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Manning Says It Well!

     One of our loyal MACE members, Andrew Manning, is an excellent writer. He recently submitted a timely article on the futility of school reform. He makes a poignant observation that the best thing that the Georgia legislature could do is nothing. They should quit attempting to solve Georgia’s educational problems with top-down mandates which have proven to fail time after time. The best thing that the policy-makers, educrats, and administrators could do to improve public education is to support the classroom educators in disciplinary matters. Andrew submitted this article to TheTeachersAdvocate.Com -- but the daily newspaper, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, beat us on the publication. Hence, we will quote from the article extensively as it appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Please read and enjoy...

     "A new legislative session is upon us, and once again educational bureaucrats (the ‘educrates’) on both the state and local levels will be asking for millions of dollars to implement their latest idea of ‘reform.’

     "Before we start spending ‘for the children,’ I offer a proposal that will save millions. Not a reform but a solution; based on such a plain, simple truth, even a child can (and will) understand. I call my solution ‘The Nothing Solution.’

     "First, it’s important to understand why the endless cycle of reform hasn’t worked. Simply put, we have reformed everything except the most important thing: restoring discipline to the classroom.

     "The numbers (from the Georgia Department of Education) don’t lie. Even with the scandalous amount of underreporting that goes on, there are ten of thousands of incidents yearly in major school systems.

     "The same patterns of behavior continue unabated; the message sent to children is ‘We are not serious when it comes to discipline.’ Even worse, the message sent to teachers is ‘We will not support you.’

     "Taking the path of least resistance, it’s become easier for the educrat to placate the angry parent, as opposed to supporting the teacher.

     "With no consistent consequences for misbehavior, too many students continue to act a fool...

     "Last, educrats have too much invested in pride, prestige and paycheck to admit that reform isn’t working. When pushed, they avoid the discipline issue, instead relying on a mountain of conflicting data that say we are making some progress and just need more money.

     "This is where ‘The Nothing Solution’ comes in. Any school can implement it, inexpensively, with no special help from experts or consultants.

     "It only requires that Gov. Sonny perdue take a stand with this simple mandate: ‘Teachers must have the authority to discipline students. Therefore, I will not release one red cent to any school system until the following is in place: Any student who does not accept the teacher’s authority is to be removed immediately, and allowed to do NOTHING, until they do accept that teacher’s authority.’

     "When students see there is nothing to be gained from misbehavior (no power struggle with the teacher, no audience of classmates, no mama coming up to the school to raise Cain) the student will, inevitably, choose to learn.

     "And when a child chooses to learn, the sky’s the limit. Test scores will rise, and you won’t have to wonder whether the scores are legit.

     "Teachers, once given back control of their classrooms, will find renewed enthusiasm for teaching and, as a bonus, will be much more likely to embrace the parts of reform that do have merit.

     "Finally, educrats, when threatened with the loss of state funds, will come on board, as the new path of least resistance will be the path it should have been all along: restoring the discipline.

     "For years, governors have embraced an endless cycle of ‘do something’ reforms. For once, can we muster up the courage to embrace ‘The Nothing Solution’?"

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, p. A15, December 31, 2003

     In addition to the above article, here are excerpts from another article that Andrew Manning had published in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on February 6, 2003:

     "Why is The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, in its efforts to dismantle the Clayton County school board, extending its bias to the Metro Association of Classroom Educators?

     "If the AJC wants to criticize the school board, fine.  But if it were truly objective, it would credit MACE for being the only entity in Georgia consistently willing to address the discipline problems facing Georgia's teachers.  Instead, the newspaper ignores the discipline issue, choosing the shrill scream of "accountability" over legitimate debate.

     "The AJC can scream "accountability" until the cows come home, but until it is willing to accept that teachers cannot teach and students cannot learn without support for discipline, that call has all the moral authority of a cow passing wind.

     "When the people at the AJC can wrap their minds around that fact, perhaps then they can balance their reporting with some of the positives that MACE brings to the table."

                                                                         January 7, 2004


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