Category: Education

By Benita M. Dodd In 2017, U.S. World and News Report’s ranking of the best states to live featured not a single Southern state in the top 10. Georgia, at No. 32 overall, finished at No. 31 in the education rankings; Massachusetts was No. 1 in education and No. 8 overall. When it comes to education, it’s nothing new for Georgia to end up in the bottom half of national rankings. But a new report by University of Texas researchers suggests it’s not education necessarily at fault in Georgia and other Southern states. It’s ranking systems that fail to make an “apples to apples” comparison between states. “Students arrive in class on the first day of school with different backgrounds,… View Article
A Savannah Morning News editorial published on June 22, 2018 warns that teacher pension reform is crucial for teachers and taxpayers. The editorial can be accessed online here and is reprinted in full below. Editorial: Reform teacher pension fund to control school taxes  The tax villains ran roughshod this week, passing increases that will appear across several columns in our fall property tax bills. As is always the case, the public is assigning blame. And, as always, they point to the easy targets, the men and women who hold titles such as manager or superintendent; mayor, chairman or president; or alderman, commissioner or school board rep. The one true scoundrel in our tax chaos, who goes by the initials TRS,… View Article

School Choice Progress Far from ‘Bad Policy’

By Kyle Wingfield A summertime surprise is roiling the Georgia GOP’s gubernatorial primary. A defeated candidate recently released a recording in which Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle said he supported a school-choice bill he deemed “bad policy,” merely to prevent a big campaign donation to a rival candidate. Now Cagle, who faces Secretary of State Brian Kemp in next month’s runoff, is on the defensive. Whatever one makes of the politics of it all, was this bill truly “bad” policy? Not in the least. House Bill 217 raised the cap on the state’s popular tuition tax-credit scholarship program to $100 million from $58 million. The program allows donors to non-profits awarding scholarships for private-school tuition to claim a dollar-for-dollar credit against… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Eighty percent of Georgia’s students graduate from high school. What happens to the one in five who don’t? Michael Boggs, now a Georgia Supreme Court Justice, was co-chairman of the Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform when he remarked that he counted just 34 high school graduates among the first 6,000 criminal defendants he dealt with in felony criminal court in six rural counties. Twenty-five years ago, concerned about a report that declared high school dropouts the greatest domestic threat to national security, U.S. Sens. Sam Nunn of Georgia and John McCain of Arizona formed the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. Today, 40 Youth ChalleNGe Academy programs exist in 27 states and territories, turning around the… View Article

Embrace Student Loan Debt, Don’t Erase It

By Jeffrey Dorfman The total of all student loan debt just hit $1.5 trillion, so prepare for a slew of stories telling you how student loan debt is out-of-control and we must reform the program to avoid a crisis. Ignore the hype. The reality is that most borrowers are using student loans responsibly, graduate with a perfectly reasonable amount of debt, and are making a smart investment. Given the excellent return on investment from college educations, why is society acting like student loan debt is a problem? Instead, we should be glad so many people are acting in a way that will make the country better off in the long run. Since the start of the 2007-2009 recession, the… View Article
By Martha Nesbit May 7-11 is National Charter Schools Week. This commentary, celebrating Georgia’s first start-up public charter school and the 20th anniversary of the state’s 1998 legislation, is based on remarks by Martha Nesbit at the Georgia Charter Schools Association Annual Conference on March 7, 2018. The story I will tell you sounds like it could not possibly be true, but it is, because it happened to me! From 1974 to 1986 I was food editor of The Savannah Morning News. Then I gave up my wonderful job to become a stay-at-home mom for our two little boys. But we really needed money, so I agreed to teach preschool at the church less than a mile from our home… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield As students know all too well, spring isn’t just the time when baseball returns and flowers bloom. ‘Tis also the season for testing. It’s important to know if students are learning as they should, and to hold schools accountable if not. But since the No Child Left Behind Act became law in 2002, ushering in an era of “high-stakes testing,” students and parents as well as teachers and administrators have wondered: Are these tests telling us anything accurate about student performance? The short answer is, yes – but it’s worth parsing the numbers to understand them better. Take the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, dubbed the “nation’s report card.” Between 2003 (the first year the… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Forgive the repetition, but for a lot of people this simple fact doesn’t seem to be sinking in. The legislative session that ended March 29 saw a number of policy fights, but the most surprising, and disappointing, might have been the one waged over a bill to bring state charter schools — one subset of one subset of public schools — merely up to the statewide average for per-pupil funding. House Bill 787 didn’t clear the Senate until after 8 p.m. on Day 40, more than a month after the House passed it. In the end, it did so with the support… View Article

Don’t Shortchange Public Charter Schools

By Kyle Wingfield Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Charter schools are public schools. Forgive the repetition, but for a lot of people this simple fact doesn’t seem to be sinking in. The legislative session that ended March 29 saw a number of policy fights, but the most surprising, and disappointing, might have been the one waged over a bill to bring state charter schools — one subset of one subset of public schools — merely up to the statewide average for per-pupil funding. House Bill 787 didn’t clear the Senate until after 8 p.m. on Day 40, more than a month after the House passed it. In the end, it did so with the support… View Article
By Benita M. Dodd Crossover Day, day 28 of Georgia’s legislative session, is the deadline by which legislation must pass out of one chamber into the next in order to have a chance at becoming law. The Georgia House ended its Crossover Day past the midnight hour Thursday. Among the casualties was legislation to establish education savings accounts. This mechanism would have allowed parents to spend their child’s state public education dollars on a menu of pre-approved education services, including private school and tutoring expenses. Not even an amendment to restrict the program to one quarter of 1 percent of the Georgia’s public school enrollment – fewer than 4,500 students – would sway opponents. The Department of Audits and Accounts… View Article

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U.S. Representative Johnny Isakson more quotes