FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 10, 2012
ATLANTA � The Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) is deeply concerned over the issue of furloughing teachers. �Teachers and Educational Support Professionals (ESPs) are the backbone of our public education system,� said Calvine Rollins, GAE president. �Teachers do not cause funding crises and must not bear the responsibility in solving the problem. In order for our public schools to provide the instruction and support mandated by the Georgia Constitution, these dedicated individuals must be in their classrooms and school buildings, and on their buses serving our students.
Furloughs directly and indirectly negatively affect the learning and working environments. They balance budgets on the backs of the very people our children depend on -- the teachers and support professionals on the front lines of learning. When a furlough is instituted it deducts valuable experience and expertise from the overall education equation and specifically and negatively impacts the children directly affected. They directly affect morale among staff and negatively impact classroom instruction. We believe that the loss of any teacher time (either preparation or instruction) is always a bad decision that impairs the ability of Georgia�s educators to provide quality instruction to their students.
On the personal side, furloughed teachers take multiple hits to their pockets due to 1.) recent salary freezes, 2.) the actual furloughs, 3.) health insurance increases, and 4.) the fact that educators are the only state employees to spend on an average, $600 yearly, out of their own pockets toward their jobs.
GAE asks school boards that before furloughs are even considered, that every line item that doesn�t directly affect classroom instruction or our children be evaluated.
Educators are not blind to the need to trim budgets, but GAE opposes all plans that promote an expectation of work without pay. We would ask lawmakers and local boards to fully explore all other possibilities before resorting to negatively impacting student instruction. Some school districts have said �NO� to furloughs. These school districts (Cobb, DeKalb, Atlanta, Glynn, etal.) have found creative ways to avoid furloughing employees.
Subsequently, we believe that it�s time to rethink Georgia�s tax system to ensure that every school in every school district is adequately funded. To that end, GAE continues lobbying the state to examine its tax system. A revised tax structure ensures that even during difficult economic times, Georgia public schools will be well funded and secure and minimize or eliminate the need for furloughing.�