THE MYTH OF LIABILITY INSURANCE – GAE AND PAGE STILL PUSH THIS SCAM!
Editor’s Note: MACE
published the following article in the 1998 edition of The Teacher’s Advocate! (accessed in
the Archive section.)
It appears that GAE and PAGE will continue to push this scam of the “need”
for liability insurance in Georgia, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Could it be that these two organizations
push this “liability insurance” scam because it is such a hot seller for them and because they
are so weak in responding to the teachers’ real need, viz., job protection against the exploits of defiant and
disruptive students, irate and irresponsible parents, and/or angry and abusive administrators?
Many people, including college education professors, do not know the difference between liability insurance
for negligence and job protections for acts committed either by the teacher or against the teacher. It
is against the law for liability insurance to cover a teacher’s willful and wanton misconduct
(e.g., having sex with a student or angrily hitting a student in the head with a baseball bat). In this
case, a teacher needs advocates and lawyers, not a worthless liability policy. Worthless?
Yes, because it only covers negligence which is already covered in Georgia by sovereign immunity!
Sovereign Immunity is in Georgia’s Constitution, Statutes,
and Case Law. To top off this, the Georgia General Assembly passed a law (OCGA
20-2-930) in 2005, granting Georgia teachers and even student teachers liability insurance from the State,
apparently to ensure the teachers that they do not have to fall prey to the GAE-PAGE scam!
Just think: When has a teacher in Georgia ever used a liability insurance policy
sold by GAE and PAGE? When? The first teacher who can show (documented) where any teacher
in Georgia has used a liability policy sold by GAE or PAGE (the ACTUAL liability portion,
not any bells and whistles added to the policy just to make it more appealing) in the last 50 years in Georgia will receive
$100.00 from MACE – no questions asked! This scam is tantamount to the scam
of pushing the old fashioned Whole Life Insurance Policies with low coverage and low interest
rates to unsuspecting consumers a few decades back. The insurance companies
were making out like bandits, and the families who were left without the primary breadwinner were left holding a near empty
bag! Teachers are paying for their memberships in GAE and PAGE. They get a worthless
liability policy, but they are often left bereft when they call these organizations for help when those defiant
and disruptive children, those irate and irresponsible parents, and those angry and abusive
administrators start attacking them and their careers. See what that empty and worthless liability
policy will do for you then, teacher. Nothing. You were just duped into thinking that
you were protected. It is a scam, and GAE and PAGE are shameless in perpetuating this myth!
For more details of how sovereign immunity works in Georgia, please read the following article.
MACE has been telling the truth about the myth of liability insurance since MACE’s
beginning in 1995. In the 1990s, NEA was paying four dollars (yes, 16 quarters) per year for each of its
member’s liability insurance coverage. You see why NEA/GAE and PAGE want to keep
perpetuating the myth? It is so profitable for these organizations! Why bother with
the truth? Hmm.
The State of Georgia provides strong sovereign immunity protection for teachers. This
sovereign immunity (meaning the State and its agents – including teachers – cannot be held liable
for negligence) is detailed in the Georgia Constitution (Article I, Section II, Paragraph
IX). Sovereign immunity is also detailed in statutory law (O.C.G.A.
20-2-992 and 20-2-993; even strengthened by O.C.G.A. 20-2-1000 which was enacted in 1995 and which states
that local school boards must provide an attorney for teachers if they are sued for disciplinary actions and further states
that parents must pay all reasonable court costs, etc.). Furthermore, the case law is
replete with cases wherein the courts invoke the doctrine of sovereign immunity to protect public school
educators (Hennessy v. Webb, 1980, Truelove v. Wilson, 1981, Guthrie v. Irons,
1993, et al.). The only time that sovereign immunity is modified in the law is for “willful
and wanton” misconduct (like intentionally beating up a student or having
sex with a student). But, in that case, no liability policy – be it GAE’s
AFT’s, PAGE’s, MACE’s, or whoever’s
– will cover such conduct. If a teacher is doing his or her job and an accident occurs through negligence,
then the teacher is covered by sovereign immunity. (In addition, because of school board
and administrative liability, nearly every school system in the state already provides liability insurance to cover its employees
– or the system is self-insured. For example, in the Clayton County School System, liability coverage,
along with other types of insurance, is listed on the salary schedule flyer as a benefit which the system provides for its
employees.) But what teachers need is job protection and empowerment.
Ask yourself these two questions: (1) Can you think of a teacher, doing his or her normal job as
a teacher, who has been successfully sued in Georgia? Can you think of just one? (2)
Can you think of one teacher who has been harassed, intimidated, and treated unfairly
by school administrators and/or parents? You can think of many, can’t you?
Every once in a great while, a teacher may have criminal charges filed against him or her.
If this occurs, a teacher needs a lawyer, not a liability policy which covers civil
action. There is a difference between a liability policy (which provides coverage for
a civil suit) and a lawyer (who defends against criminal action.).
Superintendents, administrators, and/or school boards are sometimes sued – because of their dealings in federal
law. For example, when an administrator, a superintendent, and/or a school board discriminates against
an employee or a citizen in areas like race, gender, age, handicapping conditions, religion, or free speech, these people
are then liable for their discriminatory conduct. And, these people sometimes have to “pay the piper.”
However, teachers neither hire nor fire people. Therefore, teachers
aren’t sued in these areas. (That’s why they pay the superintendents and the administrators
the “big bucks.”)
So, why do GAE, AFT, and PAGE keep pushing these professional liability policies?
They want teachers to feel that they need liability insurance. Why?
Well, after all, what else do these groups offer teachers? Spelling Bees? Discounts
on rent-a-cars? Instructional Fairs? Tote-bags? Calculators made
in China? They certainly don’t aggressively defend teachers when they are harassed,
intimidated, undermined, unfairly evaluated, or wrongfully demoted
or discharged by their administrators and/or school boards. They have no clear-cut mission
or vision for classroom educators. Because of their schizophrenic identity, at best, they compromise their
efforts for teachers and, at worst, they sell out the teachers and leave them hanging.
When the Metro Association of Classroom Educators (MACE) was founded, the founders
of MACE decided not to continue to perpetuate the myth of liability insurance.
Teachers do not need a policy for which they are already covered (negligence) and which does not (and
cannot) cover “willful and wanton” misconduct. What teachers do
need, however, is job protection and empowerment.