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AEA ad was misleading, poorly researched

Published 1:53pm Thursday, March 14, 2013

Dear editor,

The full page ad sponsored by the AEA teacher’s union (Saturday’s Outlook) really showed the union’s real mission, and it is not to improve education in Tallapoosa County.

This legislation that the AEA called a “secret” bill (gee, how did I find out about it?) is best demonstrated by the mom and dad that finally told the teenager that if they saw one more bad report card they were taking away the car keys! You can bet the teenager paid attention to their grades that next semester.

In the case of this bill, I will bet that every school administrator, and probably a lot of teachers, are busy finding out how they stand this year on their report card and asking some probing questions about how they can avoid “failing school” status.

As to Tallapoosa County, the AEA did not do their homework on several fronts.

First, one of the schools listed, Tallapoosa Alternative School, is no longer in existence. It was a separate school created for students with “one step out the door” usually for behavior issues.

Second, Councill Middle School will probably go off failing status this year. I know that because, unlike the AEA union bosses, I know and have extreme confidence in Superintendent Joe Windle and the teachers and administrators of Councill Middle School. They were working long before this bill was enacted to bring that school back into “passing” status.

Third, if the AEA had been truthful in their ad, they would have told you that there is no “official” list of schools that qualify as “failing”. The state superintendent is currently working on that list following the criteria contained in the bill. And yes, you can read that bill online – it is not “secret”.

As I read the criteria, I doubt if any Tallapoosa County school would meet the actual bill criteria for “failing.” The list quoted by the ad was circulated among the legislature prior to the voting as a current list of schools that have “consistently been low performing” which is not the criteria that is in the bill.

So everyone take a breath, and let’s wait for the real list to come out.

Everyone needs to understand that schools, especially in our area, rarely “fail” – and if they do, they promptly develop detailed corrective action plans to get back on track. I suspect that no parent will ever be able to claim this tax deduction because of a failing school in Tallapoosa County because – again, unlike the AEA bosses – I have confidence in the board of education and superintendent to be sure that recurring failures do not occur.

Our state senator, Tom Whatley, is doing a great job for us, and he sees the wisdom in this legislation that puts school administrators on notice that no longer will long-term failing report cards be tolerated or else the administrators will lose “the keys to the car.”

If you want to complain to someone, contact T.C. Coley, who is the local AEA representative (his contact information is usually on the editorial page since he is also one of our county commissioners) and ask him why the AEA does not have confidence in our local school administrators and why the AEA spends the teachers’ hard earned money on a poorly researched and totally misleading full page ad instead of donating that money to help Tallapoosa County Schools.

John Prophitt

Jackson’s Gap

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