Public Education

Issue

How to responsibly fund & conduct a public education system that that prepares students to be independent and successful in their chosen careers. 

Position

We support a rigorous and relevant locally-run public education program that prepares students to be independent and successful in their chosen careers, in a fiscally responsible manner.  

Discussion

  1. Local control. In November, Georgians voted "NO" on the question:  "Shall the Constitution of Georgia be amended to allow the state to intervene in chronically failing schools in order to improve student performance?"
    "Voting "NO" on the measure prevented the state from converting locally controlled public schools, that the state determines to be "failing schools," to state controlled public charter schools.  The State Charter School Commission, an executive branch appointed board established in 2012, would have been the governing board.  State Charter Schools MUST comply with the Common Core standards and the state accountability system just as the traditional public schools must do.  Under the governor's "Opportunity School District" plan, every school district in Georgia is at risk of losing local control with elected representation oversight. We believe that this is moving in the opposite direction that most parents want for their schools. Currently the state and federal government have the total say in the academics and learning environment and we feel that restoring local control is a better way to bring about better education.  This executive overreach is contrary to our position (above) so we encouraged electors to vote NO.  Senate Bill 133 was the enabling legislation, review it here.
  2. State budget. Nothing we do is more important than responsibly and thoroughly overseeing how the state government spends Georgians’ hard-earned tax dollars, which is why the budget process will take the majority of our 40 legislative days to complete.Based on tax revenues over the past several months, we anticipate that the Governor’s FY 2017 budgetrevenue estimate will be an increase over $21.8 billion Fiscal Year 2016 budget. The majority of new revenues will go for expanded populations in K-12 education and Medicaid.
    GA State Representative Matt Ramsey commented on the Governor’s K-12 Education Reform Commission:“The Commission was appointed by Governor Deal to comprehensively review the funding and operation of K-12 public schools in Georgia,” said Ramsey. “In creating the commission, Gov. Deal commented that its mission was ‘to provide recommendations intended to improve our educational system, increase access to early learning programs, recruit and retain high-quality instructors and expand school options for Georgia’s families.’ My vision for K-12 education in Georgia is a system driven by student need that provides local school and district leaders with real control and flexibility.”“The commission’s recommendations include a major overhaul of the formula that funds education and a number of measures intended to provide more flexibility to local school districts in how dollars are spent. We must continue to make strides to improve the quality of the education available to Georgia’s children and I look forward to the debate this session.”Ramsey in 2015 chaired a study committee reviewing issues such as wagering on horse racing and licensing a limited number of casinos as a way to increase needed revenues for the HOPE Scholarship Program.“Over the course of the summer and fall we held several meetings and heard a great deal of testimony from proponents and opponents of these proposals. The HOPE Scholarship program is not what it used to be and no longer is a 100 percent scholarship as it was for many, many years,” Ramsey said. “It now only pays a portion of qualifying students’ tuition and the authors of these bills believe creating new streams of revenue for HOPE is critical to keeping the program the national model of success it has been for a quarter of a century.”

Common Core

Common Core (labeled the “Common Core Georgia Performance Standards” in Georgia) is a nationwide initiative to promote national K-12 achievement standards, materials, and tests- significantly reducing the ability of parents, all taxpayers, and local school boards to design & implement their children’s education.

The CCSS were developed by two trade associations- the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers (NGA & CCSSO).  The Obama Administration tucked $4.35b of “Race To The Top” grant money into the 2009 Stimulus Bill that is being used to entice states to adopt CCSS (“We’ll have to pass the bill to see what’s in it”).

The CCSS implemented in Georgia started with English language arts and math, but there are plans to add social studies and science curriculum.

Proponents of the Common Core claim that the initiative was state-led; that the states adopted the standards voluntarily; and that the standards are “rigorous” and will better prepare our children for college and careers. A common national curriculum better meets the needs of students who move across state & school district boundaries.
What's the Problem? As of Jan 15, 2013, Alaska, Texas, Nebraska, and Virginia have chosen not to adopt the CCSS, and Minnesota rejected the math CCSS.  Two states have introduced legislation to repeal CCSS: Alabama and Indiana, and Indiana voted in 2014 to withdraw from the program. The Administration has side-stepped state-level education offices that refuse to adopt CCSS by offering Race To the Top grants directly to local school districts. Why?- Upon examination, CCSS programs are insufficiently tested- there is no/insufficient study to demonstrate that it accomplishes the claimed academic excellence proponents claim. Are our children lab rats?- CCSS' "one size fits all" curriculum reduces state, local school board, and classroom flexibility to better meet the needs of advanced as well as slower learning students.- Concerns about students being channeled into educational & development paths based on early assessments, rather than being given a broader educational experience and discovering & pursuing new interests later in school.- Significantly increased CCSS testing requirements will add millions of dollars to already-strapped state budgets; Texas, which has refused to adopt CCSS, estimated these costs at $3,000,000,000; yes, that'sbillions!- Individual student data can be shared among government offices and businesses "for the purpose of improving education" without parental authorization. Note: in GA, through his executive order, Gov. Deal ordered "That no student data shall be collected for the purpose of the development of commercial "products or services."  - Elected local school boards and state Superintendents are accountable to the NGA and CCSSO, rather than voting parents. Those same two private entities have insulated themselves from liability and damages arising from CCSS through their strict licensing agreement.- Loss of local control: under CCSS' tightly controlled curriculum and associated texts & teaching materials, we believe that children's education has taken a back seat to the profit motive of big business such as Microsoft, Pearson Education, & McGraw Hill publishers.