From The Past...
Recently, Dr. Trotter was in Columbus
and bumped into a Marshall Middle School teacher and MACE member. She was elated to tell Dr. Trotter that Mr. Blackwell
was transferred after the MACE's picket this past Fall. Coincidence? Promotion? Who cares?! The teachers
at Marshall are apparently happy!
Above is a picket against DeKalb's King High School principal Skip Nelloms. MACE picketed Mr. Nelloms on several occasions,
including the first day of school two years in a row. In this photo, we have MACE stalwart Dennis Yarbrough with King
teacher at the time, James (Gunny) Yawn, who came out to the picket line. Subsequent to the MACE pickets, Mr. Nelloms
was appointed as an assistant principal at Avondale High School and later at Towers High School where MACE picketed him again.
To say that the MACE pickets are popular would be a tremendous
understatement! The MACE staff and friends cannot oblige all the requests for pickets and, because
of the MACE staff's busy schedule, must turn down many more than it can honor. Although pickets are
a time-honored expression of free speech protected by the U.S. Constitution, they are fairly
unusual in today's society, and they therefore cause quite a stir among each school's community when they are staged.
Why does MACE
picket? MACE pickets when it feels that the teaching conditions arre so egregious at the school that
the quickest and most effective method -- after other attempts at resolution have failed -- to bring about
improvement is the dramatic exposure of the conditions at the school. After past MACE
pickets (some covered by television, radio, and newspapers), some administrators have been transferred, one
principal shortly retired, some have panicked and/or cried, and
many have "gotten religion" -- if only for a short while. The pickets are effective and hugely
popular among members; however, MACE will not be prostituted over pickets! MACE
will not accept any remuneration whatsoever for a picket. And, the MACE staff members are not bellhops
who will jumpt at any "demand" for a picket. MACE will entertain requests and will listen
to the rationale for the picket, but will not be coerced to picket.
It is always
fun for the MACE cavalry to picket! Teachers enjoy observing their administrators
when they are not in control. Some paranoid school systems nearly always send out the cops to drive MACE
away. The cops can do nothing to MACE because the U.S. Supreme Court has clearly
established that parks and sidewalks are category one free speech forums. In Grayned v. Rockford
(1972), Justice Thurgood Marshall, in the majority opinion, wrote that "(w)ithout interferring
with normal school activities, daytime picketing and handbilling on public grounds near a school can effectively publicize
those grievances." In 1997, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down
floating buffer zones around people entering and leaving abortion clinics. The Court wrote: "Leafletting
and commenting on matters of public concern are classic forms of speech that lie at the heart of the First
Amendment, and speech in public areas is at its most protected on public sidewalks, a prototypical example
of a traditional public forum" (Schenck et al. v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York et
Offensive for the Winter! (POW!)
At MACE, we do not like to see teachers languish, trying to teach in conditions which are not conducive to both teaching
and learning. We believe that you cannot have good learning conditions until you first have good teaching
conditions. These two are inextricably linked. You cannot have the former (good learning
conditions) until you first establish the latter (good teaching conditions). We believe that top-down,
heavy-handed management is counte-rproductive to the schooling process. Often times, administrators act
as if they have never heard of Abraham Maslow, Kurt Lewin, Carl Rogers, et al. Their management style is
simply ineffective, out-dated (years ago), and, quite frankly, often abusive toward not only teachers, but toward fellow human
When MACE feels, in its
collective opinion, that conditions exist at certain schools or in certain school systems (often, it is systemic to a school
district) that impedes the learning processes at that school or school system, then MACE feels compelled to shed light on
the conditions at a certain locations. MACE also feels compelled to warn its members to shy away from these
locations. Furthermore, if a school system or a local administrator fails to process a grievance filed
by a teacher within the parameters of the State grievance law (O.C.G.A. 20-2-989.5 et seq.),
then MACE feels that it has no choice but to picket concerning this matter. At MACE, we give the school
systems an offer that we feel they cannot refuse: Either process and conduct a grievance which is generally
held is rather private conditions or earn a very public picket. We think that this is only fair.
In the Fall, MACE picketed, for various reasons,
at the Central Office of the Atlanta Public Schools (mainly for the lackadaisical manner in which APS responded to the alleged
attack of both a student and her mother on a teacher); at the Central Office of the Gwinnett Public School System (for the
arrogance and heavy-handed management of Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks); at Dunbar Elementary School (APS); at Therrell High
School (APS); at Babb Middle School (Clayton County); at Therrell High School (APS); at Randolph Elementary School (Fulton
County); at Bryant Elementary School (Cobb County); and at Douglass High School (APS). Beginning The Picket
Offensive for the Winter (POW), MACE launched a picket at McNair Middle School (Fulton County). Next came
a picket at Grove Park Elementary School (APS).
Yesterday saw the MACE Picket
Squad in Downtown Griffin, Georgia in front of the Central Office for the Griffin-Spalding School System. There’s
probably never been that much excitement in Downtown Griffin since Wyomia Tyus (of Griffin) won several gold medals in track
at the 1964 Olympics in Track & Field. Police were swarming the place. Central Office
administrators were furious. The newspaper came as well as the radio station. Why the
big excite? The administrators were offended at the MACE signs, especially Dr. Trotter’s which read:
“Jesse [JesseBradley, the Superintendent]: Candy Ass? Afraid of the Grievance Law?”
As usual, with his tattered Constitution in hand, quoting Constitutional Law to the Police Officers along with a camera
and a video recorders in pickers hands, the Police backed down (even after having called for a Paddy Wagon). Dr.
Trotter observed: “It’s funny how the Police Officers get quiet as church mice when the media
arrives. Usually, they run like roaches when the light comes on.” Operation Angst
continued today in front of the DeKalb Central Office where the administration tried again to get lax about promptly processing
grievances. It was another very juicy picket with Crawford Lewis drawing the sting of the MACE Picket Squad.
This picket also caused much anguish and angst. Dr. Trotter stated: “We
live in a great country where people can lawfully engage in peaceful but confrontational protests against governmental bodies.
The bright line standard for this is the Bill of Rights. Georgia would not even ratify the U. S.
Constitution until the Bill of Rights was included. Darn good country we live in! The
Court is vigorous about protecting these basic rights, despite the fact that local school officials and police officers apparently
disdain these rights. May they would be better off moving to Russia.”
On the White Board at the MACE
Office, there are about fifteen (15) to twenty (20) school names for future pickets during the Winter. The
Winter months seem to be the time for many pickets. Perhaps it is the “winter of discontent.”
Hold on, teachers! MACE is coming! Pickets are generally very effective.
Every now and then, a principal or superintendent “learns dumber” (as we call it around the MACE Office).
Then, MACE has to crank it up…and pour it on! Besides the hundreds of weekly calls, hearings,
interventions, letters and rebuttals written for teachers, and grievances filed for teachers and the subsequent representations
for teachers in these hearings, perhaps the most popular service for MACE’s members are the pickets. Sometimes
in the steaming and scorching sun, sometimes in the blistering wintry winds, and sometimes even in the rain, the MACE Picket
Squad marches on. The teachers are happy. They feel vindicated. They
feel that their voices have finally been heard. POW! Here comes The Picket Offensive
for the Winter! It’s now steamrolling ahead! February 25, 2009.
Picket Causes Angst in Griffin...MACE Stands Firm!
|Police trying to get Dr. T. off picket line.
|Police called for paddy wagon.
|A sight never scene in Griffin?
|More police vehicles showed up.
|"Superintendent Bradley Must Go!"
|Picket attracting attention.
|Superintendent Jessie Bradley in hard hat.
|Newspaper and radio come to picket.
Click Here To See More Atlanta Pickets!
Click Here To See More Bibb Pickets!
Click Here To See More Clayton Pickets!
Click Here To See More Cobb Pickets!
Click Here To See More Dekalb Pickets!
Click Here To See More Fulton Pickets!
Click Here To See More Greene County Pickets!
Click Here to See More Gwinnett Pickets!
Click Here To See More Henry Pickets!
Click Here To See More Newton Pickets!
State of Georgia! Click Here
MACE Storms The Capitol!
By John R. Alston Trotter, EdD, JD
Editor's Note: Photos and video of the Capitol picket will be
up shortly, as well as photos of the Atlanta picket (Beverly Hall), Lake Ridge Elementary in Clayton
County (Brenda Cloud), and Towers High School in DeKalb
County (Skip Nelloms).
Yesterday morning, I got my day starting by
writing a fairly lengthy letter for a teacher in a DeKalb elementary school. Then, we
descended downtown to the Capitol to picket between the Capitol and the Legislative Office Building
(LOB). Our signs were colorful and they were definitely catching the attention of the legislators
who were coming into the Capitol at 2:00 PM. (An education committee meeting had just
adjourned at the LOB.) The signs, off the top of my head, were such as: "Teachers
Teach. Administrators Cheat"; "Save Teachers. Reduce
Administrators"; "Chop Administrative Bloat! Furlough
Administrators"; "Next Election: Teachers With Pitchforks"
and others. The Capitol and State Police force were all agitated and
calling in re-enforcements, claiming that we could not picket at this location at the Capitol but had to
picket at a "designated area" (on Washington Street). Well, if you know me, you know that this
precipitated a big confrontation and a pow-wow between the police and me. I take umbrage at the fact that
law enforcement officers just do not respect a Category One Free Speech Forum.
After I went in detail about the U. S. Supreme Court's dissertations on the First Amendment
(time, manner, and place regulation which must be accompanied by a compelling State interest which also must guarantee "the
least restrictive alternative," which in this case would be directly across the street in front of the Legislative
Office Building and the Judicial Building; the fact also that any regulation has to be "content
neutral") and after much fulminations were impregnating the air, we decided to move the picket to the Washington
Street-Trinity Street corner of the Capitol, much to the relief of the Officers. This
too was a good location to picket. I must give a "shout-out" to Captain Les Robinson.
He was called in to deal with the MACE Picketers. He handled himself
most professionally. He told me that he really didn't want to have to arrest me. I told
him that I had earlier in my career spent some time in the "Garnett Hotel" around the corner from
the Capitol and that my biggest complaint about going to jail is that it is so excruciatingly boring in jail,
and I feel like I am an expert in this area, having matriculated through a few jails in my professional career.
I have never been convicted. Charges have always been dropped (except on one occasion when they
were "dead docketed"). I must say that I am proud of all of the times that I have been arrested...always
for speaking out on what I believe to be right -- speech protected, mind you, by the First Amendment to the
U. S. Constitution as well as protected the same by our Georgia Constitution.
For the record, the State
has a "Code 50" that apparently (note that I say "apparently") gives the State Police
the right to regulate demonstrations in front of State buildings. I demonstrably (yes, this will soon be
on MACE LIVE TV via www.theteachersadvocate.com, You Tube, and many other
distributors) told the Police that the State's Code 50 did not meet muster with the U. S. Supreme Court's rulings on Category
One Free Speech Forums. For example, the Washington, D. C. City Council
passed a local ordinance forbidding citizens from picketing in front of the United States Supreme Court building.
But, in U. S. v. Grace, the U. S. Supreme Court struck down this ordinance as unconstitutional,
saying that citizens could indeed picket the Court.
One thing that we are not so good at MACE...getting the media to cover our events. We
generally operate like a triage center, and the pace is so fast-paced that we don't have time to send out press releases about
a gathering or demonstration. I hear that PAGE, GAE, and even GFT are planning different demonstrations
at the Capitol. Good. I am glad. The more demonstrations, the merrier.
At MACE, we generally do not ask our teacher-members to take a day off to show
up at the Capitol to picket. We, as MACE Staff, usually do the picketing
for our members. In 2000, this was an exception to the rule when Governor Roy Barnes was
in the process of dismantling due process rights for teachers in Georgia. Then, we did call upon our members
to take a Personal Leave Day. We showed up at the Capitol in mass and had three straight days of pickets
against "Redneck Roy," as I dubbed him and was roundly criticized
in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for doing so. We had some most colorful signs
back then, such as: "Roy Flunked Character Education!" I
would like to be able to attend the demonstration on Saturday, but my parents have been married for 65 years, and we planned
a big celebration for them in Columbus on Saturday evening. As many teachers who can get
out, please attend any and all of the demonstrations against the efforts to balance the State budget on the backs of teachers
as well as against the asinine notion that the so-called "All Star Teachers" program will do anything
but further perpetuate and facilitate the culture of cheating in Georgia. (c) MACE, February
Supt. Susan Andrews, Do Something about Marshall Middle!
MACE Picket Force Strikes Columbus Again!