Education reform commission kicks off with ambitious goals, aggressive deadlines

AJC Photo / Kent D. Johnson

 

AJC Photo / Kent D. Johnson

AJC Photo / Kent D. Johnson

The commission appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to “reshape our state’s education system” began its work Thursday with a set of ambitious goals touching every aspect of k-12 learning. Three dozen commission members, ranging from teachers, principals and administrators to legislators, agency heads and even a newspaper columnist (not yours truly), will split into five sub-committees with specific focuses:

  • funding (headed by commission chairman and former UGA president Charles Knapp);
  • teacher recruitment, retention and compensation (led by Appling County teacher Pam Williams);
  • the “move on when ready” approach to student advancement (chaired by Matt Arthur, deputy commissioner of the Technical College System);
  • early childhood education (led by Amy Jacobs, commissioner of the Department of Early Care and Learning); and
  • educational options and school choice (headed by Nels Peterson, vice chancellor for legal affairs at the University System of Georgia).

“Your responsibility is to think beyond the confines of the current system,” Deal told the group. He asked for a new funding model, to replace the 30-year-old Quality Basic Education formula, “that is based on student need and where the funding truly follows the child” while affording flexibility to local school districts. Deal gave two of the sub-committees, for funding and early childhood education, an aggressive deadline for completing their work: Aug. 1, so that their recommendations can be incorporated into the fiscal 2017 budget he presents to legislators next January.

For teacher recruitment and retention, Deal called for ways to “restore the public respect the teaching profession deserves” as well as financial “incentives and opportunities for career advancement that don’t cause our best teachers to leave the classroom.” Doing so, he argued, “will go a long way toward improving the quality of education.”

“Move on when ready,” already the subject of a Senate bill this year, is the notion that rigid starting and ending points for grade-level advancement are a hindrance to fast and slower learners alike. “It is common knowledge … all students do not learn in the same way or on the same schedule,” Deal said, suggesting Georgia would be the first state in the country to attempt such a change on such a large scale.

On school choice, Deal charged commission members with finding ways to expand public school choice, potentially including charter schools, new tax credits, Education Savings Accounts and the state’s tax credit scholarship. Giving students in failing schools an alternative was, he said, “perhaps closest to my heart.”

Knapp noted that, adjusted for inflation, the average weekly earnings for Americans have not improved since 1979. “We really can’t be satisfied with that,” he said, arguing that “shaking the box” on education was key to helping Georgians compete in a global economy.

Robert Avossa, superintendent of Fulton County schools, suggested the education community is long on “energy around wanting to change,” but short on “courage” to do so. “Technology’s allowing us to think very differently about how learning occurs, where it occurs, and how kids move through the system at different rates,” he said. His counterpart from Hall County schools, Will Schofield, argued k-12 education for the past 75 years has been designed to feed graduates into liberal-arts colleges, and that “the world of work” was saying that was no longer the right goal. “We will not be well-served,” he said, “if the solution is to throw more money at the same ways we’ve been doing things the last 75 years.”

The commission’s next meeting, in March, is not yet scheduled.

Reader Comments 0

20 comments
Wascatlady
Wascatlady

THREE DOZEN members.  There is your first FAIL!

straker
straker

Finn - "that we promised you"


Well, Republican politicians running for election and re-election to Congress promised to repeal Obamacare.


They haven't.


Think that promise will be kept?


If it isn't, think their loyal voters will even notice?

notagain
notagain

sounds more like our congress,speaker and the president,never agreeing.

JackClemens
JackClemens

I'm eager to see what they come up with, and if any of it is adopted.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

"financial “incentives and opportunities for career advancement that don’t cause our best teachers to leave the classroom."


Like making promises about pensions and retirement and then, 10 years down the road, stripping those promises from recipients? "Oh sorry, we can't afford to pay you that money that we PROMISED you. "

Don't Tread
Don't Tread

The "where the funding truly follows the child" statement is the best statement that ever came out of a politician.  Hopefully we're now moving towards "change for the better" instead of just "hope and change".


"Moving on when ready" should just be common sense.  (They did half of this back in the day, you know - when one didn't learn the material they needed to learn for that grade level, and didn't make it up in summer school, they were held back.  What a notion.)  And if a kid learns something faster than the other kids, he should be promoted faster.

DeborahinAthens
DeborahinAthens

The "move on when ready" is a good idea. My last year of HS was spent editing the yearbook and taking the few piddly courses I needed to graduate. This course could have easily been taken in the lower grades.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

 “shaking the box” on education

Setting students and families free? Thinking outside the box?

I like it!!!

LilBarryBailout
LilBarryBailout

Funding that follows the child?

That's crazy talk.

Funding isn't for children--it's for teachers and administrators.

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

This is so obama like. Commissions that never agree on anything?

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

@Kyle_Wingfield @IReportYouWhine President Obama created the bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to address our nation's fiscal challenges. The Commission is charged with identifying policies to improve the fiscal situation in the medium term and to achieve fiscal sustainability over the long run.


Do you think this was a success? All these guys did was fight with eachother and then had their recommendations ignored.


http://www.fiscalcommission.gov/

IReportYouWhine
IReportYouWhine

@Kyle_Wingfield @IReportYouWhine He also had this big show, two weeks after taking office in 09, saying that he had identified  all of America's problems, had appointed a commission for each one of them and instructed these commissions to meet until they solved the problems, as if it were that simple. For all we know, they're still locked in the committee chambers.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@IReportYouWhine "Commissions that never agree on anything?"

What are you talking about? They met today for the first time.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@IReportYouWhine And my point was: Why do you assume this commission's results will be similar? His criminal-justice reform commission's work has been good, and acted upon.

MHSmith
MHSmith

Deal called for ways to “restore the public respect the teaching profession deserves. 

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


The teachers in public schools don't need Deal's help. The public schools ....  teachers, administrators, superintendents etc. should know there is only "ONE WAY" - Did you get that Gubna Nathan... only "ONE WAY" - to gain R_E_S_P_E_C_T! 

.

.

YOU MUST EARN IT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 



No person, no profession, no government, no politician "deserves".... R_E_S_P_E_C_T!  

MaryElizabethSings
MaryElizabethSings

"Deal called for ways to “restore the public respect the teaching profession deserves. . .”

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Much, much needed.  Good for Governor Deal regarding stating that goal as one which is needed in Georgia.