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RETIREMENT If you aren’t fluent in OSD-speak, I invite you to visit the GAE website in order to become so. Defeating this ballot amendment will take you being knowledgeable of what is involved and what we are against. LIKE US ON FACEBOOK facebook.com/GAERetired 28 | KNOW • Volume 14 Issue 2 British playwright Tom Stoppard penned that “Every exist is an entrance to someplace else.” As we exit the 2015-16 school year, GAE’s legislative victories are ones to celebrate: • Final legislative approval was given to a $23.7 billion state budget, which has $300 million allocated to eliminate tacker furloughs, increase instructional days, and increase teacher salaries, allowing up to a 3 percent one-time salary increase. • SB 364 was signed by the Governor. A step in the right direction, this TKES and testing legislation accomplishes a number of much needed reforms such as reducing the number of state-mandated student tests from 32 to 24, allowing for fewer observations of veteran, high-performing educators, reducing the percentage that state-required standardized tests for teachers of record from 50 to 30, and increasing the percentage of the school year that a student must attend an educator’s class before the student’s test score count toward the educator’s evaluation from 65 to 90. • The recommendations of the Governor’s Education Reform Commission (ERC) were not brought forth as legislation. However, as we enter the next part of the journey, much still needs to be done. • The days are quickly passing before the General Election. On the November 8 ballot will be 24 words that could change the face of public education as we know it. The State Takeover of Public Schools (aka Opportunity School District—OSD) ballot amendment ultimately would allow up to 100 of Georgia’s 127 “failing” schools to be part a statewide school district managed by a state school superintendent appointed by and accountable to only the Governor with local resources (including facilities) being appropriated as part of the OSD. If you aren’t fluent in OSD-speak, I invite you to visit the GAE website in order to become so. Defeating this ballot amendment will take you being knowledgeable of what is involved and what we are against. It also means being aware of what we are for: Community Schools. Please visit GAE’s website (early and often) in order to become an expert about this initiative that has been unsuccessful in the three states on which it is predicated: Louisiana, Michigan, and Tennessee. The public will be looking to you as part of Georgia’s public education workforce to be articulate about this issue; develop your elevator speech and use it often, talking to your friends and relatives and others in your sphere of influence. • ERC recommendations will most likely manifest themselves as legislation in the 2017 General Assembly. Some positive recommendations were made by this body— 34 individuals, none of whom were a current practicing teacher—such as Increasing funding for Pre-K by $50 million using lottery funds, working to align teachers’ salaries to meet or exceed the national average for teacher pay. and implementing a state-level funding program for providing compensation for teachers supervising teacher interns. However, this group of reformers—most of whom had not not current ties to public education in Georgia—did make some recommendations what were not user-friendly including implementing a new funding formula based on the grade level of students along with any special characteristics (i. e., gifted, low income, special needs, etc.) they may possess and eliminating the state salary schedule that gives step increases for years of experience and advanced degrees and replacing it with local school district compensation models. What’s to be done? Enter the world of being visible, vocal, and vigilant. The House Education Committee recently held its first listening session. Ferret out when the other listening sessions around the state will be held. Attend if you can; send your thoughts to members of both the House and the Senate Education Committee if you cannot. You have a story to tell about what is happening in your school. Tell your story. Keeping your thoughts to yourself about what can be done to improve public education in Georgia will serve no one; sharing your truth will help to improve public education in general and thus attract the best and brightest to our profession. If you and everyone who is a GAE member in the state of Georgia each did at least three things to defeat the State Takeover of Public Schools ballot amendment and to impact the recommendations brought forward by the ERC, we would exit having to be reactive and enter being proactive. The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step… A MESSAGE FROM GAE-RETIRED PRESIDENT KAREN SOLHEIM


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