In beseeching the Georgia House Education Committee to reject a bill that would undo the Common Core State Standards here, Lee County High School teacher Coni Grebel pleaded, “I have now tasted rigor. Please do not send me back to mediocrity.”
If the General Assembly adopts Senate Bill 167, it will not only send Grebel, a former Lee County Teacher of the Year, back to mediocrity, it will tether Georgia children to a second-rate education, devalue their high school degrees in the eyes of top colleges and affirm perceptions of this state as an academic wasteland.
Not only does the sweeping bill essentially eviscerate Common Core, it mandates that Georgia stand alone in deciding what its students ought to learn and not borrow from other high-achieving states that banded together to create better standards. And we could not test our students in any way that would tell us how they compare to their peers elsewhere, even though they’ll compete against them for college slots and
By Otha Thornton
As a resident, native Georgian and president of the National PTA, which represents more than 74 million children, I firmly believe it is critical that Georgia gets the Common Core decision right if we plan on being a state of excellence in the educational arena as the nation moves forward.
Several years ago, the National Governors Association looked at the lackluster performance of American schools compared to other nations. The governors, including former Gov. Sonny Perdue, determined that individual states must adopt higher standards in order to give children a level playing field in today’s fiercely competitive world.
The Common Core State Standards are internationally benchmarked to ensure that our children can compete with any child in the world. The standards raise the bar for Georgia’s children — so we can expect to see some struggles during the process.
One of my favorite quotes attributed to Dr. Benjamin Mays, former president of Morehouse College and
By Mike Krolak
Common Core is the latest in knee-jerk reactions to “fix” education.
This offshoot of No Child Left Behind should be outed as what it truly is, an end run around the U.S. Constitution. The current Georgia Senate Bill 167 is a valiant effort to have Georgia students evaluated by Georgia educators on Georgia-designed standards.
Common Core was developed by the nation’s governors who wanted to adopt national standards. There are several problems with this. One problem is what is important in Montana may not be important to students or educators here in Georgia.
As a social studies teacher, I want to ensure Georgia students know about Georgia history and not a skimmed-over U.S. history that leaves out Georgia.
Common Core also passed along more testing. With the current state of testing — with eighth grade missing up to 20 to 30 days of school due to some type of testing — this equates to a month or more taken out of learning to administer a test.
Given the model
Primary voting is crucial
By JoEllen Smith
Imagine competing in a doubles tennis match but the rules have changed. The winner is no longer chosen by points earned, but by a vote of only one participant. Sound preposterous? Well this is how our elected officials are often chosen. Approximately 25% of registered voters choose nearly all of our local elected officials.
You may doubt me because you’ve waited in line to vote in November. Well, the majority of candidates are actually chosen during the summer, when the Republican and Democratic parties hold their primary elections. These primaries are open to all voters and have multiple candidates on the ballot. Most districts in Georgia are heavily represented by only one political party or the other so, quite often, the opposition party doesn’t even have candidates running. The result is that many primary winners will face no opposition in November.
Smaller “down ticket” races are the most important ones affecting your life. Do
Moderated by Tom Sabulis
The Georgia House of Representatives has passed legislation that, technically, leaves the current ban on weapons on college campuses intact but makes it tough to enforce. HB 875 also legally introduces firearms into churches, mosques and temples. School districts could also empower civilian personnel to use firearms in k-12 schools. Today, a Fulton County leader opposes the bill and a college student supports it.
Commenting is open.
Gun bill a huge step back for Georgia
By John Eaves
Columbine, Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech: These are names we now associate with a horrifiying image — students fleeing schools as their peers are gunned down by disgruntled loners or, more frighteningly, by their own classmates.
Price Middle School and Ronald E. McNair Academy are institutions much closer to home where we recently experienced near misses: A Jan. 2013 shooting at Price wounded a 14-year-old boy; and last August, a gunman barricaded himself in McNair offices and
Moderated by Rick Badie
Jobs are scarce, but likely even scarcer for those formerly incarcerated. Employers often balk at such hires; prisoners generally lack skills to land jobs with decent pay. Today, a director for the Urban Institute looks at their re-entry to the workplace through the lens of Georgia and elsewhere. I write about a DeKalb County nonprofit that hopes to teach “hard-to-place” individuals the art of auto detailing.
Pathway to jobs can be tricky
By Nancy G. La Vigne
In 2013, more than 21,000 prisoners re-entered society from Georgia’s Department of Corrections. What can we do to ensure a smooth transition? How do we lower their odds of reoffending?
Jobs are a huge part of the answer. We know from research that former prisoners with jobs are less likely to go back to prison.
Many of these men and women are not strangers to the workforce. They held down jobs before they were incarcerated. They actively want and seek legal employment. It’s in everyone’s interest
Moderated by Tom Sabulis
So much of the transportation conversation in metro Atlanta these days frames a highways versus transit argument. Today, Beltline mastermind Ryan Gravel writes that transportation diversity — cars and trains — is what’s needed to reduce our vulnerability to winter storms, rush hour, accidents or worse, terrorism. In our second column, an IBM executive says the cars-trains argument soon could be irrelevant, as technology allows us to create smarter vehicles such as driverless cars that act more like trains.
Commenting is open.
A need for more choices
By Ryan Gravel
On Sunday, I braved the mobs of smiling people on the Atlanta Beltline by bike to pick up some groceries with my kids. Our short sleeves at sunset made the region’s two-inch snow debacle back in January seem a distant memory. But it’s important to understand what went wrong.
At first we blamed meteorologists, as if they were also accountable for our response to their predictions. Later, we
A smattering of bills now before the Georgia General Assembly, if passed into law as now written, would cast a heavy, dark cloak over government processes that, with rare exception, should be open to public examination.
Such a drawing of blinds around the people’s business should not occur this year – or ever. It’s now up to right-thinking Georgians to keep that from happening. Citizens who value freedom and intuitively recognize the unacceptable downside of government routinely conducting too much business outside of public scrutiny should make their voices heard — before inappropriate measures move any closer to fruition.
Americans are taught — or should be — to appreciate the concept of transparent governance. This is not a dreamy-eyed ideal. It is, and should remain, a primary pillar of our free society.
It’s not an easy principle to achieve. Safeguarding competing interests is tough work. As in finding an appropriate, workable equilibrium between, say, an individual’s
Building strong communities
By Shirley Franklin
I remember when East Lake Meadows was one of Atlanta’s most violent neighborhoods. Today, high-quality, mixed-income housing has replaced decrepit apartments in East Lake. Crime is down and employment, income, school attendance and student achievement are up. It’s a flourishing community where people of all ages and different backgrounds choose to live.
The benefits of living in a safe neighborhood with good housing and outstanding schools come from a holistic approach to community revitalization. Why holistic? A community’s wellness results from the quality of education, recreational facilities, employment opportunities and health care of its residents.
That’s what happened in East Lake. Tom Cousins, an Atlanta-based developer and philanthropist, spearheaded an initiative to turn the neighborhood around, combining mixed-income housing, a cradle-to-college education pipeline and community services. Purpose Built Communities was
Moderated by Tom Sabulis
Top leaders in the Georgia Assembly are behind a bill to strip Gov. Nathan Deal of the power to expand Medicaid, as called for by the Affordable Care Act, and put that decision-making in the hands of the Legislature. Some Democrats are calling that political cover for the governor during this year’s election campaign. Today, we hear from Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton, who is sponsoring House Bill 990, and Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta, chairwoman of the Senate Democratic Caucus.
Commenting is open.
Give legislators Medicaid say
By Jan Jones
Georgians can be proud of their generosity toward the vulnerable and needy of our state. Individuals, churches, non-profits and governments dig deep to give relief to the less fortunate.
In fact, state taxpayers provide $3 billion annually in health care services through Medicaid to one in six Georgians. From covering 60 percent of the births in Georgia, to serving as de facto long-term care insurance for many, to providing