Category: Education

By Benita M. Dodd More than 40,000 activities and events around the nation will celebrate National School Choice Week 2019, held from January 20-26. (One is the Georgia Public Policy Foundation’s annual event on Tuesday at the Sloppy Floyd Towers, opposite the State Capitol. Find out more here.) The events and activities underscore the need for choice in children’s education: No two children are alike. They learn in different ways, in different environments and at different paces, and their opportunity to achieve shouldn’t be limited by ZIP code or their parents’ paycheck. The events showcase the options. These include public charter schools, which contract with their district or state authorizing agency, promising better results in exchange for greater flexibility… View Article

Five Facts Favoring Education Choice in Georgia

By Benita M. Dodd Given the state’s progress since Georgia’s first charter school was approved 20 years ago, it would seem unnecessary to have to remind policymakers and parents of the importance of choices in education. With the turnover under the Gold Dome, however, policymakers risk losing the lessons learned – the hard-won institutional knowledge – that reinforce the need for choice for Georgia’s families. In November’s elections, Democrats took 14 seats held by Republican legislators, shrinking the GOP majority. Republicans picked up three, giving the Democrats a net gain of 11. Those numbers, of course, are not as important as the fact there are more novice legislators and, with the antagonism toward choice displayed by many Democrats, likely more… View Article
By Jen Sidorova Georgia’s students deserve fiscally responsible public education management, but chronic underfunding of teachers’ pensions is putting that at risk. Over the past three years alone, legislators had to reroute over $600 million away from other budget priorities to make additional payments into the state’s retirement system for teachers. As of today, public education employees have been promised $25 billion more in pension benefits than Georgia is expected to have available to fully pay its obligations. Each year, a certain amount of money needs to be contributed to the pension fund in order to pay promised benefits. The required contributions has been steadily increasing – reaching 21 percent of total payroll as budgeted for 2020 – escalating the… View Article
By Evgenia Sidorova  The Teachers Retirement System (TRS) of Georgia alarmed legislators and stakeholders when it requested over $588 million in increased contributions in the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions combined, largely the result of missed actuarial assumptions. Given such a steep rise, the relatively small $25 million budget increase requested for 2019 may have signaled to some that things might be turning around for the troubled pension plan. But this would be mistaken, according to a new report published by the Georgia Public Policy Foundation and the Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation that finds the Georgia TRS has several shortcomings that could further degrade its long-run solvency. The pension system currently has $24.8 billion in unfunded pension liabilities,… View Article
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

The Georgia Public Policy Foundation is a driving force for market-based solutions to policy challenges. The work done by this outstanding organization is making a real impact on the future of Georgia. I personally consider the Foundation a primary source for policy ideas. All Georgians are better off because the Foundation is helping lead the critical policy debates in our state.

Senate Majority Leader Chip Rogers more quotes