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I was appalled to see the front page news that the Georgia Association of Educators is supporting former Gov. Roy Barnes in the upcoming election. I was a member of GAE for about 16 years and as of one year ago, I canceled my membership for such reasons as this: support of individuals in politics without any input from members.
The statement was made that GAE (at least the few officials in their office headquarters) and its approximate 48,000 members are supporting Barnes for governor. I wonder why GAE chooses to support only Democratic candidates (as far as I can see) regardless of the governmental position.
Why would GAE make the blanket statement that its members are supporting a candidate when the members have not had any input for the endorsement? Who exactly is making the decision for all of its members?
I have been in education for 27 years, and along with many thousands of other educators, I endured the four-year tenure of Barnes. There is at least one good reason why Barnes is a former governor; it was because of the mess he made in education during his one term in office from 1998-2002. He belittled teachers across the state in the media and now he is apologizing for not appreciating the efforts of educators.
He did away with tenure for new teachers. Barnes' comment was that it was too difficult to get rid of bad teachers. Of course doing away with tenure also gave inadequate administrators the right to fire and hire at will.
Fortunately, tenure was reinstated when Gov. Sonny Perdue entered office.
By his own admission, Barnes admits that he made mistakes when he was in office before. I am a believer in forgiveness, to a point, but he was given four years to prove himself before and he failed miserably. Why would we want to give him another four years?
As a teacher, we cannot afford him that opportunity. And as citizens of this state, he should not be given more taxpayer money to use at his will. If he is successful in going into the governor's office and starts the considerable amount of spending programs that I fear will occur, there will be checks written that state funds cannot support.
I know many GAE members who are canceling their memberships because there are very few people who are choosing to speak for the state's members without their input. I know of only very few teachers who are voting for Barnes, and many of those are young teachers who were not around during his previous reign.
Those of us who are veteran teachers are educating the young staff members about what happened before so it is not given an opportunity to happen again.