"I love teaching young people and music, even when ..."
I am a 29-year veteran Georgia teacher-music educator. I graduated from Florida State University in 1980, began teaching junior high in Clayton County and for 16 years have taught high school in Fayette County. I have jumped through every education hoop thrown at teachers by every governor. I began with the Teacher Performance Assessment Instrument, the Quality Basic Education Act and the development of the Quality Core Curriculum. I passed whatever the certification test was at the time. I earned (and paid for) a master’s degree. I was certified at a PBT level, a performance-based teacher certification I earned, and paid for National Board Certification from the Music Educators National Conference. In 2005, I earned and paid for the National Board Teacher Certification, for which I was promised a raise.
I have brought honor and success to students in the schools in which I have taught. Until I became a National Board Certified Teacher, I had never been financially rewarded for working overtime, doing an outstanding job or providing innovative programs. Now, Gov. Sonny Perdue wants to strip National Board Certified Teachers of their stipends, proposing instead to give the bonus to teachers who earn a different, state-sponsored certification.
I have stayed in the profession because I love teaching young people and music, even when statewide commercials called Georgia teachers incompetent. I have stayed in the profession even when the No Child Left Behind legislation turned educated, respected, caring administrators into AYP, tunnel-visioned, standardized testing data analyzers. I did not bite at the latest Mentor Teacher program created by the state because I have had enough. I can’t bear to hear from another politician about improving teachers in Georgia when they have betrayed the best of us. The proposal to keep the funding for the Mentor Teacher program and cut the National Board’s promised salary supplement is another example of Georgia failing to stand by any standards it sets for its teachers. I have passed all the state and national standards only to face a nearly $13,000 cut in pay for next year.
That is, if Fayette County doesn’t choose to cut music personnel and I lose my job one year before I can retire. The irony is that I don’t even want to stop teaching.
Millie Turek, choral director and fine arts department chair at Fayette’s Sandy Creek High School
Atlanta Journal Constitution, February 24, 2009
thanks2teacher: MILLIE TUREK