Teachers send their message to legislators - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Teachers send their message to legislators

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December 2, 2002

Albany- The Georgia Association of Educators honored dozens of Southwest Georgia's Senators and Representatives at its annual Legislative banquet. But they weren't there just to have dinner. They wanted to make their voice heard, just as they did on election day by ousting Governor Barnes.

"The way he rammed this so-called reform down their throats without listening to them, without talking to them, I think caused a backlash among educators, and I think a great majority of them voted for Sonny Perdue for governor," Bert Wagnon of the Georgia Association of Educators.

The dinner provides a chance for teachers to present their agenda to lawmakers.

"We're very high on recruiting and retaining teachers, and the only way to get new teachers, new blood into the classrooms, we need to recruit young teachers and we need to give them a fair package, like fair dismissal. We also need to look at the salaries," says Westover High School veteran educator Shirley Paramore.

It also gives legislators an opportunity to hear from those educators on the front line and take what they've heard back to the capital.

"One of those is to increase funding for the arts and the music programs, and that's something I've been in favor of for a while. Giving teachers more time to do the planning is also something I highly favor," adds State Senator Michael Meyer Von Bremen.

"They want adequate funding, they want to have adequate resources for teacher training," explains District 2 U.S. Representative Sanford Bishop. While the educators say their focus is on the students, they definitely have their eyes on the legislation that affects the way they run their classrooms.

G.A.E. leaders want the General Assembly to take a new look at the education reform bill which they say doesn't allow teachers to focus on helping their students learn. They also want lawmakers to help schools that have low student achievement records and reduce class size in all grade levels.

Posted at 10:25 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com