Congratulations! Georgia Virtual School science department chair Asherrie Yisrael has been selected as a finalist for National Online Teacher of the Year. The award has two sponsor organizations: the Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) and the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL).
Yisrael was named 2010 – 2011 Georgia Virtual School Teacher of the Year. Her specialties are advanced placement physics, forensic science and physical science. Georgia Virtual School (GAVS) is the state Department of Education online learning program resource. It has about 10,000 students who select online courses from a broad-based curriculum.
Thirty-nine online teachers from 26 states were nominated for the SREB – iNACOL award. The winner will be announced on March 1 during SREB’s virtual learning conference in Atlanta. Other finalists are Leslie Fetzer from North Carolina and Tracey Seiler from South Carolina.
SREB and iNACOL established the national online teacher award two years ago. Yisrael is the second Georgia teacher nominated. Gabrielle Bray of Gwinnett County was nominated in 2010.
School Choice Rally: It’s looking like at least 1,500 will rally for School Choice outside the State Capitol at 10:00am Wednesday. And perhaps the weather will cooperate — mild and partly cloudy!
Georgia legislators will address alternate authorization for charter schools during the current General Assembly. The latest negative headlines include Gwinnett County again turning down a charter for Ivy Preparatory Academy whose students have an outstanding academic record, and Fulton County’s rejection of the Fulton Science Academy which was named a 2011 National Blue Ribbon School Award recipient by the U.S. Department of Education.
The Americans for Prosperity Georgia chapter will present screenings of its new film “Making The Grade in Georgia” hourly start at 2:00pm in the Georgia Room of the Twin Towers office building directly across the street from the State Capitol. Here is a link with more information.
Georgia Tax Climate: Wednesday morning the conservative Tax Foundation will release its 2012 business climate index that measures how states compare in five categories: corporate tax, personal income tax, sales tax, unemployment insurance tax and property tax. Data is based on tax policies as they existed last July 1 when most states began their new fiscal years.
The Tax Foundation ranking is not against any specific baseline. States can move up or down even if they make no changes because revisions in other states can affect overall rankings.
The Tax Foundation ranked Georgia No. 34 nationally last year. Foundation economists found 33 states with overall better business tax climates and 16 that were worse. Georgia tax reform remains a work in progress this year after the 2011 Legislature was unable to enact reform.
Unemployment insurance tax gets less attention than it deserves. Georgia began to borrow federal funds starting in December 2009 because the state could no longer afford to write unemployment benefit checks. Georgia owes $721 million in principal plus tens of millions of dollars in annual interest. Options to find repayment dollars include imposing higher taxes on employers and reducing benefits, which could mean fewer weeks, smaller checks or both.
The Tax Foundation business tax climate index will be released at 10:00am Wednesday.
Yellow Jackets 1, Volunteers 0: Friday’s announcement that Georgia Tech will become a national tier one university transportation research center means the state made a better case than our nearest northern neighbor. Tennessee would have located a national think tank at the Center for Transportation Research on the University of Tennessee campus in Knoxville.
Governor Nathan Deal announced Georgia’s plan to pursue the transportation research center initiative last May when he addressed the state Logistics Summit in Atlanta. Georgia Tech will coordinate research by seven state universities plus three in Alabama and Florida. Tech was also named to participate in a regional initiative coordinated by the University of Florida.
Here’s a salute to the Woodruff Foundation that provided essential local startup seed money. The total investment for two years will be $7 million with half from the federal government.
HOPE, Again: About those reports that the HOPE scholarship could face a new economic tsunami because so many Georgia kids are qualifying for the full tuition Zell Miller Scholarship: Really? Are these kids nothing like the 50 percent who lose HOPE after one school year? And if we suddenly have so many super smart kids, why do our national test scores still suffer?
New proposals are already being floated to address HOPE financial stability one year after the General Assembly thought it had bought the scholarship program some time. While all those numbers are being crunched, perhaps someone should look at why more than half lose the scholarship after one year, two-thirds after two years and nearly three-fourths after three years.
HOPE matters. But HOPE should not become just another government spending program.