Category: Issues

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 Few bills gave liberty-minded folks more heartburn during this past legislative session than the so-called distracted driving bill, which would ban most motorists from holding a mobile phone while cruising down Georgia’s roads. There were many reasons for this. First, it didn’t cover all distractions: Holding a hamburger or a mascara brush would still be OK under this legislation, even though either can take a driver’s eyes off the road and at least one hand off the steering wheel. Second, not all distractions created by mobile phones are created equal: The recent spike in accidents and fatalities came well after people started phoning a friend while driving, yet the bill would outlaw holding a phone to talk… View Article
By Doug Collins Georgians value justice. My father was a State Trooper for 31 years, and he helped me understand that an effective criminal justice system elevates human dignity by punishing wrongdoing, protecting victims and rehabilitating offenders. By taking this approach, our own state effected a 21 percent drop in violent crime between 2005 and 2016. State leaders, watching Georgia’s prison population more than double between 1990 and 2011, responded with meaningful changes to its justice system, including prison reform.   Some prisoners have records that scare us; they should remain safely behind bars. Others have made mistakes they can pay for and recover from. Prison reform is structured to help these individuals redeem themselves, and the lower crime rates… View Article
By Kyle Wingfield Lots of things die at the end of a legislative session: bills, constitutional amendments, one’s faith in humanity (just kidding about that last one – mostly). Some of what doesn’t survive is not to be regretted; some is. Rarely do lawmakers stand by as an effective entity fades into the sunset. But there was one such case this year. The Georgia Council on Criminal Justice Reform was created in 2013 – by a law that provided for its dissolution on June 30, 2018, unless legislators voted to keep it running. They did not. So, after five years of vetting and proposing ways to make the state’s criminal justice system work smarter, the council will close less than … View Article

Tax Season is Easier This Year

By Brandon Arnold and Benita M. Dodd Tax season is a traditionally dreadful time of year for Americans. Nobody likes having to account for how much the Internal Revenue Service is reaching into our pockets. But this year, Americans across the country and in Georgia can take a breath of relief, knowing the benefits they’ve already started to experience because of tax reform are only going to get better. The federal tax law cut rates at every level of the income ladder, and in January the tax withholding calculations were adjusted so Americans started seeing those tax cuts show up in their take-home pay. Paychecks are larger. Companies across the country have issued bonuses for their workers. People have more… View Article

Release the Health-Care Market

By Kyle Wingfield The contract dispute between Piedmont Healthcare and Blue Cross and Blue Shield appears to be over: The two parties this past week confirmed a “handshake deal” at the urging of Gov. Nathan Deal. Georgians who seek care via both companies – not just in Atlanta, but from Columbus to Athens, Blairsville to Elberton – were caught in the middle when the contract expired April 1. They can breathe a bit easier now, but this is no way to run a health-care market. Deal, who was in Congress when Democrats passed Obamacare, surely reminded both companies the only beneficiaries of these fights are those pushing the next government-centric step of single-payer health care. And this wasn’t even 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

Winners and Losers in Georgia’s 2017-18 Session

By Benita M. Dodd The second half of Georgia’s biennial legislative session that ended March 31 turned out to be surprisingly more intensive than expected. Election-year sessions are typically low-key and feel-good; everybody wants to leave ASAP to begin fund-raising, which is prohibited during the session. In summary, legislation moved on transportation, taxes, education and criminal justice reform. It sputtered on health care.  And, as expected, some feel-good but unnecessary bills got through. Undoubtedly, the biggest winner under the Gold Dome was education. With higher-than-expected state revenue estimates, Governor Nathan Deal ended the state shortfall in Georgia’s complicated QBE funding for public schools, long a sore point with advocates of public school spending. Legislation ensures Georgia’s 33,000 state public charter… View Article
The nation marked the 50th anniversary of the assassination of civil rights icon and Nobel Peace Prize winner Martin Luther King Jr.  on April 4, 1968. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution marked the anniversary with a week of commemorative editions and a series highlighting the changes in policy over the past half-century. In a three-day series beginning April 1, the newspaper asked, “a panel of academics and policy experts to talk about the state of race relations, social mobility and segregation 50 years since the death of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. They represent a cross-section of thought and expertise.” They are: Andra Gillespie, a political scientist and Director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute at Emory University. Her research focuses… View Article

It’s so often a lack of information that keeps us from getting involved. The Foundation is doing for the public what many could not do for themselves. Anytime that we’re given the truth, people can make good decisions.

Deen Day Smith, Chairman of the Board, Cecil B. Day Investment Company more quotes