Republican gubernatorial hopeful Nathan Deal on Tuesday said teachers have told him they want more freedom in the classroom, and the former congressman has responded with an education plan he said would do just that.
Deal unveiled an education platform that is designed to address those concerns. He said teachers have told him, “don’t make us have to teach to a test.”
Surrounded by more than two dozen current state lawmakers and a number of legislative candidates at the Capitol, Deal said he would focus on making classroom teachers partners in the state’s education system, would devise incentives to attract and retrain teachers in key disciplines and would promote the expansion of charter schools.
“I have listened to Georgians and believe this plan has the right elements to bring needed changes to public education in Georgia,” he said.
One part of the plan is called “move on when ready,” which would allow a teacher to determine if a student is ready to move up a grade during the school year. For example, if a third grade teachers decides a student is prepared, that student could take the state’s standardized test and move on to the fourth grade.
“We will no longer tie the hands of students and teachers by imposing arbitrary ’seat time’ requirements,” Deal said.
Deal’s campaign said the details of the plan, including what happens if the student takes the test early but fails, would be decided later.
Deal, who faces Democrat Roy Barnes and Libertarian John Monds in November, also said he would emphasize education in science, technology, engineering and math. He would offer incentives to college students to earn teaching certificates in those areas and to serve in Georgia schools. Those incentives would include forgiving student loans.
Part of that emphasis on science and math would extend to the creation of charter high schools that focus on those key subjects, he said.
Read Deal’s entire plan at his website.
He said Tuesday he believes he can pay for his proposals with $19 million.
Barnes, too, has released an education plan that focuses on increasing teacher pay, reducing class sizes and banning teacher furloughs.
Barnes’ campaign said Deal’s plan is too little, too late.
“Unfortunately, Rep. Deal’s solutions would open the door to school vouchers and starve our public education system that is currently experiencing teacher furloughs, larger class sizes and fewer school days,” Barnes spokeswoman Anna Ruth Williams said. “From day one, Roy’s priority has been education – that’s why over the past year he’s visited over 90 counties, listening to Georgia’s educators and developing a comprehensive plan to make education work in Georgia again.”
Monds, meanwhile, wants to encourage more charter schools and give parents a $4,000 tax credit to send their children to private schools.