Category: Education

Give Georgia’s Students Choices, Not Excuses

By Kyle Wingfield In almost a decade of writing about school choice, I’ve heard every excuse imaginable to oppose giving students and families educational options. I’ve heard critics say school choice is only for “the rich.” Not true – families of means already have options, thanks to their ability to pay private school tuition or move into a neighborhood with good public schools; school choice is about extending that liberty to those without means. I’ve heard critics say school choice hurts students who remain in public schools. In fact, as a 2016 review of the 33 empirical studies on the topic reported, “31 find that choice improves academic outcomes at public schools. One of the remaining studies finds that choice… View Article
Maureen Downey’s “Get Schooled” blog on AJC.com published, “Opinion: New study suggests vouchers may help Georgia public schools,” an op-ed by Kyle Wingfield, president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, on March 3, 2019. The op-ed is published below. Access the op-ed online at https://www.ajc.com/blog/get-schooled/opinion-new-study-suggests-vouchers-may-help-georgia-public-schools/hnoULPdg9z0XZ2Zgq8HGTN/?. Opinion: New study suggests vouchers may help Georgia public schools Kyle Wingfield, a former Atlanta Journal-Constitution opinion columnist, is president and CEO of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research institute. In this guest column, Wingfield says legislation in the Georgia House and Senate allowing tax dollars to go toward private school tuition may help public education’s bottom line. Senate Bill 173 passed out of committee Thursday in a 9-3… View Article
The Economics of Building a Voucher or Educational Savings Account Program in Georgia By Jeffrey Dorfman Executive Summary The economics of vouchers and educational savings accounts (ESAs, also known as educational scholarship accounts) are central to their political success because attracting sufficient political support for such educational choice programs depends at least partially on persuading opponents that these programs will not deprive schools of needed funding for the remaining students. The economic concept at the heart of this dispute is marginal cost. Marginal cost, in the education context, is the additional cost incurred from educating one more student (or the amount expenditures can be reduced if educating one fewer student). If vouchers or ESAs remove funding from a school’s… View Article
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

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