On Wednesday December 9th, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution published a story naming Atlanta as one of the most friendly cities in the U.S. for charter schools. The feature included the following quote from Verdallia Turner, President of Georgia Federation of Teachers:
Calling Atlanta one of the most “choice-friendly” cities isn’t much of a compliment, said Verdaillia Turner, President of the Georgia Federation of Teachers.
“That’s like saying Chicago is the most murder friendly-city in the nation,” she said.
PolicyBEST finds this comparison inflammatory to the debate over how to provide every individual child the best education possible, and is issuing the following statement from Executive Director Charlie Harper:
“Murder is more than a concept to a lot of the kids trapped in failing schools. The reason too many are trapped is because some in the education establishment have chosen to prioritize the needs of the bureaucracy over the achievements of their students. Thus, too many are doomed to a cycle of poverty, living in neighborhoods where crime is not only an option but a way of life. The alternative is to provide every choice available to give these kids a chance to escape what many have written off as their destiny. This could even include a future that provides them high paying jobs in safe work locations where they can write edgy statements about murder as if it’s just a theoretical rhetorical device.”
“Many professional educators have embraced change, just as workers in every other profession have done in order to keep their industries current and prepared for 21st century challenges. PolicyBEST has had the opportunity to work with many of them as we’ve fought to uphold and strengthen Georgia’s academic performance standards, provide accountability for the investment made in education, and continue to provide additional funding while ensuring a positive return on this investment for taxpayers. Ms. Turner’s quip not only demeans those in her profession that she is charged to represent, but trivializes the very real plight of students trapped in a failing system that deserve better.”
We know that the individual members of the Georgia Federation of Teachers care more for their students than their President chose to demonstrate with these words. It is our hope that they will encourage her to be adopt a more constructive posture if she wishes to effectively represent her members when education policy is debated.