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06 February 2013

Bibb County School Board Dysfunction Disgraces the Memory of Matilda Hartley

There is, I believe, no greater honor for a teacher than to have a school bear their name.

As readers of this site now know, my mother is a product of the Bibb County School System. Growing up, I remember my mom recounting the stories of her schooling at L.H. Williams Elementary School and Peter G. Appling High School (There were no middle schools in 1950s Macon, Georgia). Above all, I remember my mother talking about her favorite teachers, and one name kept coming to the front in those conversations. Matilda Hartley.

Ms. Hartley, as my mother calls her to this day, taught my mom to read in the first grade. Decades later, when I asked my mom to teach me how to read, she recalled how Ms. Hartley taught her how to read and decided she wanted me to learn that way.

Hartley Elementary School, in Macon Georgia, is named after Matilda Hartley; my mom's first grade teacher.

These days, when one can cut the dysfunction on the Bibb County school board with a hot butter knife, I wonder if any thought is given to how school board actions are disgracing the memory of great teachers like Matilda Hartley.

Recently, Bibb County School Board members failed to even complete their most basic task. At their 17 January 2013 meeting, the Bibb County School Board did not elect a Board President or Vice President. Electing officers is the first order of business every January for the Bibb County School Board, but the clowns in charge down there didn't do it.

Actions (or in this case, inaction) like that disgrace the name of Matilda Hartley. It leaves the impression that if the school board can't complete its most basic function, what hope is there of board members putting children first and doing what's best for them.

The Macon newspapers detail story after story of lawsuits, subpoenas and calls for investigative inquiries. Not one story focuses on the students. Not one story focuses on the teachers.

Bibb County can do better. They can honor great teachers like Ms. Hartley by focusing all their efforts on students and teachers. That's what needs to be done.