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DICK YARBROUGH: Cobb public schoolteachers need to exercise political clout

Time:2018-02-20 17:24Shoes websites Click:

Opinion Education Columnist cobb county dick yarbrough

Dear Cobb County public schoolteachers:

Thank you for your ongoing efforts to pound a little knowledge into the heads of our next generation. Don’t forget that you are making a difference in young lives. This, while some members of the Cobb County legislative delegation — with help from a Cherokee County legislator — who seem inclined to give you the back of their hand.

Not only do you have to worry these days about your personal safety and that of those for whom you are responsible in the classroom, now you have to worry about Kool-Aid drinking Republican legislators sucking millions of dollars out of the state budget that could go to public education in order to raise the cap on income tax credits for those who want to donate to student scholarship organizations which would then provide for — voila! — private school scholarships.

This is just plain wrong. The state has not fully funded the Quality Education Act or restored austerity cuts dating back to the Perdue Administration and yet Rep. John Carson, R-northeast Cobb, continues his push to siphon more money from the state treasury. I guess we should thank him that he only wants $58 million these days. Originally, he was pushing for annual increases that would reach $180 million. Be grateful for all small favors.

Speaking of tax breaks, the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute estimated earlier this year that the dozen tax breaks lawmakers approved late in the 2017 session alone will cost the state treasury almost a half billion dollars over the next five years. So, what’s wrong with piling on a few million more?

In the meantime, Rep. Wes Cantrell, R-Woodstock, is promoting a bill that would give the state portion of K-12 funding to parents to use as they choose, including private schools. One of those sponsoring Cantrell’s bill is Rep. Ed Seltzer, R-Acworth.

One of the specious arguments from voucher proponents is “Why should parents who send their children to private schools or who homeschool them, have to pay state taxes for public schools since they don’t use them?” Given that logic, why should I pay taxes to fund improvements to the library at Georgia Tech as proposed in this year’s budget, since I don’t use the facility? Classrooms at Georgia State? Ditto. Nursing home care? Ditto again.

In the meantime, I hear nothing from these people about tackling the problems outside the schoolhouse door that impact your ability to teach kids to read and write, multiple and divide. Problems like poverty, transiency, hunger, drugs, discipline, apathetic parents or no parents at all. Chances are pretty good you won’t find most of those issues hanging around the private schoolhouse door. Unless I am mistaken, there is no law that says private schools have to keep kids that don’t measure up to their standards. So, what do they do? Ship them and their problems back to you. You don’t get to pick and choose.

Okay, so what can you do to withstand the bombardment? Write this down: In a democratic society, political decisions are made in only one of two ways — either with application of pressure or the absence thereof. You either apply pressure to get the wanted result or you make sure that there is as little pressure as possible.

The reason that cut-and-run legislators have been able to get away with their private school voucher scheme is simple. They feel no pressure from the public education community. None. Sadly, the education groups that represent some or all of you don’t speak with one voice because of their own territorial concerns. The legislators know this and act accordingly. They consider the education associations full of sound and fury and not much else.

Now, let’s talk about the application of pressure, schoolteachers. You can’t necessarily speak out publicly on the proposed actions of Cobb legislators who continue to push for more and more money for private school vouchers. But you sure can make your voice known this fall when you enter the privacy of the voting booth. You can be a powerful political force if you are united.

Don’t listen to the cut-and-run crowd blather about how much they admire and respect you for the hard job you have. If they do, throw up on their shoes. Ask them how they plan to support you, the public schoolteacher. And your school. And your students. Ask them why they don’t try to fix the problems you face daily instead of encouraging us to run from them. Get them to be specific.

If you let them continue to undermine our public education system and your future, you will have no one to blame but yourself. It won’t be easy getting their attention but it is worth the effort unless you want to see public education go the way of the buggy whip. Exercise your political clout.

The November elections are a long way off but I suggest you not forget our little chat today. Clip and save.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at dick@dickyarbrough.com; at P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139 or on Facebook at

Dick Yarbrough MUG

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