When MACE was founded on September 1, 1995, there was a great
deal of hope and optimism that finally teachers had a union in Georgia which would not be intimidated by the powers
that be and which would not apologize nor vacillate in its determination to protect and empower classroom educators.
The mission has always been the same, and the mission will not change. GAE, PAGE, and AFT all talk a
good game. They all talk the talk -- but they don’t walk the walk. For whatever reason, these latter groups
feel the need to compromise, to accommodate, to give in under pressure. And, it's always the teacher who gets hurt.
MACE started on a shoe-string budget, with Dr. John
Trotter sharing one small office with Attorneys Bill Woods and Keith Walton. But, from the very beginning,
MACE was not afraid to confront administrative abuse head-on! MACE began filing grievances by the scores
and grilling abusive administrators in grievance hearings. In fact, one prominent school board attorney in the metro Atlanta
area wailed, "MACE terrorizes the administrators." MACE also evaluates the administrators and assigns
an "NI" to those who are so deserving. (Go to TheTeachersAdvocate.Com to peruse MACE’s Evaluation List.)
And, yes, the pickets! The pickets are probably the more "glamorous" activities sponsored by MACE. They
all appear to be so timely -- and so needed! MACE engaged in 22 pickets last year, and MACE has
already engaged in seven pickets this fall (DeKalb’s Sequoyah Middle School, Cobb’s Kell High School,
the Atlanta Board of Education meeting, and Atlanta’s Brown Middle School, Coan Middle School,
Douglass High School, and Kennedy Middle School). But, it’s the everyday service
work which pleases the MACE members. MACE receives, returns, and/or initiates well over 100 phone calls per
week involving MACE members. Nearly every week night, several MACE members arrive at the MACE office
to initiate grievances, letters, rebuttals to evaluations -- or to get some counsel about their often
egregious work conditions.
There were those skeptics on the sidelines back in 1995 and
1996 who predicted that MACE would not make it. But, because of some early commitments from teachers like Maggie
Sheehan (Clayton), State Representative Darryl Jordan (Henry), School Board Member Linda Crummy
(Fulton), Don Carson (Clayton), Charles Melton (Ret., Atlanta), Lenny Berger
(Ret., Fulton), Wayne and David Thompson (DeKalb), Gunny Yawn (DeKalb), Tricia
Weeks (DeKalb), Dr. Mike Rhett (Fulton), Bob Ryan (Clayton), Jocelyn Johnson
(Atlanta), and Dennis Yarbrough (formerly of Clayton; now Vice Chairman of MACE), MACE
did indeed make it in the vulnerable early years. But, now MACE is into its 10th anniversary year, and MACE
not only has been growing and expanding (from Gilmer County in the north to Valdosta City
in the south; from Muscogee County in the west to Richmond County in the east), but MACE
is prevailing. When the name "MACE" is mentioned, administrators do indeed listen. A few years ago,
a DeKalb administrator was overheard stating when asked if he wanted to apply for the principal job at a particular
DeKalb high school: "No. I don’t want that school because MACE is all in that school, and once they [MACE]
get after you, they [MACE] never let up." Hmm. At least he got the message. One of our long-time members in the Atlanta
Public Schools said it best: "Principals in Atlanta don’t even want to hear MACE’s name. When
you say ‘MACE,’ the smile drops off their face. But, in Atlanta, you better be a member of MACE."
That sums it up! Please communicate to your colleagues that they don’t need to teach without MACE. Sometimes
it’s a matter of losing or keeping your job. Often it’s a matter of mental health.
Always it’s a matter of professional dignity.
Peace of mind. It’s good to know that if you need
MACE’s services, MACE will be there. It’s good to know that you have aggressive representation
when you need it. MACE’s membership is confidential, but there may come a time in your career when you want
the administration to know that you’re protected by MACE. That’s why you joined. You didn’t join
MACE for spelling bees or for tote bags. You joined MACE for protection and empowerment.
MACE is not perfect. No organization is. But, what union
in Georgia works its butt off to call back each member every night -- even up to 10:00 p.m.? There are times, however,
that a teacher may be on his or her home computer or has no answering machine or call-waiting
feature. If that is the case, MACE representatives can’t leave a message. So, if you didn’t get
a message in this case, please call again. It is always MACE’s goal to provide the very best service available.
MACE is not the largest teachers’ union.
But, MACE is the best teachers’ union. More aggressive, more available to its members, and more intimidating
to administrators than any of the other so-called teachers’ organization. If you can ever get representatives from GAE/PAGE/AFT
to return your phone call, they appear to be more interested in why they can’t help you. At MACE,
we never say, "There’s nothing we can do." That’s the difference. That’s why abusive administrators appear
to "nut up" when MACE representatives arrive at "their" schools.
November 4, 2004