Just came back from the House Education Committee meeting where one of the money saving suggestions was to eliminate the state Department of Education. It was suggested that such a move could save the state $95 million, minus the federal funds that go to the agency.
The suggestion was made in jest, although it was mentioned twice. (I wished someone would have asked what the savings would be if we eliminated the entire Legislature.)
Education meetings are great fun because the committee chair, Gwinnett Republican Brooks Coleman, and vice-chairman, Dunwoody GOP Rep. Fran Millar, are both plain-speaking and prone to passionate outbursts. (By the way, kudos to Coleman for giving audience members time to speak. His fellow committee chairs who adjourn meetings without hearing from citizens who traveled from Savannah or Dalton ought to follow his example.)
Two bills were discussed, the governor’s school board reform bill, which was proposed last session when we only had one school system losing its accreditation, Clayton County. The bill would give the state some entry into school systems that are mismanaged to the point of losing accreditation, which jeopardizes the ability of students to win scholarships and be accepted into top colleges. The governor argues that he needs a legal point of intervention so he can help kids in poorly run systems and can replace delusional and dangerous school boards.
Speaking of dangerous, we have a second school district about to lose accreditation, Warren County. To understand just how rare and how bad this is, when Clayton lost accreditation last year, it was first system in the nation to do so in nearly 40 years.
When Warren loses its accreditation, Georgia will now have the second system in the country to lose accreditation in 40 years. At the House meeting, a Warren school board member stood up to say that the board is being held hostage by a few members who are intent on bucking the reform-minded superintendent and who want to return Warren to how it was 10 years ago, failing. (The accreditation would be yanked in July as not to stand in the way of current high school seniors getting into college and qualifying for scholarships.)
Most of the debate was around a bill that would free systems up from state regulations in response to the budget crisis. The point of debate is whether the state should allow class size to climb. And, if so, how high should it climb and for how long?
The comments were good, but never addressed in-depth the problem of whether allowing higher class size undermines the state’s ambitious plan for improved student achievement.
Coleman will resume the debate in two weeks.
I am adding this release that I received today about Warren:
The AdvancED Accreditation Commission voted to drop the accreditation of the Warren County School District, effective July 30, 2010, if nine requirements outlined in a Special Review Team Report are not met. The 33-member Commission, comprised of educators and public representatives from across the nation, took this action after reviewing the findings made by the Special Review Team that conducted an on-site review of the district on November 17-18, 2009.
AdvancED is the parent organization for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). The AdvancED Accreditation Commission is responsible for granting accreditation status to all schools and districts in the SACS CASI region. The Commission makes accreditation decisions based on thorough review of Quality Assurance Review Team and Special Review Team reports as well as other documentation.
“The Accreditation Commission has affirmed the findings and recommendations contained in the Special Review Team report that the Warren County School District is not meeting the standards for accreditation,” said Dr. Mark Elgart, President and CEO.
The Warren County School District may retain its accreditation by meeting the requirements outlined in the report by July 30, 2010. The district must request and host a follow-up visit prior to that date and show evidence and supporting documentation that they have met the requirements.