you like to see that for all state employees, or just teachers? Do you demand only teachers post this info?

How about we have the legislature and governor take the sat and post their scores. Then we can see if they are fit to make decisions about education.


If you don't know how to find basic public information, your google must be broke.

Robert Mitchell Ophion
Robert Mitchell Ophion

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dcdcdc
dcdcdc

The fact that a poor mom's kids are consigned, with zero options, to attend a chronically failing local school, simply because their mom can't afford an apt in a better school district, is one of the absolute biggest civil rights tragedies of our time.  And because of this, her kids will have basically zero chance of making it out.


Its clear that to the eduacracy, control of the taxpayer's money (and the favors that they can buy w/ it) is way more important than actually helping the kids.  Otherwise, they would be happy to see if someone else could do a better job for the kids - since they have been failing these same children for 30+ years.


Sadly, it appears that the same moms who would most benefit from this change, are buying the lie that it will be bad for them.  When the only people it will be bad for are the ones who have been in control of these schools, while delivering nothing for their kids.


My children and grandkids will continue to get a good education, because I can afford a house in a good district.  It's truly a tragedy that so many who profess to "care about the kids" turn around and fight something that might actually give the kids a chance.

RoyalDawg
RoyalDawg

@FlaTony @dcdcdc So you give up and keep the status quo? As Trump said, "what have they got to lose?"


Why not try the additional flexibility and relief from red tape that the OSD will provide? Also, do you think some of the less qualified teachers end up in these schools?

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@RoyalDawg @FlaTony @dcdcdc 

What's up Dawg? I notice you are not responding to my challenge concerning hidden spending and hiring for state run charter schools. You keep accusing my statements of being "debunked" but can't even seem to find the spending info for your own charter school.


My initial assessment is that:


1. You like your own charter school, are chagrined by the whole hidden money thing, but support it because it helps you personally.


2. You profit personally, either financially or politically, from supporting state charters and OSD.


I am willing to engage with research and logic on the topics of local government control and accountability to taxpayers.


My challenge stands. 





Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @dcdcdc If kids have teachers who are competent, where the kids and parents care about education they will give kids a chance.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@Starik @AvgGeorgian @dcdcdc

Please post a link to research that shows that in ANY School, kids that pay attention in class, do their homework, and diligently study, fail. I would really like to know.

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @Starik @dcdcdc Kids naturally won't pay attention in class unless they're interested in what's taught. They do homework if there's a penalty for not doing it. Study? If necessary to pass. The same goes for attendance; taking a few days off during the school week is attractive, if there's no penalty. I moved from DeKalb to North Fulton. Research isn't necessary.

newsphile
newsphile

@dcdcdc It is inhumane to put students from "failing" schools into a system that didn't work in NOLA, TN, and other places.  Most of the loud supporters of Deal's OSD are on his payroll. 

FlaTony
FlaTony

@RoyalDawg @FlaTony @dcdcdc There is actually a lot to lose. It turns out in most of the places where the OSD models have been implemented, the neighborhood schools end up shutting out the local students. They are disenfranchised from the so-called opportunity school. The community loses what little stability it had with the neighborhood school. You're fooling yourself if you think the OSD will provide flexibility and less red tape.


What is needed for these communities are true answers to the deeply entrenched poverty. Schools alone cannot change that. No matter how fancy the name of the school is.

FlaTony
FlaTony

@dcdcdc Your opening statement sums up one of the big social problems of our time but lays the blame squarely on public schools. That is non-sequitur. The schools do not create the economic conditions that put the mother in this position. The schools do not prevent the mother from gaining employment that would provide better pay. The schools do not control rent payments to landlords. The schools do, however, provide learning opportunities and stability to the communities besieged by poverty. Schools cannot cure that. 

KnowTheFactsOSD
KnowTheFactsOSD

@FlaTony @dcdcdc A good education is critical to breaking cycles of poverty, which are often generational, by equipping students with the skills necessary to graduate and compete in the job market. Georgia's current students are the future workforce of our state, and a strong educational foundation is critical to their success in that area. 


If a school continually fails to prepare its students for academic and economic success, those children will suffer. For example, kids who cannot read often don't graduate. If a student doesn't graduate, they are unlikely to find and keep a job. The cycle of poverty, which is not confined to children of one sex, race or geographic area, is destined to continue.


The Opportunity School District will provide additional resources and accountability measures to struggling schools, helping the children trapped in them succeed and pull ahead from behind. In New Orleans, where a similar, bipartisan program was implemented, student literacy rates increased while drop out rates decreased. It is a safety net for students in failing schools and will not adversely affect students in non-failing schools. It will afford students forced to attend failing schools the same educational benefits that other students already receive. 


It is no secret that underperforming schools disproportionately affect minority communities or economically depressed areas. How can we expect children to break out of cycles of poverty if their school system is not equipping them with the knowledge and skills they need to do so? How can we elevate our youth if we lock them in schools that do not meet their needs? The problem is clear, and the opportunity to do something about it is here. We just need the courage to do what is required of us.

KnowTheFactsOSD
KnowTheFactsOSD

@newsphile @dcdcdc 60% of New Orleans students—some 40,000 young people—went to a school in 2004 that performed in the bottom tenth of all Louisiana public schools. In 2014, just 13% attended a school in Louisiana’s bottom tenth. In 2004, 31% of New Orleans students performed on grade level on state assessments, earning “Basic” or above. In 2014, that figure had doubled to 62%. A ninth-grader entering a New Orleans public school in fall 2000 had barely a 50/50 chance to graduate on time four years later (54%). 73% of students now graduate on time. 


In Tennessee, in 2012, the cutoff for the bottom 5% of schools in Tennessee was an average of 16% proficiency.  In 2015 (post-ASD implementation), the average was 26% proficiency. All ASD elementary and middle schools averaged the second-highest level of growth on the state’s student growth scale. Four out of five direct-run Achievement Schools achieved the highest level of growth on the state’s student growth scale