Bless Her Heart, Rep. Terri Collins Just Can’t Connect The Dots

Rep. Terri Collins of Decatur chairs the House Education Policy Committee and therefore, plays a key role in legislation impacting public schools.  She is the sponsor of the infamous A-F school report card bill that adds no value whatsoever to our education efforts.

We have written many times how the grading system used for school report cards and the one used by the Alabama Accountability Act to designate “failing” paint unreliable and inaccurate pictures of what such measures are supposed to mean.

To their credit, The Anniston Star and reporter Lee Hedgepeth, took notice of how absurd this situation is and investigated.  Hedgepeth begins his article this way:

“The State of Alabama isn’t a consistent grader.

A comparison of the state’s “failing” schools list and its education report cards show a wide disparity in how schools are labeled across the Yellowhammer State.

Seventy-five schools are labeled as “failing” under the Alabama Accountability Act, but the state says 104 schools earned an “F” on their education report cards. Of those 104 schools that received Fs, only 37 are labeled as “failing” under the act.

Lawmakers passed the Alabama Accountability Act in 2013 to encourage students zoned for schools labeled as “failing” — those that score in the bottom 6 percent on certain test scores — to transfer to other schools through the use of tax-credit funded scholarships.

State education report cards, on the other hand, are the result of a 2012 law that brought Alabama into compliance with a federal push for transparency measures like A through F report cards. School report cards were finally released in February after years of delay.”

Then, as any good reporter would do, Hedgepeth talked to Collins.  Her response is, well, basically mind-blowing.

“Rep. Terri Collins, R-Decatur, was a sponsor of the report card legislation in Alabama and also supported the Alabama Accountability Act.

Collins said Friday she doesn’t see any issue with the inconsistency in labels.

“These are just totally separate things,” she said. “The Accountability Act is just based on a single test score. The report card grades are based on many different contributing factors.”

TOTALLY SEPARATE THINGS?

Tell that to teachers, students, principals and administrators who see their school get an F on one system according to A-F–but are not one of the 75 “failing” schools.  Which are they to believe?  Or what about a school deemed as “failing” by the accountability act–but does not get an F on their school report card?

Or take Montgomery where a group has spent nearly $100,000 to scream from the rooftops how terrible the school system is.  According to the accountability act, 11 of these schools are “failing” and 17 are F schools.  (And three of the “failing’ schools are not an F.)  Which info will the anti MPS group use?  Naturally, the info that paints the worst picture.

TOTALLY SEPARATE THINGS?

Only to someone making law about education who apparently spends precious little time in schools trying to understand what they are really all about and how detrimental such poorly thought out ideas can be.

 

 

 

 

 

Montgomery Advertiser Figures It Out

Give credit to the Montgomery Advertiser for being honest about the REAL challenge facing the Montgomery County school system.  As they point out in this article, Poverty and proficiency: MPS’ biggest obstacle may be outside the school system, the issue goes far beyond the classroom and the school board.

Listen to one teacher.

“During the Sidney Lanier High School football team’s summer workouts, linebackers coach Stephen Landrum knew which of his players either just came from work or were going there next.

“I have a lot of kids that have to support their family,” Landrum said. “They’re working jobs to help pay for things and taking care of brothers and sisters. … If you have a schedule like that, there is no time for them to do any work outside of school and when they get to school they’re tired.” 

It’s worse during the school year, he said, when shifts can only be picked up after school and a rough next day in class is all but guaranteed.

Landrum has at least 10 such football players out of 60 who he sees carry their economic burdens onto the field along with their pads and helmets.

It’s the same story in his world history classroom, he said, where some students “come to school only to eat” and others can’t find motivation while wondering if they will be able to shower when they get home.

“There are kids that don’t know if their power is going to be on when they get home from school or if their water is going to be turned off. That’s a real issue,” Landrum said. “There’s 15 or 20 times a year that I find out one of my kids, the basic necessities at home, they don’t have them. That’s just the ones that tell me. There’s a lot more that don’t.”

High student poverty in school districts directly correlates to low average academic proficiency, according to a 2014 study by the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama (PARCA), and at a time when many are looking at ways to improve a Montgomery Public Schools system under state intervention, some within the system believe poverty isn’t being talked about enough.

“I think it’s probably the No. 1 issue,” Landrum said.” 

(Editor’s note: Because of his passion for young people, Stephen Landrum left his law practice to become a teacher of inner-city students.  Yet the PR campaign being waged by a group trying to hand pick the school board wants us to think he is a complete failure )

“Of the 37 schools where a majority of students qualified for free/reduced lunch last year, only six were graded above a D on this year’s state report cards, which measured academic achievement, academic growth, college and career readiness and chronic absenteeism. None of the 37 got higher than a C.

All schools that received an A or B had a free/reduced rate of 28 percent or lower.

Montgomery’s magnet high schools — LAMP (100 percent graduation rate, 100 percent CCR), Brewbaker Tech (99 percent graduation rate, 98 percent CCR), and Booker T. Washington (100 percent graduation rate, 95 percent CCR) — were in the top 15 schools statewide in graduation rate and college/career readiness percentage, according to another PARCA report, and the three combined for an average ACT score of 24.6.

The average free/reduced rate in those schools is 11.85 percent.”

Montgomery has watched this situation unfold for years and years–but local “leaders” have never acknowledged it or stepped up to do something meaningful themselves.

Don Bogie detailed the city’s predicament well 20 years ago.  But the community slept right through his sermon.

So now we have a full blown attack on the school system by a group the mayor calls “the young progressives.”  They have spent nearly $100,000 to trash our schools and certain candidates running for the board.  But I have yet to see one piece of literature they send to our mail boxes addressing the kind of things the Advertiser points out.  Instead, they have the ill-informed notion that seven members of a school board can magically undo generations of poverty and all that goes with it.

Most of us normally think that we get what we pay for.  But in this case, nothing will be farther from the truth.  Anyone thinking you can spend $100,000 and make water run uphill is living in a fantasy world.

Needs To Be Repeated

I said something in my last blog post, that bears repeating and then thinking about.

“When you look at the high schools in the state with the 20 HIGHEST average ACT scores and the 20 with the LOWEST, you discover they have one thing in common.

According to the A-F school report card, both lists have one C school on them.

McIntosh high school in Washington County has an average ACT of only 14.7.  In fact, there are only two schools that are lower.  Grissom high in Huntsville has an average of 23.1 ACT.  There are only five schools in the state higher than Grissom.

But the A-F school report card system says both are C schools.  Forget the 8.4 points difference in ACT scores, someone wants us to believe they are equals.”

Let that soak in a minute.  The state A-F school report card tells us that one of the high schools with the worst ACT scores in the state and one with the best scores are both C schools.

Somehow we are to suspend reality and believe such crap?   And I will go outside tonight to watch the cow jump over the moon.

The legislation creating this very useless process passed in 2012.  Here is the second paragraph on page one:

“Section 1. (a) Just as there is value in assigning grades that reflect the performance of public school students

in Alabama, the Legislature finds that there is also value in assigning grades that reflect the performance of the public

schools attended by public school students in Alabama. The Legislature further finds that an easy to understand school

grading system would best serve the interests of the public as a whole, and specifically the parents and guardians of public

school students, by providing another transparent layer of accountability for the public dollars allocated to elementary

and secondary education in the state”

Where did the legislature find value in doing this?.  Can someone show me the research they used to support such a statement?  Or did they pull it out of thin air as they so often do?

Since being released earlier this year, I have seen just ONE reference to these letter grades.  That was on a hit piece of mail a PAC in Montgomery sent out saying “33 of 50 schools graded D or F by the state.”

Of course, no where did anyone mention that these letter grades were based on a test that the state no longer uses because it was deemed unreliable.  No where did anyone call A-F “junk” science with no merit.

There is no value in such grades.  Unless that is, you are like some folks in Montgomery intent on painting public schools as terrible.

Every law that is passed can also be repealed.  A-F school report cards is a prime example of one that should be.

 

 

Mass Confusion

Two pieces of legislation graphically illustrate how Alabama enacts laws that make little sense and defy logic.

One is a bill passed in 2012 that assigns a letter grade of A, B, C, D or F to every school in the state.  The other is the Alabama Accountability Act passed in 2013 that declares that the bottom six percent of all schools should be labeled “failing.”

Common sense tells us that a “failing” school in all probability would also be one with an “F” grade.  Surely there must be some common linkage between both of these measurements?  Guess again.

For instance, of the 75 schools designated as “failing” by the Alabama Accountability Act in January 2018, only 36 of them received an F according to the A-F school report card measurements.

Of the remaining 39, two got a C and 37 got a D.

So, we put out info last January saying there are 75 “failing” schools.  Then we come along shortly after saying, no only half of them are..

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Each year the Council for Leaders of Alabama Schools (CLAS) goes through an extensive process to identify “Banner Schools” from each of the districts represented on the state board of education.

There are eight districts.  Three schools are chosen from each district and then one from each district.

Here are the top three from each district for 2018, with the score as given by the state A-F school report card.  The overall winner is the last  one listed.

District 1—Baker high, Mobile County system—C

Citronelle high, Mobile County system—C

Mary B. Austin elementary, Mobile County system—B

District 2—Kinston school, Coffee County system—B

Lance elementary, Lanett city system—D

Eufaula elementary, Eufaula city system—D

District 3—Meadow View elementary, Alabaster city system—C

Montevallo elementary, Shelby County system—B

Childersburg middle, Talladega County system—B

District 4—Central elementary, Tuscaloosa city system—D

Westlawn middle, Tuscaloosa city system—F

Paul W. Bryant high, Tuscaloosa city system—D

District 5—Pike County high, Pike County system—B

U.S. Jones elementary, Demopolis city system—C

Booker T. Washington high, Macon County system—D

District 6—Cullman elementary, Cullman city system—A

Hartselle intermediate, Hartselle city system—A

Boaz high, Boaz city system—C

District 7—Florence high, Florence city system—B

Howell Graves preschool, Muscle Shoals city system—NA

Russellville high, Russellville city system–B

District 8—James Clemens high, Madison city system—A

Mill Creek elementary, Madison city system—A

Riverton elementary, Madison County system—B

So, you have 24 of the better performing schools in the state, as selected by experienced educators and the A-F school report card says there are more Cs and Ds than As.

One final look at insanity.

When you look at the high schools in the state with the 20 HIGHEST average ACT scores and the 20 with the LOWEST, you discover they have one thing in common.

According to the A-F school report card, both lists have one C school on them.

McIntosh high school in Washington County has an average ACT of only 14.7.  In fact, there are only two schools that are lower.  Grissom high in Huntsville has an average of 23.1 ACT.  There are only five schools in the state higher than Grissom.

But the A-F school report card system says both are C schools.  Forget the 8.4 points difference in ACT scores, someone wants us to believe they are equals.

Again, logic is no where to be found when looking at letter grades for high schools and ACT scores.

Since there are supposedly 134 A schools statewide, would seem that the top 20 ACT scores would all rate an A?  Nope.  There are six As, 13 Bs and the aforementioned C.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are 104 F schools.  Again, enough to give every school on the bottom of ACT scores an F.  Wrong again.  There are five Fs, 14 Ds and one C.

And we wonder why teachers and administrators pull out their hair?  It’s because they are constantly whipsawed by such nonsense that at the end of the day is only used to make public schools look bad.

 

BCA’s Canary Flies The Coop

The political grapevine hummed Friday, July 6 with news that Billy Canary, long time CEO of the Business Council of Alabama, announced his resignation.  Canary has been in hot water for months concerning his management style and combative approach to working with legislators.

And apparently the water got too hot to handle in recent weeks when several of the stalwarts of the organization, such as Alabama Power, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Regions bank and PowerSouth, made very public withdrawals.

Canary became CEO in 2003 and BCA became one of the most powerful lobbying forces in Alabama.  His influence skyrocketed in 2010 when the backlash against the election of President Obama created a supermajority of Republicans in both the Alabama House and Senate.  With Del Marsh firmly in control of the Senate and Mike Hubbard as Speaker of the House, Canary was clearly in the catbird’s seat.

This was about the same time that BCA began spending money trying to get their friends elected to the state school board.  Like real money.  Like hundreds of thousands of dollars on some races.  For instance they spent nearly $300,000 in 2016 hoping to elect Justin Barkley in place of incumbent Stephanie Bell and hoping that appointed incumbent Matt Brown could hold off the challenge of Jackie Zeigler.  Both were unsuccessful.

Several years ago BCA created the Business Education Alliance and hired former state school superintendent Joe Morton and former chair of the House Ways & Means Education committee Jay Love.  This group’s playbook looked like something straight from the American Legislative Exchange Council or a Jeb Bush foundation.  One would be hard-pressed to call either an advocate for public schools.

Me being me, I have not shied from pointing out the shortcomings of BCA’s effort to shape public education.  Like here and here.

And in the world of an eye for an eye, BCA played an active role in making sure I lost in the primary for a seat on the Montgomery County school board.  Billy Canary gave my opponent $250 and Jay Love gave him $1,500, in addition to activities by various and sundry other BCA operatives.

Now that I think about it, mine may be the last hide that Canary can tack on his wall of trophies.  Which is not saying much when your target is a 75-year-old candidate for a local school board.  For sure, BCA’s contributions to state school board candidates in the 2018 election cycle are nowhere close to as large as they were just two years ago.

What happens now?  How does Canary’s absence impact BCA and their stance of public education?  They are a powerful group for sure and could definitely be impactful in working with public education to tackle some challenges.  But over the past few years, they have seemed intent to be a public education adversary–not an ally.

We can only hope for a change.

State Pulls Plug On Non-Accredited Schools Using Accountability Act

There are now 57 fewer private schools on the list of those approved to get vouchers for student tuition through the Alabama Accountability Act because of a lack of accreditation.  Ten of them had been unaccredited since joining the program in 2013.

Today schools have three years to become accredited.  As of June 11, five unaccredited schools are still on the list of participating non-public schools compiled by the Alabama Department of Revenue.  They have yet to meet the three-year deadline.

AL.com has an extensive article about what is taking place.  Go here.

At present the state shows there are seven scholarship granting organizations (SGO) in Alabama.  However, as of the March 31, 2018 quarterly report for each, only four had active scholarship students.  The largest, with 1,639 scholarships, is Scholarships for Kids in Birmingham.  Next, with 1,593 students, is Alabama Opportunity Scholarship Fund, also in Birmingham.  Two others only had a total of 101 scholarships as of March 31.

According to AL.com, AOSF had 135 students at schools being dropped for lack of accreditation.  A spokesman for Scholarships For Kids said they only had eight.

Irony: Within the last few months, Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange, interim state superintendent Ed Richardson and new state superintendent Eric Mackey have been very outspoken concerning the possibility of the Montgomery school system losing accreditation  However, none of them expressed concern that six non-accredited Montgomery private schools had 54 students on scholarships being paid for by money diverted from the state’s Education Trust Fund.

So if public school students go to non-accredited schools it is bad.  But that standard must not apply to private schools

 

 

 

Runoff Contributions For Montgomery School Board Races Make Things Clearer

There will be four runoff elections on July 17 for Montgome3ry County school board seats.  All are on the Democratic ticket.

District 1 has Fredrick Turner and Marcus Vandiver vying for the opportunity to face Republican incumbent Lesa Keith in November  Democrats Brenda Irby and Clare Weil are running in District 2.  The winner will face Republican Ted Lowry.  In District 5, either Rhonda Oats or Devona Sims will square off against  Republican Jannah Bailey in the general election.

And in District 6, incumbent Robert Porterfield faces Claudia Mitchell.  Since there is no Republican running, the July 17 winner will  be on the board.

Porterfield and Mitchell were neck and neck on June 5.  He had 1,553 votes to her 1,525.  But financial info from the Secretary of State’s web site shows that Mitchell is now being supported by the group (MGM NXT PAC) wanting a new board.  Porterfield has only raised $1,225 in the last two reports–and spent $1,526.  He has $390 cash on hand.

However, it’s a very different situation with Mitchell as she has raised $12,958 and spent $4,393 in the same period and has $9,251 in the bank.  She got $5,000 from the Alabama Builders PAC, $2,500 from the Alabama Realtors PAC, and $2,500 from Mac McLeod, MayorTodd Strange’s executive assistant.  (McLeod also gave $2,500 to MGM NXT PAC.  Strange has given $2,000 to this group as well.)

Realtors and homebuilders were also prominent in the primary campaign.  Lowry got $1,000 from Alabama Realtors PAC, as well as $1,000 from Montgomery Association of Realtors and $2,500 from Greater Montgomery Homebuilders.  Bailey received $5,000 from Alabama Builders and $1,000 from Alabama Realtors.  Lowry and Bailey were two of the four candidates endorsed in the primary by MGM NXT PAC.  The two others were Weil and Carey Owens in District 5.

About the only thing you can say with certainty about politics is that there are always things that happen that can’t be easily explained.  This is definitely the case in the Democrat race in District 2 between Irby and Weil.  Irby is very much a “mystery” candidate.  I never met her in the primary.  She was not at any of the candidate forums I attended.  Nor did she file paperwork showing she raised or spent $1,000.

Yet, she led the Democrat ticket with 42 percent of the vote, compared to 38 percent for Weil, who raised $13,330 and spent $10,203.

Oats had a substantial lead over Sims on June 5, 46 percent to 26 percent  Like Irby, Sims has not reached the $1,000 threshold to file a financial statement.  Oats shows raising $320 in her last two reports and spending $539.

Turner and Vandiver were very competitive on June 5 with Turner getting 37 percent and Vandiver 35 percent.  One of them will face Keith in November, who had no primary opposition.

District 3 was decided on June 5 when Brenda Deramus Coleman defeated Philip Ensler.  Coleman will replace Eleanor Dawkins, who did not seek re-election.

The board presently has four Democrats and three Republicans.  Regardless of what happens July 17, the next board will still have at least four Democrats.  As of July 3, MGM NXT PAC has spent $84,091 on their effort to dramatically impact the composition of the MPS board.  And while District 2 (Durden Dean) and District 3 (Eleanor Dawkins) are both getting new members because of resignations, the jury is still out on what the return on investment by the political action committee will be.

Rip Van Winkle Is Alive And Well In Montgomery

“With each new superintendent, hope springs eternal that someone will be found who can lead us to the Promised Land.

While only time will tell if there is a savior among us, whoever steps into the leadership role will face a much greater challege than a divided school board and taxpayer apathy.

He or she will become the chief administrator of a public school system that has lost one-fifth of its potential enrollees to non-public schools and of a student body that is largely dominated by children from single-parent families and low-income households.

These basic demographic factors are, within themselves, not conducive to raising standardized test scores, increasing graduation rates, or curbing violence in schools.  ….student demographics will continue to have a significant impact on what takes place in the classroom setting.

Public school enrollment has been declining gradually during much of the past decade  Non-public school students are predominately white, from higher income homes, and more likely to perform well on standardized tests, receive college and university scholarships, and generally excel in the classroom.  While not all the cream has been skimmed from the Montgomery public schools, there is not as much as there used to be.

The demographics of the black population are especially distressing.  While too many children–both white and black–reside in single parent families, are from low-income household, or are classified below the poverty level, these negative social and educational indicators occur much more frequently in the black community.

Such a high concentration of these characteristics in any population does not bode well for academic achievement and classroom success.  (A superintendent) can do little on an individual basis to ameliorate these deep-seated community problems.  Instead, it must be a cooperative effort, involving all sectors of the community.

Improvement will not come quickly or easily, but the need for a better educated, more highly informed populace cannot be ignored.”

No.  These are not my words.  They were written by my long time friend, Don Bogie, former director of the Center for Demographic and Cultural Research at AUM, AND PUBLISHED IN THE MONTGOMERY ADVERTISER ON JUNE 26, 1998.  ALMOST EXACTLY 20 YEARS AGO.

But they definitely echo my thoughts of just three days ago when I asked. “Can Montgomery Handle The Truth About Its Schools?”

Don’s article was passed long to me by my friend Wiley Cutts, who spent 17 years as principal at Lanier high school and 30 years in the Montgomery system.  And if anyone sees the irony in what I said last week and what Don said two decades ago, it would be Wiley.

As I read Don’s comments, it was impossible not to think of the tale of Rip Van Winkle who slept for 20 years in New York’s Catskill Mountains and missed the American Revolution.  Because just like ole Rip, Montgomery has been asleep for 20 years.

We’ve gone through a series of superintendents and school board members.  And today we are raising thousands of dollars to demean the 29,000 students, teachers and administrators and somehow deceiving good citizens into thinking this is PROGRESS.  We got involved with a state intervention directed by a state superintendent who was clueless about what needed to be done and “helped” a deficient financial situation by squandering money left and right.

Don Bogie was correct when he stated: (A superintendent) can do little on an individual basis to ameliorate these deep-seated community problems.  Instead, it must be a cooperative effort, involving all sectors of the community.

Improvement will not come quickly or easily, but the need for a better educated, more highly informed populace cannot be ignored.”

But unlike Rip Van Winkle, Montgomery refuses to wake up.

 

 

 

 

 

Can Montgomery Handle The Truth About Its Schools?

In 1992 the movie, A Few Good Men, told the riveting story of a military court martial.  The climatic moment being when the character played by Jack Nickolson says to the character Tom Cruise played, “You can’t handle the truth.”

That scene has gone through my mind over and over as I’ve watched the current hand-wringing about the MPS school board play out.

Because Montgomery and it’s “leadership” refuse to come face to face with reality in regards to our public school system.

Instead, we have press conferences, blame everyone else and raise money to fuel political campaigns based on deceit and deception.

And some good and well-intentioned people blindly follow those who say all our problems rest at the feet of our current school board.

Nothing could be farther from the truth.

More than anything else, we have a COMMUNITY problem in Montgomery and all my friends who have written checks in support of the Expect More for Montgomery Public Schools campaign need to take a long, hard look in the mirror.

What have YOU DONE to help our public schools? Do you belong to a public school PTA?  Do you mentor a struggling student?  When I was a surrogate dad at the Goodwyn Middle school “Dad and Daughter Dance” recently, I didn’t see any of you there.

And writing a check to hire a political consultant to come up with big post cards slamming our school system is hardly paying your debt to society.

I sat through several candidate forums leading up to the June 5 primary. I listened to good people share their ideas.  Things like, “I went to Lanier and I don’t know why it can’t be like it used to be,” or, “I know how to fix things,” or my favorite, “all schools should be magnets.”

The one thing they all had in common is that they had evidently not spent enough time in schools talking to teachers and principals, especially those in high-poverty schools. As a result, they were all looking for band aides—instead of trying figure out why our schools are bleeding.

This includes the mayor, the chamber of commerce and the folks writing the checks to the political action committee.

We have a COMMUNITY problem and our schools are only a symptom.

Montgomery has three school systems. More than 35 private schools, eight magnet schools and 44 more traditional schools.

The differences in demographics in magnet and traditional schools is glaring. The poverty rate for magnets is only 14.6 percent but is 63.7 percent in traditional schools.

Since the greatest predictor of student and school performance is poverty, this nearly 50-point gap in poverty between magnets and traditional is very telling. And a strong message that any “turnaround” effort focused on just the school board or even classroom has a scant chance to move the needle.

Don’t think so? Then attend any PTA meeting at a magnet and non-magnet school.  Bear elementary has more PTA members than they do students.  It’s an entirely different story in traditional schools.

Which means comparing the home environment of students in these schools is apples and oranges. And wondering why all schools aren’t magnets makes as much sense as wondering why the football team at Huntingdon can not beat the one at the University of Alabama.

But instead of leadership trying to find common ground and unify Montgomery, we’re holding press conferences that divide us even more.

Until this community thinks of its public schools as “our” schools we’re kidding ourselves by thinking changing faces at the school board will make much difference. How can the school board by itself lower school poverty rates.  A principal of a school with an 84 percent poverty rate told me probably 90 percent of her kids come from single parent homes.  Can the school board round up dozens of daddies?

Ministers, both black and white, should be sitting down together to figure out how they can assist their neighborhood schools. The Montgomery Education Foundation should work WITH the MPS board, instead of being an adversary.  Expect More for Montgomery Public Schools should be raising money to help teachers buy needed supplies, not stuffing mail boxes with fliers screaming “our school board and our school system are broken.”

Instead of talking about charter schools, the mayor should look at Washington D.C. that has perhaps the worst school system in the country—and a greater percentage of students in charter schools than anywhere else.

We need to attack our issues with community-centered schools that provide wraparound services. We need to engage the whole community in doing this.  We had two community school pilots two years ago.  Then the state intervention took away their funding.

The truth is that education is everyone’s business—not just the school board’s. And as long as we claim them as the scapegoat, while we let everyone else off the hook, we are not accepting the truth.

 

A Teacher To The End

A Teacher To The End

Tammy Waddell taught fifth grade at Sawnee elementary school in Cumming, GA.  Unfortunately, she recently lost her bout with cancer.

Obviously loved by many, her on-line obituary had page after page of remembrances from co-workers, parents and former students.  Many said she was the best teacher they ever had.

A teacher to her dying breathe, Tammy requested that instead of flowers at her service people should bring backpacks of food for needy students at her school.

As the picture shows, her wish was granted.

I never knew Tammy, but I have met many of her counterparts in the last decade.   People who give so unselfishly to the young lives in their care.

The same people politicians seem so intent on denigrating over and over and over.