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Monday, June 07, 2010

Questions Fly Regarding Alternative Energies Class Taught At Birmingham Falls Elementary.

Birmingham Falls Elementary is the newest public school in Milton.

It’s not the 4th of July yet, but a Katie Reeves community meeting at Northwestern Middle school provided an early fireworks display...

By Tim Enloe; Accessmilton.com.

Do you believe in Global Warming? Is it myth or a proven science? In Milton, the answer differs substantially depending on who you talk to.

A heated debate transpired unexpectedly between Fulton County Board of Education Member Katie Reeves and some local PTA volunteers at a recent community meeting at Northwestern Middle School. The issue at hand was an environmental lesson on alternative energies which was being taught by parent and PTA volunteer and environmental Director Kathy Johnson. The class had been recently cancelled on Friday, May 7th, but by who and why?

Katie Reeves holds community meetings at various schools throughout her district with the focus of open communication between the Fulton County Board of Education and parents. The meeting at Northwestern on May 17th, was supposed to be no different. However, some in attendance believed that she was being set up this time around. “It seemed as they (Other PTA Members) had an agenda prepared in advance” parent Adriana Marchese shared, “It was done inappropriately and appeared to be very uncomfortable to everyone in attendance.”

During the exchange, Johnson interrupted the flow of the meeting and had accused Reeves of being the one behind the last minute cancellation which Reeves vehemently denied. Birmingham Falls Principal Trussell was in attendance as well. When pressed as to who they believed ended the class, parent Lisa Cauley stated, “the Principal made the call to cancel the class.” Adriana Marchese agreed,”Mr. Trussell the BFE Principal. The buck stops with the principal of a school.”

Accessmilton.com not only reached out to Principal Trussell, but also to other active parents in attendance on the other side of the coin. After numerous phone calls and emails, no information on their perspective was provided at press time.

Reeves had been made aware of the concern by Cauley. “Anytime a parent is upset about something, even if it is one parent, it is enough to ask a question…” commented Reeves.

Mrs. Cauley's issue was primarily about the lack of parental notification and approval of such materials - “The parents have a right to know what outside influences and materials are being presented to our children in our schools that isn’t coming from the GDE or Fulton County teachers. If it isn't GA Curriculum instructed by teachers then the parents should see the material ahead of time so they can decide what their own children participate in or not," she relayed. “I felt the supplemental environmental lesson plan presented by the Environmental Director of this school was a controversial topic, and after reviewing the original lesson plan months ago it was presenting a one sided point of view and opinion”.

According to sources, the Principal and CST, Patty Franklin, earlier this year, had revised the alternative energies lesson several times, and removed the climate change portion of the lesson altogether. The recent lesson cancelled was a new lesson, not the revised one, which was going to be presented to K and 1st grades.

When pressed as to whether or not they viewed the class's topic as controversial, Mrs. Marchese replied "If it is about "Global Warming" it is extremely controversial... Do I think we should be taking care of our planet? Yes. Give me facts, not opinion! I don't believe this would be a great lesson to be taught by teachers and volunteers."

The uproar at the meeting was proof enough for many at this meeting that this topic is indeed controversial. In the end, the biggest controversy of all appeared to be a weakness in policy, and the lack of transparency of supplemental or controversial materials taught by PTA parent volunteers or any other outside organization, with the notification and protocol involving such. “I think that everything should be transparent…this is about policy,” concluded Reeves.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

"If it is about "Global Warming" it is extremely controversial... Do I think we should be taking care of our planet? Yes."

I totally agree. Whether global warming is real has little relevance on teaching how to take care of the planet. But we're still no closer as to why the class was shut down? Was the teacher doing something wrong? Or did a lets-ruin-it-for-everyone parent complain?

Anonymous said...

It wasn't a Fulton County teacher if you read the article, it was a volunteer PTA mom teaching supplemental material to the children in this school. Obviously something was wrong with the lesson or the Principal woudn't have cancelled it.

Tim, did the Principal respond at all? Why not?

I guess the only thing heating up, is his school! Hah!

Anonymous said...

From what I have heard, the material (and all previously delivered material under the same program) was reviewed and approved by the school's curriculum support teacher and the principal, and was in line with published Georgia public school standards.

I think the only thing that was "wrong" with the lesson was that Mrs. Cauley had an issue with the topic (which is fine), raised a stink without reviewing the material (fine with the stink, not so much with the lack of review...or the presumption that she has final approval authority), and got Reeves to support her point of view/pressure the Principal (silly, mean-spirited, arrogant,denial-before-debating boorishness) to the point that he didn't want to deal with the cat fight. And as he has not responded...probably still doesn't want to.

But that's all moot. The new FCSB volunteer policy will effectively choke off most supplemental programs like this in future years, probably for the worse for all concerned. That point seems to be getting lost in the drama over the green stuff.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Cauley spends her time writing letters of complaint but I have yet to hear about her putting time into the schools, but she will donate her money any old day. She bought a tree for her city too though, and fought against the school for "Environmental Reasons", or at least got her entire community in an uproar, pitted against Ms. Reeves and the FCBOE.

Whose has who in the palm of their hand now, and why? Don't be foolish, either Ms. Cauley is a Hypocrite or she is up to something. Ms. Reeves, she is an entirely different ball of wax.

Anonymous said...

Ms Norvelle's take on this issue is deafening.

Anonymous said...

I am glad questions were raisedp about this topic. I wasn't aware of it at all, and that is upsetting. It is controversial and I had no idea this was going on in this school. Now I am not happy with the Principal for letting this go on in the first place. Where was my notification of the class and access to the material, how come only one parent was made aware and got to see it?? What is going on in this school??If the lesson plan was straight from GA curriculum, then why did the Principal pull the class? You tell me?? Are people actually trying to convince us that one parent has the power over the Principal and BOE over a lesson plan? That is too wild for words. Come on, a parent was obviously concerned about what was being instructed at her school, and you guys want to persecute for it? If you are opposed to transparency then you have something to hide or are doing something wrong. Sounds to me that the PTA volunteers have found this blog, and instead of looking at the issue want to create conspiracy theories.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Who ever made the comment at 4:31 PM nailed it. It makes total sense. It makes TOTAL COMMON sense!

Anonymous said...

And, whoever made the previous comment at 7:06 PM, must have had intimate conversations with the principal to know his most inner thoughts. Was he expressing his opinion of another parent to that parent which is totally wrong on his part. So what you are saying is that he is unprofessional???? Hmmmm, really unbelievable!

Anonymous said...

I don't have a problem with Cauley (or any other parent) raising her concerns about a supplemental program. But why didn't she just raise it to the Principal or the volunteer parent first rather than go straight to Reeves and the school board? Seems like a lot of time and effort could have been saved if she offered her point of view that way. Maybe she just loves the noise she creates.

Anonymous said...

You must be the one she exposed and pissed off. Who cares about the method, that isn't important. What is important is that obviously this woman had access to our kids through the Principal to teach climate change without any of the parents in this school even knowing about it, or what was going on under our noses. I am outraged that I didn't know about this, and frankly and not happy with this principal. Hurrah for the parent who spoke up and was aware of this. Katie Reeves did the right thing and this will prevent any controversial topic from being instructed to our kids by volunteers without our knowledge. End of story. If you don't like it, then you are one of the ones that doensn't want transparency, and why is that? Got an agenda?

Anonymous said...

I am not Lisa, but I do know that she did go to the principal and his confidential woman! It was not being handled. I think he was trying to appease both sides and come out looking like the good guy to both sides. What do you do when you are at any business and you don't get your issue resolved. You go higher up the "Chain of Command" You can't say you don't. Do you just give up? I'm sure not!

Anonymous said...

Y'all are blaming one parent! It takes two (or more) to tango! Your one sided (blind sided) opinions are without all the clear facts. You are all only hearing one side of the story. Have you thought about that? Maybe you should hear Mrs. Cauley's side from Mrs. Cauley instead of hearing her side from the other side!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

You want to be critical about change of command, yet Kathy Johnson and the PTA President and the PTA VP and other PTA volunteers, organized to attack Katie Reeves at her community meeting, when they could have just called her. Give me a break.

Tim Enloe said...

All:

To answer one question, we did reach out to both Principal Trussell and Katie Reeves, as well as four individuals who attending the meeting in question. Two responded by our deadline in addition to Reeves; two did not.

Trussell did return a call via vm but relayed that he was bogged down due to the end of the school year and asked that we reach out to him the following week. We did but never heard back.

Regarding the Cauleys, I have known them for over three years. They are good people and the salt of the earth.

In conclusion, I recommend everyone reading this story who do not know those referenced in it reach out and get to know one another. In the long run, everyone can benefit for the betterment of our Milton.

Tim Enloe
Accessmilton.com
770 653 0552

Anonymous said...

Salt of the Earth? That's a loaded description of the Callley's.

Anonymous said...

Tim, you referred to Norman and Christine Bennett as salt of the earth people and I agree 100%.

If you are putting the Cauley's in the same class, your credibility just took a hit.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, calling Lisa Cauley "the salt of the earth" makes me seriously question your judgement. She did nothing but embarrass the city with her antics at the D'Aversa ethics hearing. Somebody should have filed a complaint against her after her behaviour that night.

Anonymous said...

She was the only one asking the right questions, everyone else followed Johnson's "johnson" that night. Then White become guilt ridden at the very end and makes a comment that the Ethics board was used as a political weapon.

Once again, deflect from the issue of this article and attack someone that you don't even know. you suffer from green alright, green envy. That's what happens when people can't stand other people being more successful than them. Your comments expose either you are green with envy or you have an agenda and favor volunteer activist moms using the school to preach their opinion on climate change? which is it? you are full of anger toward Ms. Cauley for exposing a weakness in policy that will now be fixed so the parents will know about it before its taught to their kids? you are obviously strongly desire this topic being taught in this school, and don't want the parents to know about it either? why else the anger over the new policy? are you Johnson? sure sounds like it to me.
When you rely on personal attacks as a defense to the issue, it makes it obvious you are angry, and that was what was expressed at the Reeves community meeting, anger..at the wrong persons.

I guess that kicking someone off the green parent committee wasn't mean spirited was it Kathy? I heard what you did third hand, and I also heard about how angry you were. First anger at Cauley for questioning your lesson and asking for the material, then anger and hostility at the Reeves meeting, and getting the PTA to go along with you, shame on the PTA. I don't think I want you teaching my kids anything at this point. You seem too angry for me. Sorry. I will make sure I voice my opinions strongly to the Principal before next year.

Anonymous said...

American Energy vs. Environmental Extremism:

1. We have a 500 year supply of coal, which is and always will be the lowest cost source of electricity in our lifetime, short of some breakthrough in science in production of some new method.

2. Offshore oil reserves are big, but we dont' know how big because the Left has prevented all geologic surveys since 1984.

3. We have more oil on Land than we knew, and there are indications that the Bakken formation in ND is three times as large as previously estimated.

4. We have 3 times more oil than Saudi Arabia if you count shale oil deposits, and we have an 1100 year supply of natural gas that can now be reached due to new technology.
5. We have the technolgy to produce unlimited amounts of carbon-free electricity through nuclear power.

Traditional America wants to use all available energy and technology to strive for energy independence through an "all of the above" policy that fully expolits coal, oil, natural gas, and nuclear resources while ALSO cultivating the next generation of energy technology, biofuels, wind, hydrogen, and solar power, as well as developing new conservation methods.
However, secular socialists have a misguided attempt to create an environmental utopia, and the cynical attempts of others to use our concern for the environment as a weapon against captialism, they have restricted and regulated energy development so extensively that they have forced America, which should be an energy powerhouse, to become dependent on foreign oil, much of it from unstable or tyrannical regimes. Demonizing energy companies, they tie up every new oil, natural gas, coal, and nuclear project in years of frivoulus litigation. Only allowing development of alternative renewable energy like wind and solar, that, while useful, will take generations to diplace fossil fuels as our primary energy source. Until then, they are content for America to suffer shrinking energy supplies, rising prices, foreign dependence, and the loss of energy jobs. If we took the Traditional approach the economic effect would keep $535 billion at home ever year instead of sending it to foreign dicatiors for oil, that's over $5 Trillion a decade, more then a third of the national debt. The challenge is not natural resources, the challenge is bad government imposing bad laws, bad regulations, and bad litigation.

The traditional approach would unleash the full potential of our energy independence through our own energy supplies.

Anonymous said...

I seriously doubt that info came from Johnson's lesson. Most conservatives wouldn't even think about wanting to teach climate change to our kids in our schools, the science is very controversial and not even proven.And Johnson is no conservative since she's part of Milton Goes Green. Next thing you know the Principal will let her show the Inconvient Truth movie to the kids. No controversial material, whatever the topic is, has a place in our schools. I agree with Reeves the policy needed to happen. Thank goodness this was exposed. Tim, maybe the Principal will give you a comment now, and you could print a followup comment from him. He seems to be the key to the entire controversy in this article, "who cancelled the class?" some people can lead and some people just want to make everyone happy, which one is he? Bottom line he should be making decisions that are for the best for the children in this school, not for volunteer mom's who push their agenda on him, and he can't say no, or maybe he doesn't want to say no, he may agree with the entire climate change thing, who knows, but it doesn't matter whether he agrees with it or not, it is controversial and he should have put a stop to it early on. The buck stops with him like it was said.

Anonymous said...

Stop all this nonsense. The meeting was video taped Enloe, you know it, get it and post it, and put an end to it all the attacks on the people who were trying to do the right thing for the parents and the kids in this school. The bloggers who are against having transparency on this topic are the ones who are complaining on this blog. It seems those that want to push a certain agenda are the ones angry and upset about this coming to the forefront. Everyone else is happy that new policy is in place for next year to keep all controversial material from anyone, put before our kids. That is a good thing. Put a stop the fear mongering that this will end all supplemental programs in the schools, it won't. That is extremism and ridiculous. Having the same transparency that GA Curriculum has, with notification and easy access to the parents is not BAD. Discovery Lab is going nowhere. No one is trying to ruin "it" for everyone. Seems more like looking out for the rights of the parents in this school, who the Principal has apparently left in the dark. Why would the PTA in this school put themselves in a position to attack a BOE member at her community meeting? That is very disturbing, and maybe a change of PTA officers is at hand at this school as well. Something to look into.

:)

Anonymous said...

It's terribly transparent, however if you must, go ahead and dig yourself a deeper hole all the way thru the ocean floor to China for all i care.

Anonymous said...

But don't you dare lie to cover your arse, it's a dangerous position to be these days.

Anonymous said...

IF it was so completely transparent as the previous person writes, then how come from the article nearly all of the parents in this school had no clue of the lessons, or get to see the lessons? A write up in a PTA newsletter after isn't notice. I sure want to see the lessons from anyone on anything my kids are shown in school. There's alot of waste of paper in this school sent home anyway,kindof staggering to be honest, so what is one more flyer home to the parents?

"Dig a hole to China?" sounds like scorn.

I just can't believe after reading all these comments that any parent would have an issue with the new policy. comments like that one speak volumes.

Anonymous said...

6:43... Because there is a Curriculum Specialist who is non-partial, non-judgemental and is supposed to be the one to be consulted before taking the issue of Global Warming all the way to Cindy Loe, Because we do all care but it is way is was handled that deserves attention to make sure that this NEVER happens again. Ms. Cauley's point is well taken however where many have issue is, whether for Environmental Education in our schools or not, whether for explaining how fossil fuels, coal, wind, solar, nuclear, or corn works in terms of alternative energy or not, that's not the issue. The issue here is how one parent created such chaos in an attempt to stop another volunteer from leading a class, approved by the chain of command in advance, by those people the PTA as a whole elects to put there. How, more importantly Why?

In regards to China, not sure what they mean.

Anonymous said...

The Environmental Director and a group of PTA volunteers caused the chaos, along with the President and VP of the PTA by making a huge scene by attacking Katie Reeves at her meeting, and that was the one parent's fault? Alrightythen! Even one of the volunteer's facebook page, she was rallying the troops saying that the sh-t is going to hit the fan at Katie Reeves community meeting. That is called organizing. It was not an impromptu off the cuff attack on Ms. Reeves, they had it all worked out ahead of time. Chain of command? Are you big girls here or what? After reading this story and all the comments here I feel there may very well have been some kind of agenda in this lesson. Afterall the lesson was revised as the article states, by the Principal and CST, they revised it, why did they do that if there was nothing wrong with it? You guys are saying they did it to appease one parent, and this parent, because you don't like her, now has some mystical power over Ms. Reeves, the Principal, and the entire BOE? Talk about having lost your minds! I am sure they didn't revise it because it gave a nuetral point of view?
The intuition of one parent appears dead on after all this to question the class topic just in general. If I had been told about this class, I would have asked to see it. As a parent in this school, I am just miffed as to why it is so dawg gone important to come into this school and have a supplemental program which instructs our kids on climate change and alternative energy to K-5th grades, is there nothing else about the environment that isn't controversial we can teach our kids at this age, other then this? Did the volunteer run out of other ideas?? if not, than someone lacks vision or the desire if you ask me, and so is there really one desire? How come Ms. Johnson created a new lesson, and not use the one that was revised by the Principal or CST?? If she'd of used the revised one,would the Principal have cancelled it? No, no reason to since the revised one was already given to the other grades.Did she not like the revisions made to her lesson?? Then why make a new lesson?
It is not innocuous to have only instruct one point of view. That would be opinion. This topic is full of controversy shown all through this this blog, and following the scene made at the Reeves meeting. Those blogging who aren't happy with the method the questions were raised, and Reeves response with policy, have revealed in their comments they are the ones upset that they have been stopped from apparently showing one side of view on alternative energies and climate change in my opinion. You want to be upset about someone's method which protected my child from seeing a biased view, then too bad, I am very thankful someone spoke up since I personally was unaware and would have been very upset. Put your big girl panties on.This is life, not a game. My children are not at your disposal in this school to instruct what "you" feel they need to know, that is my call not yours. How would you like if it I picked a topic I was very interested in, which you didn't agree with, and brought it to your child in this school, without your approval or notice?
The Principal needs a good ole fashioned talking to. It appears the Principal has been too intimate in conversation with Johnson, given what appears is her blog comment, divulging what was shared with him by another is what was indicated, that is extremely unprofessional. I doubt any credibility at this point, unless the Principal choses to finally speak up. Why is he so silent?? Red Flag!! Yet at this point, all is not a-okay at this school, too much conversation going on it appears and not much "confidential" That is what happens when any leader gets to upclose and personal, and doesn't keep it business only with staff and volunteers. It's one thing to be friendly and personable and show a caring concern, it's another thing to get so close where you can't govern anymore.

Anonymous said...

Too many mothers with too much time on their hands which results in having their nose in others business.

Let the teachers teach and stay the hell away. Why not try home schooling your little darlings.

Anonymous said...

Heaven help us when and if the new library is built in Milton.
We will have all of the "holier than thou " housewives centuring all of the books.
We will have the most "sterile " library ever !
We have to "protect" little Johnny from all of the world's evil ..................

Anonymous said...

I say post the video of the meeting and let's see what really happened! PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE post it!

Kathy said...

This is Kathy Johnson, the Environmental Education chair at Birmingham Falls. This is the first time I have commented on this story. No other comments were made by me. I have sent Tim Enloe a letter to the editor because my comments were too long for this blog, but I hope you will read it when he posts it. I hope to set the facts straight on a few matters for everyone and hopefully diffuse this matter.

Kathy Johnson, (not Anonymous)

Tim Enloe said...

Kathy:

Saw your comment about a letter to the editor. That is fine.

Please email it to tmenloe@aol.com as the business email is having problems.

thanks,

Tim Enloe
Accessmilton.com
770 653 0552

Anonymous said...

Tim, did some of those squash bugs get in your business computer? Time to call the Geek Squad or better yet maybe Otto the Orkin man. Just trying to be of assistance.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. If all you were trying to do was teach legitimate scientific material to our children, why where you against transparency and letting the parents know your lesson plan material before it was taught? I do not want the answer that the curriculum was approved so there was no need to tell the parents. I asked my son to bring home the material passed out to him for the green lab. He said he was not allowed to take it home. If someone wants to teach the children controversial opinionated material, why not do it at 2:30pm after school and let attendance be on a volunteer basis. That way you won't have a captured audience. If class sizes are getting bigger and the school year shortened, reading, writing and math need to be prioritized.

Anonymous said...

I have read all the blogs, watched the video of the meeting and read Ms. Johnson's response. I do not want her teaching my child anything. So I guess now there is more than one parent that is going to rock the boat.