Wednesday, December 06, 2006

What Sonny Didn't Want Teachers to Know

If someone spends their life teaching Georgia's children, the State ought to honor the commitments made to them regarding their retirement. Yet, with escalating healthcare costs, driven at least in part by the unwillingness of this administration to cross insurance or drug companies and in part by the sheer number of retirees, the Associated Press has discoverd throgh open records requests and is reporting that for more than a year, the Perdue administration has been exploring raising premiums or eliminating health insurance all together for teachers and other retired state employees. The Department of Community Health has even requested an opinion from the Attorney General's Office regarding "advice regarding the nature and scope of the state's legal obligation to provide health benefits to retirees under Georgia law." This is very bad news. Here are portions of the AP article, written by Shannon McCaffrey. I should be able to provide a link to the whole article tomorrow.

ATLANTA (AP) _ Georgia faces a mounting price tag that could reach $20 billion in the coming years to cover health benefits already promised to tens of thousands of retired teachers and other state employees.

The cost is so staggering that Gov. Sonny Perdue is considering hiking premiums or eliminating health care benefits altogether for state retirees, according to e-mails obtained by The Associated Press through an open records request....

An Oct. 5, 2005, e-mail from Neal Childers of the state Department of Community Health, said that he had been instructed to prepare draft legislation authorizing the state to set different premiums for retirees than for current state employees.
Childers also went on to say in that e-mail that the state Office of Planning and Budget "is now considering elimination of benefits."

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Tina said...

Thanks, Amy, for posting this. It may interest you to know that, as a retired educator, I have been trying to find out specifics of how SHBP will cover retirees' prescription costs when they hit the medicare "gap." We were pretty much told we had to sign up for Part D or our insurance rates would go WAY up. Now that I have hit the medicare "gap," I would like specifics from SHBP like "how much" and "for how long" etc.

Anonymous said...

You called this one, Amy. Good job! I only wish that more people had listened.

Kathy said...

I was very surprised that this revelation didn't make more difference in our election results, especially in my county. My mother called every school office in the county to advise them about this development, to no apparent avail.

Aside from the obvious fallout from this incredibly callous move,
there is the chilling effect it will have in recruiting teachers and other state workers. Allegedly, we are after the best and the brightest. But will they be willing to sacrifice future security to serve our children? They have enough challenges with the classroom and the bureaucratic nightmare of "No Child Left Behind" - a misnomer if ever there was one.

It is difficult to not at least think cuss words whenever Perdue has a new proposal. You know whatever it is, the most vunerable and the least able will pay the price for his myopic, greedy priorities.

Trackboy1 said...

Speaking of teachers...

Redan community questions officials about mold
by Andy Phelan
andy@dekalbchamp.comThis email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

Monica Williams is just sick and tired of students and teachers being sick and tired. She, along with about 70 other parents and students, gathered in Redan High School’s auditorium Nov. 30 seeking answers from school officials over concerns that their school has a major problem with mold.

Dozens of students and teachers have fallen ill recently complaining of various respiratory ailments as well as unsightly rashes, discomforting skin irritations and headaches that are consistent with exposure to mold.
At times the meeting seemed more like a collective vent session than a Q&A.

“I’m offended and outraged,” she told administrators seated on stage, including Superintendent Crawford
Lewis. “You never returned my phone calls or my e-mails to explain what’s going on,” she told two school offi cials. Williams, whose daughter suffers from a bacterial/fungal skin infection, even accused
the school system of “covering up” problems at the school.

Part of the confusion stems from two seemingly contradictory letters sent home with students. One dated Nov. 3 from Principal Andrew Tatum told parents, “evidence of mold was found in the air conditioning and heating unit.” Another letter dated Nov. from Chief Operations Officer Patricia Pope told parents, “that these discolored areas are the result of dirt and dust, not mold and mildew,” she said.

Tatum’s letter indicates that the HVAC problems were corrected when the system was cleaned.
Pope, backed by initial tests for mold spores conducted by Compass Environmental
Inc. of Kennesaw on Nov. 5 said, “The first phase of the report did not indicate a problem with mold.”

Redan senior class president Bridgette Burton was not convinced. She, along with fellow student Preston Carter Jr., devoted the entire front page of the Thanksgiving issue of The Raider Review school
newspaper and a full-page inside to the mold issue.

Citing a lack of attention to resolution of their problem, Burton questioned school officials’ commitment to
their plight at the meeting. E-mails obtained under Georgia’s Open Records Act by The Champion
show Burton’s concerns are justified. In an e-mail dated Nov. 1 from Principal Tatum to Wayne Tyler, director of Plant Services, he indicates that Robert Cox, manager of the facilities department, came out
to the school to investigate “infested classrooms.” “At no time has anybody been out to inspect AC units
causing the problem,” he wrote. Students are still displaced from classes as a result. In the future, I am requesting that you send someone that thinks mold is an emergency situation when it comes to our
students, Robert Cox doesn’t think so,” said Tatum. In a more recent e-mail dated Nov. 29, Redan technology teacher Lee A. Southall told Tatum, “I could barely breathe throughout most of the day today,”
he wrote. “The students were suffering again today, as they have all week. The atmosphere
[in room 312] is stifling and detrimental to health and learning.”

The physician of another teacher who was not identified sent a letter to Area II Assistant Superintendent Horace C. Dunson Jr. in early November requesting that the teacher be transferred for “exposure to
mold at Redan.”

Sources close to the situation said some teachers have even purchased their own mold kits and sent the dishes to a lab to be tested. For Redan parent Derek Wilson, promises made by Lewis that his school is first on the list for a new HVAC system if a SPLOST III passes in March did not impress. When Lewis then pleaded with parents to help improve schools by making sure all the kids have perfect attendance, it

“My daughter has missed more than 10 days of school this semester because of headaches and breathing
problems,” he said. “She’s playing catch up a lot because she’s been so ill. Every week she’s getting sick. She hasn’t missed 10 days of school her entire career up until now.”