Bigger Class Sizes, Bigger Voter Base?

May 24, 2010 10:58 am

by Ron Daniels · 34 comments

As reported by the AJC, the State School Board has removed classroom size caps for the time being. This is not a surprising turn of events as many local school boards are facing a decreased budget and have been forced to implement RIF (Reduction In Force) policies to eliminate teaching positions.

The board vote means that Georgia school districts can raise class size by 5, 10, 15 — or as many students as they choose — without seeking a waiver from the state board of education. But board members contended that local school boards can be trusted to act responsibly.

“We have got to trust the local school boards are going to do right by their students and their student achievement,” said State School Superintendent Kathy Cox after some board members balked at eliminating any caps on class size.

“We don’t have a choice. We didn’t give them enough money,” said Cox. Cox noted that in the last year state funding to schools has been cut by nearly $1 billion. She and other board members argued that they should not micromanage or impose increased regulations at the same time Georgia schools are dealing with the worst financial crisis in their history.

Education is where the majority of the state budget is invested and as noted elsewhere this morning, teachers have in the past taken credit for being a force in the political landscape. A constrained budget has implications, naturally, in the race for State Superintendent – but I would watch for Governor candidates to ramp up rhetoric in regard to their plans for education to try and capitalize on the educator vote.

ByteMe May 24, 2010 at 11:32 am

Remind me: when cap sizes were put in place was that a constitutional amendment or just a law or what? Didn’t the people vote for it? Can the state board just say “ok, the people’s vote doesn’t matter”? I need a bit more info here.

Ronald Daniels May 24, 2010 at 11:52 am

I’m not sure when the cap sizes were put into place or by what method, however I do know that this increase was provided for in HB 908. But I see no indication that it has been signed yet.

ZazaPachulia May 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm

nice regurgitation, Ronnie. One post in and already you’re up to snuff.

Ronald Daniels May 24, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I aim to please. You aim too, please.

GOPwits May 24, 2010 at 12:52 pm

Georgia plans on going backwards towards education reform… Seems like a bad strategy to me…

It’s like a NASCAR driver saying, I’ll just stop, and when the other cars lap me, I’ll speed up and actually be first – except – he’s a lap behind…

To me, that’s the shape of Georgia’s Educational System.

This thing – this educational system in Georgia needs comprehensive reform. Here is the best way to do that and the political person who pushes this will win votes:

Elect the State School Board by Congressional District. The State School Board Chairman runs Statewide. Then they appoint a Superintendent of Education similar to that of the Chancellor of the Regents system. You want more democracy and participation – this is the way to go.

This creates more accountability to the taxpayers, more transparency for the voters, and genuinely removes the veil of secrecy that takes place with 55% of Georgia’s budget.

benevolus May 24, 2010 at 5:32 pm

I concur!

John Konop May 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm

We had Kathy Cox increase her staff at the DOE by 25% since 2006 and the local districts took care of high paid management while cutting teachers. This is not going to fly with voters.

Before we laid-off teachers we should of done the following:
1) Cut the DOE by at least 50%
2) Cut all administrators salaries by 20% making over 6 figures.
3) Cut all administrators by 20%
4) Require all administrators to teach 1 class.
5) Charge a fuel fee to make bus service revenue neutral
6) Charge a fee for all extra activity at the school to make it revenue neutral
7) Put a freeze all new building and see if we can use cross utilize existing space ie high school class space for colleges courses at night.
8) Put a freeze on all travel and entertainment expense at the local level as well as the DOE
9) Increase lunch fees at a rate that it becomes revenue neutral
10) Solicit volunteer community help for office and class room assistants
It is very difficult to ask people to sacrifice when management will not do the same!

AJC….At least four local superintendents earn more than the vice president of the United States and one earns nearly as much as the president.

As school districts face unprecedented budget cuts and collective layoffs of more than 1,500 teachers, superintendent compensation remains hefty, even with recent decreases.

The highest-paid superintendent in the metro area is Gwinnett’s Alvin Wilbanks, who earns $382,819, according to the Gwinnett school district. Wilbanks actually will make less than before because of furlough days…..

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/2010/05/24/do-we-have-to-pay-top-dollar-for-school-superintendents/

John Konop May 24, 2010 at 2:25 pm

FYI

MORE FUEL!!!!

…The AJC examined the oft-made charge that schools are not cutting many high-salaried central office while they slash and burn their way through the teacher ranks. Turns out it’s true.

The AJC analysis found that while metro school districts have laid off “central office staff,” most of those cuts are lower-salaried jobs, not high-paid administrators. (Many of these folks function as cabinets to the superintendents, and I think few leaders ever want to get rid of their personal posses.)….

http://blogs.ajc.com/get-schooled-blog/

Lady Thinker May 24, 2010 at 4:23 pm

I hear a collective ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhh’ from the administrators for bringing this topic up to share because they may fear that parents will call and ask the same questions. What’s the worst that can happen if your suggestions are not followed, Georgia becomes number 57 in education, after all the states and some of our territories as well as military bases worldwide? (While I realize that only the states’ educational systems and not military bases or territories are scored, I am being sarcastic).

As I recall but didn’t look up to refresh my memory, the U.S. has 16 territories with Puerto Rico residents being U.S. citizens, yet none of the territories pay federal income tax. I’m afraid if we don’t grab the educational bull by the horns, total and complete last in the rating is where could be where we are headed.

ieee May 24, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I think the politicians should just forget about this class size and teacher reduction nonsense and continue to campaign on their normal “protect the children from SEX OFFENDERS” platform. They need to tell Georgians that these cuts HAD to be made in order to continue Georgia’s SEX OFFENDER witch hunt. Most Georgians love that so I know they don’t mind sacrificing education for it.

Unfortunately for the witch hunters, one of their pet panacea laws was recently ruled illegal. As was expected, a federal court ruled it was illegal for the Criminal State of Georgia to force people listed on their SEX OFFENDER Registry to give the them their e-mail addresses, online identifiers, etc. Georgia’s criminal legislators just passed an amended law that removed that harassment so I think they figured that until the U.S. regressed further into an un-American, unrecognizable, P.O.S., third-world country, they wouldn’t be able to get that law to stand so they just gave up for now.

There are still quite a number of people in Georgia’s jails and prison who were convicted of violating the “e-mail address” law though. It has cost a tidy sum to keep them there and it will cost more as they demand their release from illegal custody. I wonder how many teacher’s jobs it has cost. No matter, the witch hunt is going to cost billions more. And as we have seen from the War on Drugs, it doesn’t matter how unsuccessful and idiotic a government propaganda campaign/war is, there is hardly a limit to the amount of money and other resources that our governments will waste in order to not protect us from anything.

Mayonnaise May 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm

Give folks a $5000 voucher and they’ll figure it out on their own.

ByteMe May 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Written like someone with absolutely no idea how much private school costs.

Mayonnaise May 24, 2010 at 2:04 pm

My worry, not yours…..”they’ll figure it out on their own”.

John Konop May 24, 2010 at 2:22 pm

Mayo,

Good luck selling 92% of parents on getting a 5k voucher for a school that cost close to 20k a year for a private high school in this economy.

At the end you only end up draining more money out of system creating even bigger class sizes. Do you work on the Barnes campaign team secretly?

analogkid May 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm

JK, are you suggesting that Barnes is for vouchers?

John Konop May 24, 2010 at 4:10 pm

No what I am saying is the JOHNSON voucher idea is a winning issue for Barnes. It was a small attempt at humor. But you know what they say if you have to explain the joke.

In all seriousness, Barnes is hoping the Johnson/Mayo crowd will jump into quicksand with that idea. His first video already confirmed that he make this election about jobs, schools and ethics. It did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that strategy.

And like it or not Karen Handel is the best chance the GOP has if the election is about the above issues. In tough times people are focused on real pocket book issues not gut level politics.

analogkid May 24, 2010 at 4:20 pm

Ah, OK. I missed the EJ connection. And yes, I agree with you. The voucher issue is a non-starter for me as well, although I’m afraid I don’t agree that KH is the solution.

John Konop May 24, 2010 at 4:30 pm

analogkid,

Mayo is on the Johnson team.

Mayonnaise May 24, 2010 at 9:36 pm

analogkid,

Konop is on the Handel team.

Lady Thinker May 24, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Lady Thinker is a Handel supporter.

Mayonnaise May 24, 2010 at 9:40 pm

Had this argument before with you and I can provide links to 1o Christian schools whose annual tuition is between $5k-$8k.

Lady Thinker May 24, 2010 at 10:01 pm

Mayo,

Which one of these people is you? Or will you just ignore me?

1) Derrick Dickey (Deputy Comms Director in Gov’s Office and Comms Director for 2006 Campaign) now lead consultant for Eric Johnson.

2) Ben Fry (body guy for Sonny) now campaign manager for Eric Johnson.

3) Edens Davis & Joey Lee low-level staffers for Perdue campaign and now Eric Johnson’s Campaign.

4) Glen Bolger and Public Opinion Strategies — pollster for Perdue campaign, now for Eric Johnson’s campaign.

5) Rebecca Grant Commiskey — deputy finance director for Perdue campaign, Finance Director for Eric Johnson.

6) FSB Legal/Doug Chalmers — lawyer for Perdue campaign, now for Eric Johnson campaign.

Mayonnaise May 24, 2010 at 10:08 pm

None of the above …. I’m Sonny Purdue …. :) :) :)

John Konop May 24, 2010 at 10:13 pm

Mayo,

Are you fishing on the tax payers? :)

benevolus May 24, 2010 at 5:37 pm

I don’t have any kids, do I get $5000 too?

John Konop May 24, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Ask Mayo for the check. :)

Mayonnaise May 24, 2010 at 9:42 pm

No, but you eventually get your school mill-rate lowered due to turning over control of your county’s schools to the free market.

John Konop May 25, 2010 at 6:08 am

Mayo,

Why do private schools cost more?

TheEiger May 24, 2010 at 9:11 pm

Why don’t we try a few solutions that other nations (that are beating us in math and science) are using. Longer school years for one thing and longer school days. I would like a teacher to tell me that the first month of every school year is not just a overview of the previous year.

Our current system also teaches to test instead of teaching children “How to learn.” It isn’t the date that maters, but what happened on that date and what its long term impact was. We no longer teach or children to think, but teach them what to think. Yes, test are the easy things for teachers to grade, but essays and critical reading skills are much better for the student.

ByteMe May 24, 2010 at 10:17 pm

Longer school years for one thing and longer school days.

Costs more and Georgians’ claim they appreciate education, but are more willing to starve the schools to death and then claim it wasn’t useful anyway.

Other states get better results by spending more money. Georgians look at the money spent and complain that we would be getting better results if we make them “corporate schools” instead of “government schools” or eliminate waste or whatever, always ignoring the big problems with the way it’s really all about power and control and not at all about our kids’ education.

Lady Thinker May 24, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Great insight! A+

Mayonnaise May 24, 2010 at 10:46 pm

Spend, spend, spend.

ByteMe May 25, 2010 at 6:14 am

LIke I said….

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