Originally created 04/27/97

Teachers: Criticism baseless



Lily Eckelsen rattled off a litany of tasks public school teachers must perform on a daily basis that go way beyond "reading, writing and arithmetic."

Mrs. Eckelsen's checklist struck a chord with the crowd of teachers gathered Saturday at the Augusta-Richmond County Civic Center for the Georgia Association of Educators annual spring convention.

The convention, with events at the Radisson Riverfront Hotel and the civic center, started Wednesday and wrapped up Saturday as members voted on several policy changes for the organization.

A sixth-grade teacher in Utah and an executive committee member of the National Education Association, Mrs. Eckelsen was the keynote speaker for Saturday's session.

She said the public does not understand how complicated teaching in public schools is and added that constant criticism from parents, politicians and the media makes the job more difficult. "Being a classroom teacher is one of the most important and vital professions in the universe," she said.

Conventioneers, including delegates from Richmond, Columbia, McDuffie and Burke counties, nodded their heads in agreement.

The GAE, which is affiliated with the NEA, hit some rough financial times and almost went bankrupt a couple of years ago, delegates said. In response, some policy changes were directed toward the association's finances, including a rejected proposal to allow the executive board to borrow funds as needed.

Delegates also rejected a motion to publish the salaries and fringe benefits of the GAE's professional staff. That information already is available to members, said association president Grady Yancey of Emanuel County.

"I just think that information could wind up in the hands of people who are not members," said McDuffie County delegate Gwen Roundtree, who voted against the motion.