‘Teachers, suck it up, stop complaining’

Tue, 11/03/2009 - 4:16pm
By: Letters to the ...

In response to Name Withheld and Mr. Joseph Jarrell regarding, “Why not cut these school budget items?”

A message to all Fayette County teachers: Suck it up, hunker down, batten down the hatches, and prepare for hard times, but stop complaining.

Have you all forgotten that you work for a government bureaucracy? What do you expect from a government school system? Waste and excess is an inevitable byproduct, and to expect your precious FCBOE to be an exception is naive.

As for teachers making the argument that it’s “unfair” for Fayette County educators to earn less than any other metro school system, think about what you are saying.

Of course you make less than other metro area systems. The school system can pay us less simply because we teach better students. It’s a trade-off, but many of you don’t realize this because you’ve never taught outside of the county.

“I can go to Clayton County and make more money.” OK, venture beyond the county lines and try that out. Many of you won’t last a week once the reality of public education outside of Fayette County smacks you in the face, but your old positions won’t be available for your return, since folks are lined up to get into this system.

And Mr. Joseph Jarrell, whom I have the utmost respect for, I respectfully disagree. The teachers of Fayette County are not our most valuable asset. The students of this county and their families are what make this system great, and I’m saying that as a former graduate and current teacher in Fayette County. Folks, you all need a reality check.

Pragmatic Fayette County Teacher

Name withheld by request

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Submitted by milton06 on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 7:03pm.

What an absolute ridiculous thing to say that teachers “work for a government bureaucracy, and a government school and what else should be expected”. So, just live with it, “suck it up and stop complaining”! Well sir/madam, over “my dead body”! I am sick and tired of this mentality, as we all should be. I for one expect ACCOUNTABILITY. With half of my local taxes dollars going to support the school system, I expect no less value for my tax dollars as I do when I direct the spending of each of the dollars it takes to run my household. How dare you just shrug off the inept spending decisions that have been and are being made by the administration and school board as just another government bureaucracy that we expect to waste our money. Yes, every government entity that receives state funding has had to make cutbacks, but none as deep as Fayette County. Who has asked the question as to why that may be? Where is the accountability? Where is the Fayette County reserve fund (rainy day fund) that other school systems have to weather these hard times? Yes, other school systems have furloughed staff OR cut pay, but not both as those rainy day funds were used to offset cuts from the state. I for one am sick of hearing a member of the school board explaining why we are in such a financial mess; the state keeps cutting back on the monies they have been promised after the budget was set so the board has had to “dip” into the reserves to make up the difference. Fayette was dipping each year as the “good times rolled” and left with “only a portion of one month’s expenditures” per Laura Brock when the economy made its downturn. Here, sir/madam is where the accountability comes into play. This administration and board has a fiduciary responsibility to the citizens and taxpayers of this county to make planning and budgeting decisions not only for the present operation of the school system but planning for the future. I think that everyone whose funding comes from government sources knows that revenues streams follow the business cycle. It is unconscionable to spend like “welfare queens” when tax revenues are flowing with no thought of tomorrow and the inevitable downturn. Think if I remember correctly, the millage rate has been cut for the past several years. Sound like the responsible thing to do to you? Give the taxpayers a few dollars back as we now watch our property values start their progressive spiral down following the direction of the school system. As best I can remember, the state has been making cuts since 2003. Don’t know about you, but I think I would have considered this an expected trend by now and been much more proactive about how I spent money and where cutbacks could be made. Seems like other school systems got the message and did something about it….built up reserve funds and cut back on spending or maybe Fayette County is the only system in the state that was affected. Hmmm, which could it be? Dr. DeCotis was quoted in an article not long ago that Fayette didn’t cut programs that other systems have and in fact in this paper is an extensive article about what makes Fayette “special”. The PR and HR Departments did an exemplary job “spinning” that one! Ask the State what they recommend that each system have in their reserve fund and that amount is suggested to be 12% of one year expenditures. Go ahead, ask a board member how much they have had in reserves for the past 5 years or longer and see what answer you get. Make them accountable!!

Sure I’m mad as hell and I am going to complain. I get up everyday and do my job. I do not take my personal disappointment in the classroom with me. Everyday I try to improve in the job I do teaching the children that have been entrusted to me. I spend more time with other parent’s kids than I do with my own! The 8 hours I spend at school is just a portion of the day that I spend as an educator. I have 3 college degrees (at my expense) and have spent countless hours during the summer improving my teaching skills. I earn every penny of the salary that I am paid and I am not going to be modest. I moved to this county because of the school system and am proud to work here. I am surrounded by professionals that get up everyday and do exactly the same thing that I do. Ask any teacher who transfers to Fayette from another system and they will tell you that there is a special quality of the people who work here. Mr. Jarrell was exactly right in saying that the employees of this county are its most important asset. I just want you to imagine replacing every teacher that works in the system today. Be honest, what do you think Fayette Schools would be like? I am worried about the future of our school system. We are losing very valuable and experienced employees.

My job is not making decisions about the operation of the school system. Others are hired and elected to do this job. My expectation of them is that they do their job, just as I do the job I was hired to do. From my perspective, the employees of this county have been let down by the board and administration that have failed at performing their job. (Where is the Evaluation Form I get to use to evaluate their performance?) Their lack of foresight and planning has affected every person in this county. I don’t care if you are a parent with a child in the system, or a property owner, or a business owner. The quality of our school system affects all of our lives. How could this happen? We should all be asking for accountability.

The professional associations that have represented teachers, administrators and all staff members in this county have done yeoman’s work this past year standing up to the interests of the employees. If anyone is naive enough to think that we would not have had our benefits cut last year without the work of Joseph Jarrell and Dana Camp they have not been paying attention. (Oh, by the way, you were inaccurate in attributing the article about “Why not cut these school budget cuts” to Mr. Jarrell.) Their stream of information to employees forced spending decisions to be made that would have remained if we all had just “sucked it up” and not complained! The countless hours they have spent attending meetings and keeping their members informed is to be commended. These individuals and others who have spoken up are trying the best they can to make this board and administration accountable. You are the one that needs a reality check!

Submitted by MacTheKnife on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 2:20pm.

.... and forget that you are even a teacher. From an outsider's perspective, are you happy with the direction of the school system? Guess what, teachers are having to work WITHIN that declining system with bad personnel, bad decisions and bad financial management. Teachers would have a right to complain even if they weren't subject to the pay-cuts and furloughs. And for those who think the three days in the first semester were all they will be furloughed I say NOT UNLESS POLITICAL PRESSURE FORCES THE BOARD TO MAKE CUTS IN PLACES OTHER THEN IN TEACHER'S SALARIES.

As one who works with demographics and properties in a legal and analytical way, I see a tremendous loss in wealth and a major decline in your tax base as a direct result of the recent decline of your school system. That's the issue I have with what I am seeing.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 11:10am.

"And Mr. Joseph Jarrell, whom I have the utmost respect for, I respectfully disagree. The teachers of Fayette County are not our most valuable asset. The students of this county and their families are what make this system great, and I’m saying that as a former graduate and current teacher in Fayette County. Folks, you all need a reality check."

My kid has had good teachers, and bad ones, more good than bad in Fayette county.

A good teacher is a wonderful thing for a child. Mine, being a teenager, will not take my advise on much of anything. Yet, he/she has a teacher or two that they make a point of trying to get in their class. My kid respects them and their judgement. It makes me feel good that they value someone's wisdom and I'm very grateful they can make a dent in my child.

By the same token, a burned out, pZZZZ off teacher is a very bad thing. We have some very good people here that I would hate to see else where.

I don't think of the teachers as complaining about the cut. We are all having to do on less. What I think is at the heart of their complaint is that they are taking a cut, while so much money has been squandered. Everyone who passes Rivers is reminded of it.

Submitted by Bonkers on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 1:24pm.

Of course waste in other places is always pointed out when one's money or job is in jeopardy. It always is---human nature.

However I believe that the feelings the teachers (some of them) have is more something else than others waste.

For 150 years many civil servants (paid by taxes) have actually been satisfied with jobs paying less than others due to other advantages. Time off in the summer, sick leave, pensions or savings contributions, retirement, and almost assured employment, if not here, somewhere. That is not to have detriment to their dedication to educating children, which many have.
Yes there are some clunkers teaching--some even incompetent with terrible educations themselves. Happens everywhere, but harder to correct in the school system.

I wouldn't get overly concerned about Rivers School be excessive. If everything had gone well with the economy, chances are that it would be open and all classes would have less students.
Just so someone didn't profit from it.

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 8:09pm.

the red flags were up everywhere in 08 and most people got out of the water.

For the past ..several years...the number of kids, even without out of county kids, had been declining...

'Build it and they will come' was suicidal, but the victim, DOA of overdose, was the teachers, taxpayers and kids.

The wrong people's lives were gambled with. Next time some BOE gamble, they should use their own chips.

Submitted by allegedteacher on Sat, 11/07/2009 - 7:37am.

Ma'am, I'm very sorry I have offended your sensibilities by complaining about my pay cut and furlough days. I must have forgotten that you have the pragmatism and wisdom of years and experience to put me and my disappointed colleagues in our place. Oh, and that thing about the constitutional right to freedom of speech...it's only for YOU, right?

Submitted by PTC1994 on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 7:38pm.

REALITY CHECK! How would you like to have to take 8 furlough days?? If you worked at Georgia State University you would be mandated to take 8 furlough days, with the potential of 2 more! Other state government agencies have been hit harder than the public schools. Good luck finding any government job in the state where people aren't taking furlough days. Bunch of childish prima donnas!


Submitted by Bonkers on Fri, 11/06/2009 - 3:38am.

Better than 365 days!

Submitted by PTC1994 on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 3:59pm.

Tchr1 posts some pointed, risky, and thought provoking responses to some of the comments made by Fayette Co. teachers upset about the pay cuts. The general type of response seems to be a bunch of presumptive, personal attacks and putdowns (ex. “You must be a young educator . . . living with mommy and daddy,” “You are not so bold to add your name,” “I doubt that you are really a teacher in the county,” “Surely, you can't be teaching our children”). So you have virtually nothing substantive to say about the points made? What a bunch of spoiled, whiney babies! You should be ashamed and embarrassed of yourselves. Pathetic!

Submitted by Andre65 on Fri, 11/06/2009 - 8:06am.

tchr1 is a member for just a few days (and it was noted that he was blogging during school hours on more than one occasion) and then suddenly ptc1994 appears and has tchr1's back. That is what is truly pathetic!! Yes ptc, tchr1 makes valid points. It doesn't matter if there is a mass exodus of our teachers because people are knocking each other over to work in this county. No job will go unfilled and we will continue to have the same quality teachers that we have now. All is right in our wonderful county and everyone will be happy next year.

Submitted by PTC1994 on Fri, 11/06/2009 - 12:01pm.


Submitted by Brooks Parent on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 8:01pm.

You obviously are drinking the kool-aid too! But then again, you may be a young educator still living at home with mommy and daddy. So a pay cut wouldn't hurt you. You, my friend, are the one that is naive. But obviously, you are not so bold to add your name to your letter. Wouldn't your coworkers love to know how supportive you are?

Submitted by PTC1994 on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 3:31pm.


Submitted by Bonkers on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 5:34am.

And again, what was your name?

Submitted by wildcat on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 6:46am.

You must be a board member posing as a teacher, or related to a board member, right? How funny! Have you ever worked in another county? I have!! If you have taught in Clayton, Fulton, Dekalb or Atlanta, then you must be painfully aware that we have numerous students enrolled in our system that display the unbecoming characteristics of those students in the surrounding counties to which you refer. Some schools more so than others. And some classes more so than others. As the housing market continues to plunge I think it is safe to assume that we will attract more of that type student, don't you think so? One thing that you appear to be forgetting is, that for many of us, our jobs are our means of supporting our families and not just a hobby (as some would believe). People are going to look else where. I know that one board member was overheard stating that the teachers would not look else where, but I fear she may be wrong. You stated that people are lining up to work in this county? Where do you get that information?

Submitted by heatjam on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:16pm.

Where are they going to look? If they want out, so be it...I bet there are many who would jump at the chance to teach our Fayette County students. Personally, I want my kiddos to have teachers who actually want to be here regardless. Thankfully, this seems to be the case in my children's situation.

As the saying goes...the grass is always greener on the other side.

Submitted by Andre65 on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:31pm.

I believe we all want teachers that want to be here regardless of the money, but the bottom line is that the teachers aren't very happy and some simply can't afford to work here. So they'll go elsewhere. I doubt your kids teachers would tell you that. It wouldn't be very professional. The teachers that I talk to are exploring options in the surrounding counties. Several are looking at jobs outside the education field. I think it's great that your kids' teachers are happy to be here regardless of the pay cut. I know that one of my kid's teachers is not. It's frustrating for all involved.

Submitted by heatjam on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:40pm.

the grass is always greener on the other side. You don't realize how good you have it until you don't have it anymore.

Submitted by wildcat on Thu, 11/05/2009 - 6:17am.

Exactly, heatjam, apply your "don't realize how good you have it until you no longer have it" logic to a chunk of your paycheck. I think you are beginning to understand how teachers feel. And for some, it is not a matter of adjusting the budget; it's a matter of finding another means of income because one has to do whatever it takes to keep food on the table and the bills paid. Don't you agree? If you were being attacked would you lie back and enjoy it? Hunker down and stop complaining? Put up with it because the "grass is always greener on the other side?" Or would you do whatever it takes to get out of the situation? You're very lucky that the teachers of your kids are not in a situation like that.

Submitted by tchr1 on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 1:52pm.

I’ll translate your politically correct language so the public can understand what you are trying to say. The student body in some Fayette County schools resembles that of South Fulton, Clayton, and DeKalb as more Black and Mexican families flee sub-standard school systems and high foreclosure rates in neighboring counties. As Black and Mexican students migrate to Fayette, degenerate culture brought in by these “unbecoming” students has made some of our schools as lousy as those in neighboring systems. So to sum it up, some Fayette schools mirror those of South Fulton, Clayton, and DeKalb rather than the traditional White schools many residents have become accustomed to.

There ya go; I think that is what you were trying to say. Well, I guess you could always build a wall if it bothers you so much, but Fayette has a lot further to go before it truly resembles South Fulton or Clayton, so your argument doesn’t really work unless you have a crystal ball.

And to answer your questions, no, I am not, nor would I ever be a school board member. Yes, I have taught in one of the “unbecoming” school systems you referred to. Yes, when the county was still hiring, all you had to do was go to an FCBOE job-fair to see lines of teachers looking to find employment in this reputable system, and unlike you (it looks like you teach at one of our less “unbecoming” schools), I teach at one of the “unbecoming” schools you are referring to “wildcat”.

Submitted by jmatthews on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:33pm.

You think Fayette teachers should be paid less because they teach better kids??? What about Cobb, Forsyth, North Fulton, and Gwinnett teachers? Why are these teachers paid substantially more than Fayette teachers? Why aren't those teachers paid less because THEY teach better students?

As has been stated, I doubt that you are really a teacher in the county. In fact, I hope you are not. Your lack of logic is frightening. Surely, you can't be teaching our children.

Submitted by Andre65 on Wed, 11/04/2009 - 9:17pm.

Thanks for the translation. Aren't you just a smart cookie? I sub in the county and have worked in almost all of the schools. There is no denying that things are very different from when I went to school in this county. Things are different from when I first started subbing 10 years ago. I think you know what I mean, but go ahead and translate my comment for the public at large. My question is, why are you blogging during the school day?

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