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
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
MACE does not want to waste teachers’
hard-earned money. However, if a teacher insists that he or she wants the liability insurance, MACE offers the
coverage for only $36.00 per year (in addition to the regular membership fee). All
a teacher needs to do is submit an additional $36.00 per year to MACE, and the
teacher will be provided the $1,000,000 [now $2,000,000] liability protection. However,
as already noted, MACE does not believe that Georgia
teachers need a liability policy.