A Wild, Wild Year!

The past school year was wild! The No Child Left Behind law was beginning to have its full negative impact on education in general and the teaching profession in particular. Everyone was feeling the heat of this misguided piece of legislation...blaming teachers for the failure of students and parents! The pressure that the principals were feeling was being passed along to the teachers. Everyone was looking for blame. The NCLB legislation is one big Blame Game. The blame is put on everyone except where it belongs - on the students. Let's face it: Some students are defiant, disruptive, lazy, and/or refuse to learn. Some parents are irate, irresponsible, apathetic, and/or finger-pointing themselves. Who can we cast all of the blame on? You guessed it...the teachers.

For about five months in a row, I personally had appointments in the MACE office each night (Tuesdays through Thursdays, with Mondays reserved for school board meetings). I think only once or twice did I not have the night booked with one or two teachers. We were that busy - and we seldom left the office before 10:00 PM. Of course, Mr. Haynes, Mr. Yawn, Mr. Robinson, or Mr. Cox would also conference with the teachers and me. The phone calls were non-stop. Mr. Cox and Mr. Robinson shouldered most of this "burden."  It was a heavy load, calling each person back on the same day. We wrote so many letters for our teacher-members (many of you can testify, eh?) that they could fill volumes. (Many of these letters are on our website, TheTeachersAdvocate.Com. Our MACE website is informative and entertaining. It is the best teacher website around. Look over the Evaluation List on this website and see if your principal has an "NI." Does he or she need one? Please keep us informed so that we can inform our fellow members. Also, you can see photos of our most recent pickets.)

We picketed all over Georgia, including three pickets on the main drag in Greene County, the location where the largest teacher turnover rate in the country took place. This year, we plan even more pickets because in many cases the most effective thing that can happen for teachers is to embarrass the administrators so that their behavior is put in check.

All of the charges for three false arrests were dropped this year. Mr. Haynes, our Executive Director, and I were falsely arrested in Atlanta in February of 2006. The principal's contract was not renewed this past year, and the cases against us were "dead docked."  Preston Lee Haliburton, Of Counsel with MACE, did a terrific job in this situation. (Adrian Patrick, Esq., also was in on this case as well as Keith Davidson, a superb trial consultant.) Fulton County decided to "dead docket" the charges against Mr. Haynes and me. I appreciate the fairness and high-mindedness of the Solicitor's Office in this case. Also, I was falsely arrested at a Clayton County school board meeting in January of this year. My crime? I simply held up two of our fluorescent color signs (one said, "Pulliam Must Go!"; she went, didn't she?). You see the power of these signs? My activity was Constitutionally-protected. I did not block anyone's vision; in fact, I was standing in the back of the auditorium. The police officer knew that I did not do anything wrong and so told my Clayton County attorney, Steve Frey. Mr. Patrick and Mr. Haliburton also worked in this case with Mr. Frey. I had the Dream Team in my defense. The charges were dropped within two or three weeks. In the "winter of their discontent," they always arrest us, but we do not go down. I have been arrested on a number of occasions fighting for teachers (and have been to my share of jails) but have NEVER been convicted once - or even taken to trial.

Speaking of lawyers: J. Anderson Ramay, Esq., MACE's General Counsel, has been doing an excellent job fighting for our teachers in hearings and in other actions. He knows how to be aggressive in hearings, and he knows how to negotiate behind the scenes, all for the betterment of the teacher's situation. We really appreciate Anderson's hard work for the MACE members.

Jeff Cox, MACE's mainstay and Membership Director, was the recipient of the First Annual William L. Woods Memorial Award at last year's MACE Holiday BASH. Jeff did a terrific job keeping MACE running well even when MACE's first General Counsel and Founding Attorney, Bill Woods, died suddenly of heart complications in on July 17, 2006. Mr. Woods and Mr. Cox had been best friends since their junior high days. Note: You can real the full story on the front page of this website.

What can we say about MACE's new Executive Director, Mr. Norreese Haynes? In January of this year, Mr. Haynes became MACE's second executive director. I unloaded many of my responsibilities onto Mr. Haynes. I remain Chairman, but Norreese has been my understudy for years. He is a quick learner, as those who know him can attest. He was elected to the Clayton County Board of Education one day after Mr. Woods passed away. Before Bill died, he told Norreese, "Whatever you do, don't stop running." I know that Bill is smiling upon Norreese like all the teachers in Clayton County are today. When Norreese got onto the Clayton School Board, he led the liberating efforts to free up the teachers from the tyranny of the school superintendent who stepped down in July. He was assisted in this effort by Michelle Strong, a MACE member who teaches in Fulton County. Michelle shocked the county (including the superintendent and her staff) when she soundly defeated the incumbent board member. She and her husband ran a fine race, and Michelle has been a strong voice for teachers on the Clayton County School Board. We know that Norreese and Michelle will keep up the strong advocacy for the children and the teachers in Clayton, and we hope that this advocacy will reverberate throughout Georgia. Norreese sponsored The Teacher's Bill of Rights, and this policy was passed in May, with the strong assistance of Michelle. This is the first such school board policy in the country. Note: Again, read the full story on the front page of this website. Please pray for Norreese and Michelle and their allies on the school board.

We were so busy this past year that I did not have time to even note on our website that my only brother, Dan Trotter, principal of Pine Ridge Elementary School in Harris County, Georgia, was named by the Georgia PTA as the Georgia's Elementary Principal of the Year. Congrats to Dan! He deserves this honor. The students, teachers, and parents at Pine Ridge love him! The PTA Council stated: "He [Dan Trotter] leads not with the power and authority that his job could demand, but with compassion...He makes an effort to speak to everyone calling them by their first name. He even knows each child's grade level and teacher. With a school of almost 600 children, that is remarkable...If we don't have enough lunch room workers, he pins his tie back and starts serving lunch trays. He will mop, take up money, tutor students, pick up trash, clean up and do whatever is required...A teacher or parent can see him at any time with or without an appointment. When you go to talk to him, he never seems to be in a rush. He believes that communication leads to a comfortable working environment which in turn benefits the students. It is his philosophy to take every phone call and greet each visitor [who] enters the school and he lives by it."  Wow. I could go on and on because this quote came from five typed pages of praise for Dan. He is example of an Encouraging, Supportive, and Empowering Principal. I call these type principals EnSuEm's. There are not many out there anymore. If you have one such principal, then stay put because you will be miserable working for a ToDoHeHa (a Top Down, Heavy-handed Principal). ToDoHeHa's have very low self-esteem, and they try to feel better about themselves by flexing their administrative muscles and scaring their subordinates. It's based on bad theory, and it ruins a school. One of the main things that plagues public education today is the ToDoHeHa mentality which has taken over public education. Oh, I long for the day when many ex-coaches were principals and they empowered the teachers to teach. (Note: My brother is an ex-high school/college coach. Coaches understand something about leadership, teamwork, and motivation. I bet that you will NEVER read this in a GAE or PAGE newsletter! At MACE, we just have to tell the truth.)

I want to congratulate all of our retirees of this year. I want to specifically mention three who have been with MACE from the onset in 1995. State Representative Darryl Jordan signed on with MACE probably in MACE's first week. Other teachers signed up the same day in his classroom. He is now the Chairman of the Clayton County Legislative Delegation, and he will probably be working with MACE in some capacity in his retirement. Linda Crummy, a two-term school board member in Clayton County (who kept her political sanity, by the way), retired from the Fulton County Schools. Mrs. Crummy will work with MACE in the field. This Mississippi native ("Little Man's daughter") says she did a lot of picketing in Mississippi just to get treated as a first class citizen. She also wants to start a Mississippi MACE branch! My only sister, Patti Trotter, was with us from the beginning in Columbus, Georgia (and her son Bo and daughter-in-law Marsha have been MACE teacher for years in Chattahoochee and Muscogee Counties). These three retirees have meant so much to MACE through the years, and we now want to grant them the status of Member Emeritus. This is the first time we have done this. Thanks Darryl, Linda, and Patti!

Each year, MACE has several teachers who earned Teacher of the Year status or STAR Teacher status at their respective schools. This past year, Tony Guisasola was not only Dawson County's Teacher of the Year, but he was also the Georgia Alternative Educator of the Year. Tony and his wife Becky have been loyal MACE members for over 10 years. They live in Gilmer County where Tony formerly served on the school board. Tony is about to complete his work for a doctorate in Leadership from the University of Georgia. Before he retired, Representative Darryl Jordan enrolled Tony and Becky's son, Miguel, into MACE as a first-year teacher. Darryl says that Miguel does a terrific job with the students of Henry County Middle School. Miguel graduated also from UGA, and his sister Carmen is attending UGA also. I have known the Guisasolas for a number of years, and you will not find a finer family around!

At this past year's MACE Holiday BASH, Normand Brousseau and Bruce Lovin were both given The Teacher's Advocate Award. Norman first joined MACE in, I believe, 1998 or 1999 while he was teaching in Hancock County. (He was also serving as Mayor of Harrison, Georgia while living in Washington County, Georgia.) Norman, a French teacher, shortly thereafter began teaching at Westside High in Macon where he has constantly advocated for the rights of teachers in Bibb County in general and at Westside High in particular. Bruce Lovin stepped forward in the very tough school year for all teachers in Greene County. Bruce's leadership was very apparent from the beginning. He and his wife (who is also a MACE member) are respected in the community, and they were able to gather forces in opposition to some of the foolishness revolving around perhaps the most insensitive and callous superintendent in Georgia. MACE traveled to Greene County for three pickets in the downtown area of Greensboro. Congratulations to both Normand and Bruce!

Michael Robinson has been doing a great job as MACE's Marketing Director, and he is constantly out in the schools. Please do not hesitate to call Mr. Robinson if you would like for him and other MACE staffers to visit your school. Darryl Plenty was recently named as MACE's Field Director to replace Mr. Haynes who is now Executive Director. Mr. Plenty has been with MACE for about four years, and he has progressed from doing a great job on the picket line (a real stand-up guy who ALWAYS wants the toughest, nastiest picket sign) to attending grievances, interventions, etc. (At MACE, the field folk never really leave the picket line, and that is why you will regularly see Dennis Yarbrough, Norreese Haynes and me on the beloved "picket line"!) Mr. Plenty has a solid core of Field staffers in A. J. Gardner, Tharone Ward, and Tom Berry. Even Ms. Crummy and perhaps Representative Jordan will join us "at the line."  At MACE, no one is too good for "the picket line" because this is what MACE teachers love!

I want to thank Pam Thompson, our Office Manager, for keeping us all straight around here. She is so efficient in her work and sweet in her demeanor. And, when our computers or other electrical devices go haywire, we turn to Ms. Renee Bishop immediately. "Pam, please call Renee!"  We are always calling on Renee, and Renee always bails us out. Renee, thanks! We have a new person in our midst, Sharlene Gipson. Sharlene is a Staff Assistant, keeping our files in order. We are a paper-driven organization, and she is a welcomed addition to our MACE Family!

Andrew Manning is one of MACE's stalwarts from years ago. He is always advocating for MACE with his fellow teachers and in various and sundry forums. His is an engaging writer, and his writings about public education and what teachers currently have to encounter are insightful, poignant, and witty. You can read some of Mr. Manning's articles on TheTeachersAdvocate.Com, and we are asking Mr. Manning to do more writing for MACE!

Our Vice Chairman, Dennis Yarbrough, was recently inducted into the Newberry College Football Hall of Fame. Dennis had already earned First Team Collegiate All Star in South Carolina (including the University of South Carolina and Clemson University) and was Honorable Mention All American. Dennis is also in the Druid Hills High School Football Hall of Fame. Congrats, Dennis!

No matter where a teacher teaches in Georgia, he or she can join MACE! In recent years, the MACE membership has literally spread throughout the entire state! Please continue to spread the good news about MACE. Tell teachers that MACE is not afraid of a single administrator in Georgia; contrariwise, they are all afraid of MACE, and don't let them try to tell you otherwise. Tell teachers that MACE will not leave them hanging. But, also tell them that MACE will not give them a tote bag nor a spelling bee! MACE is about the protection and empowerment of classroom educators! Hand them a MACE brochure-application or encourage them to visit our website. Urge them not to wait to late to join!

Thanks,
John R. A. Trotter, Ed.D.,J.D.


P.S. Teachers, please send in information on your new address, phone number, and school, etc. Thanks, John

September 7, 2007

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