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The Art of Teaching: Letter Number One to Governor Deal and State School Superintendent Barge of Georgia

Dear Governor Deal and Superintendent Barge,

As sitting elected officials of Georgia, the next year will challenge each of you to think courageously about your views of K-12 education and the basis for your positions. Since you will be running against each other in the primary next year, you will have many opportunities to talk about your positions on topics such as charter schools, vouchers, the Common Core, high-stakes testing, using student test scores to evaluate teachers, and the “achievement gap.

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Here are some questions you might want to think about.

  • Why do you support charter schools when the research shows that public schools actually outperform charters?

  • Why do you think Georgia should continue using student achievement tests as the principle criteria to evaluate students and schools, as well as teachers?

  • You received a letter from GREATER, a consortium of Georgia university professors who believe the use of value added measures in teacher and leader evaluation will likely lead to negative educational, social, and emotional outcomes for Georgia’s children.  How did you react to the letter?  Do you agree with these Georgia professors?  Why?

  • What do you think caused the cheating scandal in Atlanta?  Do you think there is any connection between the cheating that was exposed in Atlanta and the obsession we have with high-stakes testing?  Why?

  • Did you know that Georgia’s Race to the Top project has contractual agreements with Teach for America (TFA) and The New Teacher Project in the amount of $7,839,994 or 11% of the total spent by RTT?  What do you think of this? Do think the state should pay these private firms a head hunters fee for Georgia school districts to hire inexperienced, non certified, and part-time teachers?  Do you know how teachers are prepared at Georgia State, the University of Georgia or any of the other colleges in the state?  How do they compare to TFA?

Julian Vasquez Heilig posted this quote on his website, Cloaking Inequity, and I think it is especially relevant here as you explain and debate the education policies that will guide education in Georgia starting in 2015.

Cowardice asks the question: Is it safe? Expediency asks the question: Is it politic? Vanity asks the question: Is it popular? But conscience asks the question: Is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular…but one must take it because it’s right.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Governor Deal and State Superintendent Barge, how will you act on the education issues that are facing the state of Georgia?  What is right for you?

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Jack Hassard

Jack Hassard is a former high school science teacher and Professor Emeritus of Science Education, Georgia State University. While at Georgia State he was coordina...