Letter to the Editor: Accounts of BOE's Charter Meeting Inaccurate

Cherokee teachers weren't instructed to show up early or wear black, the writer says.

Editor's note: Thursday, the Cherokee County Board of Education voted to wait until June 24 to decide the fate of Cherokee Charter Academy. The meeting will be held at 6 p.m. in the 1,000-seat auditorium. Below is a letter from the wife of a teacher.

• • •

Today, I am proud to be a Cherokee County resident and pleased to support our local school district, its employees and our selfless, dedicated K-12 teachers. As a retired math teacher (now a stay-at-home mother) and a spouse of a CCSD teacher, I am appalled at the backlash that our county’s teachers and staff have received in the wake of the "charter school drama."

As a teacher and a mother of two future students in our public school system, I understand the desire to provide the best education possible for our children. This was one of the main reasons that we relocated our family to Cherokee County from south Florida–it is an exceptional county that carries Georgia’s test scores each year, with schools meeting or exceeding AYP on a yearly basis. Our teachers are the cream of the crop–every local friend of mine rants and raves about their positive experiences with our CCSD teachers, who are doing more with less every year. My husband reveres his school, his students and his hardworking co-workers, who dedicate each and every day to educating and changing the lives of students in a positive manner. To sum it up, we have nothing but gratitude and admiration for our school system here in Cherokee.

With that said, I write this letter to combat the idea that our CCSD teachers are close-minded, selfish county advocates who respond to fear of "change" or "competition" from another publicly funded school. I am angered by the outpouring of false information about our teachers receiving instruction to wear black to the and to show up early in order to prevent CCA supporters from entering the building. This is inaccurate and did not happen.

Additionally, we did not receive any sort of official notice regarding furlough days, pay cuts or job losses. These came in the form of rumors and assumptions by teachers. Lo and behold, they were correct. We were told by our superintendent that our teachers and students may face an additional three furlough days this upcoming year if CCA’s charter application is approved. Let us keep in mind that this is in addition to the already slated four furlough days due to our dismal county budget.

Can anyone blame CCSD teachers and staff for showing up to support their jobs at the most recent school board meeting? If educating students was what you lived for, would you not wholeheartedly oppose the idea of losing them–and valuable tax dollars–to another entity? If my job, my livelihood and those that I care about the most at my job (students) were on the line, you can bet that I would be front and center, proudly stating my concerns. I am not on the front line as a teacher at the moment, but my support for our teachers here in Cherokee is unwavering nonetheless.

All in all, I wish we could "all just get along" as a recent mentioned. But if getting along entails punishing every CCSD teacher and student in the form of additional furlough days, shortening our already shortened calendar year, I’d rather not. Providing a "choice" for one group, while simultaneously harming another, does not sound like getting along to me.

Ashley Cline, Canton

Rod Johnson June 23, 2011 at 04:06 AM
I'm curious: How come Cobb Cty and Fulton Cty can manage co-existence with Charter schools but Cherokee cannot? When Indian Knoll public school opens soon, it will cost Millions to operate (on top of the millions to build). Ms. Cline, are your furlough days increasing when this public school opens? Clearly, this will be "less students, less tax dollars", according to your own posted logic above, since tax dollars will have to be used to pay the numerous new Indian Knoll teachers. Right? I hope you're protesting this outrageous new public school which, by Dr. P's own logic, will result in less $$ for you and more furlough days. "Simple math", right? "Less dollars, less students", right? Rest assured though--regardless of how many schools open/close, Dr. P will continue to rake in about $200,000/year. That will NEVER change. I hope the CCSD implements a foreign-language-teaching plan for CC public schools. It'd be nice for our children to learn a foreign language at a young age. Charter schools are able to pull this off already. Why can't our "great" public schools? Cherokee taxpayers are already on the hook for millions annually. Surely this can be achieved, right? And again: How can Cobb and Fulton Counties pull off Charter schools but Cherokee cannot? Are they better? More competent? Is this just too difficult for Cherokee County to pull off? Are they just better counties to live in at the end of the day?
Rod Johnson June 23, 2011 at 04:12 AM
PS: Ms. Cline, I wish America would do the right thing and immediately withdraw troops from the lost, stupid wars in Afghanistan and Libya and give you and the American public school system the billions we're instead wasting on people who hate us. It's a policy of insanity that should make any American who loves their child weep. I am NOT against public schools. I, and every other charter school-desiring parent, merely want the best education we can provide for our children. I do not feel the particular district I'm in now is doing a very good job at this recognizably formidable, important task. I feel a charter school is my best option and feel that other CC parents should have this option as well, rather than being trapped in underperforming CCSDs. Private schooling is too expensive and I am not a fan of home-schooling, as I feel the social experience of school is as-important as the 3 Rs.
CCSD SLP June 23, 2011 at 02:58 PM
Rod, the reason Cobb and Fulton can "coexist" with charter schools is because their districts consistently do not make AYP! Charter schools have their place in districts that struggle to meet the mark. Cherokee county is NOT one of those districts! I'm sorry you can't afford private schooling - neither can I. Believe me, I struggled with it as I grew up in private school. However, what I'm realizing since being in CCSD is that my children are getting a far superior education than even I did! The technology incorporated into the classrooms, the projects they are given, the teaching methods used, and the level of academic excellence that is expected from the teachers in this district is far above anything I've experienced before we moved to CCSD. It has been the best move I could have made for my kids! CCA having a foreign language program as the ONLY academic difference is NOT enough to throw my kids into an experimental project. As for opening Indian Knoll - first of all, CCSD OWNS the property and the building. It was developed using SPLOST funds (the penny sales tax) that is specifically for building and renovating schools. The teachers are those that are being relocated from other existing CCSD schools. Hiring by CCSD of new teachers into the district is extremely limited because of the budget. Any new hiring I know of is to replace those exiting/retiring teachers. So there should be relatively little impact on the district financially.
Frank Jones June 24, 2011 at 07:42 PM
Charter Schools USA wants to siphon Cherokee County money for Business GREED! They want to charge a 10% management fee (i.e. $750,000 per year) and above-market lease rates for the building! They will siphon over $1 million from our children's education each and every year. DON"T LET THEM! Follow the money and you'll see!
Christine June 25, 2011 at 04:59 PM
Just my opinion but that is EXACTLY what is wrong with this country.. a govt. job should not be paying 320K by any stroke of the imagination. Many skilled surgeons I know are lucky to make 320K in a good year. And as a teacher making a paltry salary by comparison these kinds of figures should outrage you as much as they do me. No wonder this country is broke.


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