Statements & Interviews

September 2020, AJC

AJC column acknowledges Warren County superintendent’s concerns over potential change to essential worker status for educators. It also highlights portion of PAGE’s letter to Gov. Kemp on recommendations for modifying guidelines for educators.

Click here to access the article.


September 2020, PAGE Statement on Sept. 3

“PAGE fully agrees with the statement by State School Superintendent Richard Woods in support of students and educators over adhering to federal testing requirements. Georgia’s educators and parents understand that focusing on tests designed for a different reality ignores our present circumstances – and does so at the expense of Georgia’s 1.8 million public school students.”

– Craig Harper, Executive Director


August 2020, AJC

“The Professional Association of Georgia Educators has given some input already and will be giving more, said Margaret Ciccarelli, the group’s legislative services director. She said PAGE was pleased that Kemp ‘did not rush to reclassify educators’ as workers who need not quarantine. She said the group wants ‘more robust’ virus reporting in schools and stronger paid leave policies for educators exposed to the virus.”

Click here to access the article.


August 2020, Associated Press

“All of us would prefer that schools could open, stay open, and return to their place as a vital center of community life. However, ignoring the high probability of continued community spread through elimination of quarantine protocols ensures prolonged health and safety issues for all Georgians,” Executive Director Craig Harper wrote in an accompanying letter.

Click here to access the article.


August 2020, Georgia Health News

“‘While educators understand that insurance costs will inevitably rise, and appreciate no cost increases for several years, today’s announcement regarding increased premiums during a public health and economic crisis is painful and sobering,’ said Craig Harper, PAGE executive director. ‘Last year’s employer contribution holiday undermined efforts to build and maintain a healthy SHBP reserve. PAGE encourages the Department of Community Health to maintain a healthy reserve fund to ensure that insurance cost increases are not borne by school employees.’”

Click here to access the article.


August 2020, WSB

Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE Director of Legislative Services, shares Georgia educator concerns with WSB TV.

Click here to access the video.


August 2020, WSB

“We are hearing from hundreds of educators around the state who have deep concerns about schools opening. Our educators want to go back to schools, but the question of when they go back and how they go back is critical right now,” [Margaret] Ciccarelli [PAGE Director of Legislative Services] said. “We’re hearing from more educators and districts who are either already open for face-to-face instruction or who have announced plans to resume face-to-face instruction soon. Teachers in those districts are concerned that the districts are not making accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act for conditions that the teachers have that make them more vulnerable to coronavirus. They’re also concerned if they’re providing virtual instruction that districts are requiring them to come in onto school sites to provide that virtual instruction.”

Click here to access the article.


August 2020, WGXA

“Educators are doing their best to serve students during the pandemic but these are complicated times and it’s important that they have an advocacy group,” Margaret Ciccarelli [PAGE Director of Legislative Services] says. “They’re concerned but they want to come back. The survey data indicates that. But how and when are what the controversies are here.”

Click here to access the article.


July 2020, The Red & Black

“About one in five Georgia teachers are uncertain about returning to the classroom this fall, according to a survey of roughly 16,000 educators conducted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators (PAGE). ‘No one has ever been down this road before,’ Claire Suggs, senior education policy analyst for PAGE, said. ‘It’s really important that there be open and clear dialogue…The end goal is for everyone to be back at school,’ Suggs said. ‘That’s what teachers want, that’s what families want, that’s what students want. But we want to do it as safely as possible.’”

Click here to access the article.


July 2020, Georgia Recorder

“’Returning to Georgia’s classrooms is an important step in adapting to the continued presence of COVID-19. However, doing so must be accomplished in measured ways that provide the safest possible environment for educators and students,’ [said Craig Harper, PAGE executive director]. ‘Local school leaders are making informed decisions about when it is safe to open campuses, and many have determined that virtual instruction is the best, safest option for their communities. Georgia educators have a strong desire to reunite with students in classrooms, however, that desire is matched by their equally strong expectations that doing so will occur according to a process and timeline that protects the health and safety of all involved.’”

Click here to access the article.


July 2020, AJC

“After surveying its members and discussing the state situation, PAGE released its own recommendations…In a statement, PAGE said, ‘Following these recommendations offers multiple benefits including time for the increase in COVID-19 cases to subside, and for determining the appropriate school opening strategy. A delayed opening also provides more time for safety planning, robust communication with educators, and training on safety and instructional plans.’”

Click here to access the article.


July 2020, AJC

“‘While the information released today provides some helpful guidance about preventing COVID-19 spread within open schools, Georgia’s Path to Recovery does not provide critical guidance regarding how district leaders should determine the safest and most appropriate way schools should begin the year,’ the organization of nearly 100,000 educators said in a statement. ‘COVID-19 spread in broader local communities within which schools operate should inform school opening decisions in conjunction with the actual cases of COVID-19 and exposure inside of a school.’”

Click here to access the article.


July 2020, AJC

“‘They don’t currently feel that their district plans appropriately respond to the risk,’ (PAGE Legislative Director Margaret) Ciccarelli said. Among those who identified themselves as high risk for complications of infection, 67% felt their district’s plan was inadequate.”

Click here to access the article.


July 2020, The Wall Street Journal

“‘In Georgia, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a budget bill that reduces spending by about 10%, including a $950 million cut to the main state education fund. Some poorer school districts rely on the state to cover 70% of operating expenses,’ said Margaret Ciccarelli, director of legislative services for Page Inc. [sic], the state’s teachers’ association.”

Click here to access the article.


July 2020, ‘Political Rewind’ Podcast on GPB

“‘Educators responding to the [PAGE] survey indicated a high level of trepidation about returning to school…Those who work in a district that has announced local opening plans are concerned that those don’t fully protect students and teachers as they come back to the building,’ said PAGE director of Legislative Services (Margaret Ciccarelli). More survey analysis and advocacy to come.”

Click here to hear the podcast.


June 2020, Saporta Report

“That protection of equalization grants is unquestionably a good thing, said Claire Suggs of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators…But in some districts, especially places more dependent on state money, furloughs might be a possibility, she said…”

Click here to access the article.


June 2020, A Statement from PAGE Regarding SB 367 & State-Mandated Testing

“Educators believe in accountability for their students and their learning. Educators know also that high-stakes testing is not what drives commitment and accountability. In ways big and small, educators demonstrated their personal and professional accountability during school closures when 2020 assessments were waived. PAGE members appreciate Gov. Brian Kemp, State School Superintendent Richard Woods, and state legislators for reducing state-mandated tests, reflected in approval of SB 367.”

Click here to read the statement.


June 2020, Georgia Recorder

“Craig Harper, executive director of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, said he was encouraged by efforts to protect some student services. But he said schools will be hard-pressed to provide online learning access, academic remediation, and personal protective equipment with the overall proposed cuts. ‘PAGE encourages policymakers at federal, state, and local levels to work toward solutions that minimize negative impacts on students, schools, and educators,’ Harper said.”

Click here to access the article.


June 2020, Brunswick News

“Margaret Ciccarelli, director of legislative affairs for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, pointed out that there’s no better example of how dedicated teachers are to their students than the work school staff put in during the three months of distance learning due to COVID-19.’Teachers are accountable, administrators are accountable, all members of the school team are accountable, regardless of standardized testing,’ she said.”

Click here to access the article.


June 2020, A Statement from PAGE Regarding State FY 21 K-12 Budget Proposals

“PAGE is committed to Georgia educators and the 1.8 million children they serve. We know that public education must be prioritized at all times – including during economic and social crises. In the weeks preceding today’s budget proposals, PAGE advocated for minimal cuts to K-12 funding. We delivered educator concerns directly to lawmakers – provided as a report compiled from survey responses from more than 9,100 PAGE members. You can access this report on our website.'”

Click here to read the statement.


May 2020, AJC

“‘We are encouraged by Gwinnett County Public Schools’ announcement today of an anticipated revision to their controversial plan for returning employees to on-site work,’ said Professional Association of Georgia Educators Executive Director Craig Harper. ‘PAGE has been in close contact with GCPS administration on this issue – conveying employee concerns to the superintendent and urging the district to amend the policy to prioritize the health and well-being of educators and school personnel. State School Superintendent Richard Woods and school leaders throughout Georgia have consistently recommended compassion over compliance in these unprecedented times.’”

Click here to read the article.


May 2020, WSB Radio

“Craig Harper, executive director of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest teacher group, said, ‘We know the hard economic reality of this unprecedented situation will impact public education and educators. Schools and educators meet critical and essential needs of children and families in every community. PAGE encourages legislators at state and federal levels to do everything possible to ensure that doors are open for a full school year with the staff, resources, and safety measures necessary to fulfill this vital function.’”

Click here to access the story.


May 2020, AJC

“Craig Harper, executive director of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators
the state’s largest teacher group, said: We know the hard economic reality of this unprecedented situation will impact public education and educators. Schools and
educators meet critical and essential needs of children and families in every community. PAGE encourages legislators at state and federal levels to do everything possible to
ensure that doors are open for a full school year with the staff, resources, and
safety measures necessary to fulfill this vital function.'”

Click here to read the article.


April 2020, AJC

“Over a third of the more than 15,000 respondents to the Professional Association of Georgia Educators survey said getting students online was their biggest challenge, Executive Director Craig Harper said. About 1 in 5 said their biggest problem was converting their lessons to an online format.”

Click here to read the article.


March 2020, WABE

“‘If private schools had the same requirements to adhere to those [IEP and 504] plans as public schools currently do, we would look upon the legislation much more favorably,’ said Margaret Ciccarelli, director of legislative services for PAGE.”

Click here to read the article.


March 2020, AJC

Opinion: Oppose Senate plan to divert public money to private schools

By PAGE Executive Craig Harper

Click here to read the article.


March 2020, AJC

“‘We request that lawmakers proceed cautiously when considering additional tax cuts during a time when the state has so many public service needs,’ said Craig Harper, executive director of the Professional  Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest teacher group.”

Click here to read the article.


March 2020, AJC

“Craig Harper, executive director of the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest teacher group, said, ‘Forward progress on this issue is essential to maintaining highly qualified educators in schools and classrooms. We understand that lawmakers are juggling many difficult and worthwhile budget priorities,’ he said. ‘We strongly recommend that policymakers prioritize the full raise as budget negotiations move through the legislative process.’”

Click here to read the article.


March 2020, AJC

“‘Scholarship students lose the right to the services outlined in their IEPs under the existing program or in the Section 504 eligibility criteria articulated under this bill,’ said Margaret Ciccarelli, director of legislative services for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators.”

Click here to read the article.


March 2020, Jackson Argus Progress

“Margaret Ciccarelli, director of Legislative Affairs for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, said most of the 85 emails she has received from teachers on the issue expressed similar sentiments. ‘Almost all agree the toggling back and forth is bad for students and disruptive for families,’ Ciccarelli told Pruett’s committee.”

Click here to read the article.


February 2020, AJC

“‘I suspect that advocacy in support of the pay raise will intensify next week,’ said Margaret Ciccarelli, the group’s chief lobbyist. In a survey of association members last year, compensation was the No. 1 concern, she said. The $3,000 pay raise granted last year, and the promise of more to come, may already be having an effect, at least with older teachers.”

Click here to read the article.


February 2020, Fox 5 Atlanta

“Teachers groups are showing little sign of supporting any changes to the current (teacher retirement) system, however. ‘We still have some fundamental questions about the need for this bill to move forward,’ said Craig Harper, executive director of the 97,000-member Professional Association of Georgia Educators.”

Click here to access the story.


February 2020, WJCL Savannah

“Margaret Ciccarelli, director of legislative affairs for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest teachers’ group, said the association supports fewer tests. ‘Our membership strongly indicates they believe Georgia’s assessment program is not serving student needs,’ she said.”

Click here to read the article.


February 2020, AJC

“Margaret Ciccarelli, a lobbyist for the Professional Association of Georgia Educators, the state’s largest teacher group, said she and her staff met with Benton and made suggestions on his legislation. ‘There has been a lot of confusion about this bill,’ she said.”

Click here to read the article.


January 2020, WABE 

“The Professional Association of Georgia Educators recently issued an analysis of the three voucher programs. WABE education reporter Martha Dalton talked to PAGE’s senior legislative policy analyst Claire Suggs, who authored the report…” Click here <https://www.wabe.org/will-ga-lawmakers-consider-school-vouchers-in-a-tight-budget-year/?fbclid=IwAR3kiUTefcACM6rw1IZC8yr-7T0JK8XeXCu12cyFhhncSuVwbhNUepSkKCA> to listen to the interview (access the recordings via the links beneath text in article).


January 2020, Georgia Recorder

“Teacher associations plan to continue to work with legislators to protect the teacher pay hike and other education spending: ‘It’s going to be important to work with policymakers and help everyone understand that choices aren’t made in a vacuum,’ said Margaret Ciccarelli, PAGE Director of Legislative Affairs. ‘One choice to fund something or not fund something else will have an impact in other areas of the budget…'” Click here to continue reading.


January 2020, Marietta Daily Journal

“PAGE represents more than 97,000 Georgia educators who serve students in every Georgia public school. We strongly advocate for the effective investment of public resources to advance learning for public school students…” Click here to continue reading.


State Advocacy: COVID-19 Educator Leave with Pay Letter to Superintendent Richards Woods and State Board of Education: July 2020


National Advocacy: Increased Federal Aid to Public Schools – Sample letter: U.S. Senate: May 2020

National Advocacy: Increased Federal Aid to Public Schools – Sample letter: U.S. House of Representatives: May 2020