Deal outlines big changes ahead for Georgia’s public schools

AJC Photo / Kent D. Johnson

AJC Photo / Kent D. Johnson

The first week of the legislative session continued as usual today with Gov. Nathan Deal’s appraisal of the State of the State. As expected, Deal touched on successes and further plans for the criminal-justice reforms he has championed since taking office. He also made the case for more transportation funding — generally, though not for specific proposals to raise and/or free up the money — by noting the sharp reduction in the purchasing power of the state’s motor fuel tax over the years.

But he focused much of his time on education. A few highlights:

  • An Education Reform Commission, explicitly modeled after his successful task force for criminal-justice reform, will examine expanding early learning programs, increasing the quality of classroom teachers and “expanding school options for Georgia’s families.”
  • Part of the commission will zero in on the state’s QBE formula, which determines how state education dollars are distributed to local districts. Likening the 1980s-era formula to dated look of jelly shoes and obsolescence of Commodore 64s, Deal called for funding instead to be “driven by student need that provides local schools and district leaders with real control and flexibility.” That’s a reference to QBE’s focus on programs, which doesn’t necessarily match up with student needs and is subject to being gamed by the districts. The idea is to have a new funding regime in place for the 2016-17 school year.
  • Deal didn’t refer to his Democratic challenger in last year’s election, Jason Carter, but he did note, “This year’s budget coupled with my proposal for next year’s budget represents an infusion of over one billion additional dollars for K-12 education.” That’s the exact annual dollar figure Carter, on the campaign trail, repeatedly said Georgia’s schools had been shorted.
  • Deal also made his pitch for the Opportunity School District constitutional amendment I wrote about recently. He argued for it in several ways, with this conclusion:

“Liberals cannot defend leaving a child trapped in a failing school that sentences them to a life in poverty. Conservatives like me cannot argue that each child in Georgia already has the same opportunity to succeed and compete on his or her own merits. We have a moral duty to help these children who cannot help themselves. The sea is great and the boat is small, but the boat must not have first- and second-class seating.”

(That last bit about the boat was one of many references in the speech to a “fisherman’s prayer,” a copy of which Deal said had sat on President Kennedy’s desk: “Oh, God, Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small.”)

Reader Comments 0

16 comments
fatleo
fatleo

I smell a tax increase somewhere ... there is no way to buy everything Deal wants without more money. So the question is - When Did Deal embrace liberalism which in this case is math that actually makes sense ?

EdUktr
EdUktr

A half century of failure to improve test scores would have long since brought about innovation and change in a free marketplace. Instead, we get unending excuses.

Legislators: Give parents tuition vouchers and empower them to find real solutions!

ODDOWL
ODDOWL

When a Republican mention reform of anything, citizens of Georgia should grab their wives, their children, their wallet and head for the hills because you're in danger...

straker
straker

"expanding school options for Georgia families"


These options will include teaching creationism, the absolute truth of the New Testament, a 6,000 year old Earth and labeling science and evolution as tools of the Devil. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

God help us.  Can't manage an inch of snow, but suddenly knows JUST HOW to provide education to failing students (it isn't the school that fails, it is the students, for various reasons.)  God help us.

332-206
332-206

-Education reform commission

-Criminal justice reform (no 1 strike?)

-$1B added to education funding

-More taxes to fund transportation needs

-"Conservatives like me cannot argue that each child in Georgia already has the same opportunity to succeed and compete on his or her own merits."


Hopefully, Democrats won't charge a finder's fee for these policy positions...



LogicalDude
LogicalDude

I like the idea of a task force.  It helped in the criminal justice area, so I would expect a similar result in education.  


Alas, I mostly expect something like: 

1) pay teachers more and you will get better quality teachers

2) Streamline oversight and standardized testing to be less of a hindrance and more of a measuring stick (with less "teach to the standardized test" type material)

3) More classroom staff and less administrative staff


RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Sounds good, but the problem is once again, how is all this being paid for. 

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@RafeHollister Deal will make his budget presentation Thursday (of this week, I think ... 99% sure) and we will get more details then. Generally, though, the increase in regular funding this year should come from existing revenues, which have grown with the economy, and the OSD schools would be funded from existing sources. The other ideas, and thus their funding, are still TBD.

IReportYouWhine#1
IReportYouWhine#1

He also made the case for more transportation funding — generally, though not for specific proposals to raise and/or free up the money — by noting the sharp reduction in the purchasing power of the state’s motor fuel tax over the years.


The one penny that gets diverted into the general fund, send it back to transportation. Cut the state budget to make up the shortfall or find a different revenue stream. This problem is self inflicted.


Subsidies for electric cars and green energy would be the perfect place to cut.

MANGLER
MANGLER

Then what are the tax credit scholarships going towards?  I thought those were for private charter schools.  Are those only for private parochial schools?

(the screen format is weird I can't get over to the "reply" button)

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MANGLER Charter schools are public schools, full stop. They have absolutely nothing to do with tax credit scholarships, which are for private schools, some of which are parochial and some of which aren't.

MANGLER
MANGLER

If the students from the poorest families don't get full scholarships and transportation to the charter schools, then they won't be able to attend them.  Is that being addressed?  Wealthier families with multiple cars will be able to take advantage of charter scholarship choice.  But the poorest families that are currently "stuck at a dead end school" will continue to be.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@MANGLER Charter schools, being public schools, don't charge tuition. Hence, no need for "scholarships," full or otherwise.

Transportation can be an issue. Many charter schools (including the one my son attends) reserve a small portion of their funding to provide transportation for those families that need it.