State funding pays for 147 days of school. Districts are on their own for the remaining 33.

It is clear the state school Superintendent Kathy Cox is leaving her post in a few weeks.  (She announced last week that she is resigning to head a think tank in D.C. and is no longer seeing election to a third term running Georgia’s schools.) Her criticisms of state cuts to education are growing more forthright, including a statement this week that the Legislature only approved enough funding next year to cover 147 days of the mandated 180-day school year.

Outgoing schools Superintendent Kathy Cox says state is shortchanging school districts by 33 days.

Outgoing schools Superintendent Kathy Cox says state is shortchanging school districts by 33 days.

That means the local communities are paying the full freight for the 33 remaining days, which seems — at least to me — a failure by the state of Georgia to live up to its constitutional obligation to fund education. (Cox did the basic math of dividing the number of schools days by the allotted state funding, which has been dramatically and possibly fatally cut. And you folks don’t think the new math curriculum works. )

The rural lawsuit was scuttled on a technicality but I think Cox’s statement  is damning evidence of the state’s dereliction of duty.

Speaking of Cox, word is that the business community is not thrilled with the field of candidates to replace her as school superintendent and was thinking about finding and funding an independent candidate for the post. There is still no word on her replacement; Gov. Sonny Perdue is apparently keeping this deliberation close to the vest, although I am not sure why.

Whoever fills out the remaining six months of Cox’s term will only be a caretaker. There are plenty of strong administrators in the deputy ranks of the DOE. I have already suggested the very capable and proven Martha Reichrath, deputy state superintendent for standards, instruction, and assessment.

I would also recommend Garry McGiboney, associate superintendent, policy, external affairs, and charter schools.

What do you think?


113 comments Add your comment

ChristieS.

May 25th, 2010
1:33 pm

Would that she had opened her mouth earlier to denounce bad policies coming from the Legislature. They might have done some good back then. Now? Not so much.

ChristieS.

May 25th, 2010
1:47 pm

What is it about the current slate of candidates that has the “business community” so up in arms? Could it be that some of them aren’t toeing the “business as usual, all for business” line? Or am I mistaken in that opinion?

Teaching in FL is worse

May 25th, 2010
1:49 pm

Christie S.: Agreed. If she truly was for the students, she would have put them ahead of her own ambitions. I wonder at what point she stopped being a teacher? (I mean that figuratively, of course.)

Clarence

May 25th, 2010
1:49 pm

I’m hoping for Kelly Henson.

Maureen Downey

May 25th, 2010
1:52 pm

@Clarence, Another great choice, but I would think that Kelly Henson has way too much going on at the PSC.
Maureen

d

May 25th, 2010
2:11 pm

Enter your comments here

Booklover

May 25th, 2010
2:12 pm

Wow. I’m just astounded. How are some of these small, rural counties going to fund 33 days of classes on their own?

Most likely, they won’t be able to. Significantly less class time means less learning time and, let’s be real, less test prep time. So these same rural counties are going to cut short the school year, and how will the students do on the CRCT, EOCT, GHSGT? How will those districts fare on AYP?

I wonder if many more districts are going to move to 4-day weeks?

john konop

May 25th, 2010
2:34 pm

If Kathy Cox was so concerned with the budget why did she grow her massive staff by 25% in the middle of a budget crisis?

Elizabeth

May 25th, 2010
2:35 pm

Never mind the candidates. Worry about that later. The state says we must be in schol 175 days ( cut from 180), yet they are only paying for 145. This means another budget shortfall– more furlough days, more jobs lost, more cuts that will hurt kids, and, possibly, larger classes. How do they expect systems to pick up any More cuts and remain open? This is disaster.

ChristieS.

May 25th, 2010
2:39 pm

Booklover, I agree. I’m from a small, rural county that only has one school for each level, four schools in total. I have no idea how we’re going to pay for a month of classes. I’ll definitely be at the last school board meeting in June to see how they deal with this mess.

chiefdawg

May 25th, 2010
2:50 pm

Furlough teachers on days when students will be in school. When the parents have to start scrambling for daycare,they will wake up and demand that the legislature do something about the cuts.

catlady

May 25th, 2010
2:50 pm

“”Accountability is here to stay, which is a good thing,” said State School Superintendent Kathy Cox.”
from release by Matt Cardoza.

Accountability for TEACHERS, that is. Not for the state BOE. Not for the state superintendent. Not for the governor and legislature. Not for students and parents. It is clear.

Booklover

May 25th, 2010
2:52 pm

Catlady, I agree. The legislature needs to be held accountable for upholding the state constitution.

Just A Teacher

May 25th, 2010
2:53 pm

This does sound like a direct violation of the Georgia constitution. One of the primary obligations of the state is to educate its citizens.

“The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia. Public education for the citizens prior to the college or postsecondary level shall be free and shall be provided for by taxation.” (Georgia Constitution, Article VIII)

JJ

May 25th, 2010
2:56 pm

I bet Cobb would love to have back the $160mm they have sent to the “rural” counties! When and if rural conties ever appraise land and property values to the same level as urban counties they will have plenty of money, and the Atlanta region could stop sending hundreds of millions in subsidies to them. But with divided politics, Atlanta versus the rest of the state, that will never happen.
Thank God my kids are out of GA schools and my condolences to the rest of you.

Kitty

May 25th, 2010
2:59 pm

Once again, start by cutting fat from the top!!!! Save the children!

chris

May 25th, 2010
3:02 pm

We don’t need no education. That’s for them high affluent states.

chris

May 25th, 2010
3:04 pm

Nah, we could save lots of money if just didn’t pay for any education. Education is for them affluent yankees states anyways.

Hank Rearden

May 25th, 2010
3:05 pm

That’s what happens when you stuff the GA legislative halls with Bush Republicans.

GOP Report Card

Economy – F
Foreign Policy – F
Transportation – F
Schools – F

On the bright side, Sonny will make a mint off that $100 million road we’re building him.

Bama Bill

May 25th, 2010
3:05 pm

All seven plus years of Cox and Perdue have been disasters for the students of Georgia – they have simply shortchanged and now overloaded all of our classrooms in public education. Where is the outrage and who has the backbone to address and clean up the Cox-Perdue mess ?

Booklover

May 25th, 2010
3:09 pm

Some democrat much like Obama… and much like Obama, s/he will get blamed for idiot policies of the previous administration.

One person I won’t vote for is Roy Barnes. His pandering-to-teachers commercials make me nauseous. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

almh

May 25th, 2010
3:14 pm

JJ is right. DeKalb’s millage rate is high and many of our schools are Title 1.
Isn’t Gwinnett listed as “rural”?

Writer Gal

May 25th, 2010
3:14 pm

THINK TANK?? Who in the world would hire this disaster? I ask, THINK TANK??? What Think Tank? Is it connected with her desire to be smarter than a fifth grader???? The Great Georgia Educational Crisis can be placed at her feet and Sonny Perdue’s! What a joke is this ding a ling.

HS tchr

May 25th, 2010
3:16 pm

JJ- the whole QBE funding formula was skewed from the start which led to underfunding rural districts and taking money back from metro districts. Somehow the balancing that was supposed to happen just never did. In the economic heyday of the 90’s it worked pretty well. Unfortunately, rural land is not worth what metro land is, and the state has set millage limits. In my rural county, we have upped the millage rate as much as possible, and it won’t take care of the shortfall- won’t even come close. A great many land owners can’t pay taxes, and nobody wants to buy in this real estate market. SPLOST won’t help- the voters are all broke and will never approve one, even if it could generate the money in the slow economy. The rural counties have had to live on a peasant’s share since QBE funding was enacted, and we’re only worse off now. But we’re dealing with it- when you’re already poor, all you get is a little poorer.

TnGelding

May 25th, 2010
3:19 pm

Doesn’t most of the state budget go for education? We’ve been spending too much for decades. We simply can’t afford it any more, and probably never could. Why in the 21st century are we continuing to throw money after inferior education when we can bring the best teachers in the world into our homes with proven curriculums? We spend $5 million just to bus the students to school in this “poor” county. By getting the buses off the street it would also improve transportation and the environment. If we must continue the current system then parents are going to have to pick up more of the tab. We had to buy bus tickets in the ’50s in Oak Ridge, TN.

td

May 25th, 2010
3:19 pm

Maureen, What does the “business community” not like about the candidates and what business community? I have hear both Republicans and the Libertarian candidate. They are all career educators and want to give more control to the local boards. I want to know what are their issues, unless it is that they do not want a educator to run the DOE?

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Neil Sullivan, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: State funding pays for 147 days of school. Districts are on their own for the remaining 33. http://bit.ly/c6WV5p [...]

Jason

May 25th, 2010
3:25 pm

JJ, metro Atlanta has a high enough population now to out vote the rest of the state but the problem is that instead of working together, every government in the metro is out to make itself look better by tearing down the next city or county over.

It’s not just black vs white or suburb versus city, it’s Duluth vs Gwinnett, Johns Creek vs Alpharetta vs Sandy Springs vs Fulton County, West Cobb vs East Cobb, etc.

The pols from the rural areas just have to stir the pot up a little bit and get a huge return on their investment. The sad thing is that 90% of the mud being slung at each other is totally false. But until the residents of metro Atlanta wake up and see the real enemy isn’t “those people” ten miles down the road but rather the ingrates in the rest of the state, they’ll continue to live off of what they extract from the metro while badmouthing us in the process.

Maureen Downey

May 25th, 2010
3:26 pm

@TD. My guess is the lack of political history and management experience. For the most part, the candidates are unknown commodities. And some of them, including GOP candidates, are leery of Race to the Top, which both the governor and the business community want.
Maureen

Jefferson Jackson

May 25th, 2010
3:27 pm

I’ve known Kelly Henson since 1971, and if he isn’s chosen (now or as a candidate), Georgia loses.

The Cynical White Boy

May 25th, 2010
3:31 pm

Sure is funny to observe how King Roy is (figuratively) yelling at the city gates while he is scraping himself with broken pottery and pouring ashes on his head to show his NEW FRIENDS the teachers just how devoutly he is mourning over their current fate.

Lord God, the poor teachers (and their 6-figure salaried “central office staffs”) never had such a devoted and beloved and loyal friend like King Roy! Ha!

Will the teachers forgive and forget? We’ll see.

Camille

May 25th, 2010
3:32 pm

In my son’s Gwinnett County middle school, they started collecting textbooks shortly after taking the CRCT. Since then, they’ve just been reviewing material that was taught over the year. Well, not in all classes, but in most of them, especially math. Since they haven’t really done anything for the last month anyway, they could just get rid of that last month or so of school. Waste of time for the teachers and kids. Of course, this wouldn’t really benefit the teachers because they’d lose a month of pay. But, it is something to be looked at.

Dose of Reality

May 25th, 2010
3:33 pm

As long as there are “career educators” in positions of control, the education system will continue to fail. Educators have no concept of what it takes to effectively run a business, as evidenced by Cathy Cox and the other “career educators” that have preceeded her in the position of State Superintendent. Until the educational system is privatized and placed on a merit-based pay system, the sucking sound you hear coming from the Georgia Public School System will only get louder.

RBN

May 25th, 2010
3:36 pm

It is a shame that Kathy only got a voice after she got her Golden Parachute. Sonny and the legislature have decimated the progress made in the 1990’s, while she remained publically mute. Perhaps now the lawsuit will be brought by parents. There are three quality candidates on the Democratic ticket. Each of whom has qualities that the state needs, first and foremost the ability to stand up for children. Beth Faroki is an experienced educator on many levels; Brian Westlake is a lawyer, a former marine, a classroom teacher, and a teacher advocate; Joe Martin, while not an educator as such, is a public servant, school board memebr during the most trying times in APS history, and a tireless advocate for school funding.

The business community railed against inactivity on transportation for 3 years to no avail and has enabled the Republican legislature to give them inordinate tax breaks that resulted in this budget
crisis.

It is time for parents, students, teachers, and the business community to work together for a more certain future for the 1.75 million students in Georgia’s public schools.

Dose of Reality

May 25th, 2010
3:39 pm

RBN- Parents are part of the problem. They’ve taken too much control in the schools, by complaining about rigorous lessons and strict discipline. As a result, school systems have capitulated by dumbing down the curriculum and making it nearly impossible to effectively discipline students.

Y oh Y

May 25th, 2010
3:40 pm

HS teacher.

If you took the state funding per student and considered system funding versus average student, you would find that out of approximately 180 systems, only 37 receive less than average funding including all the metros over the past 10 years. In Fayette, we have received $50 Million less than the state average per student. Our millage is maxed and we are cutting the best system in the state becaue “our money is going rural”.

Maybe we should consider whether 180 systems is the way to go. Sometimes companies merge to survive. May not cloase as many schools as eliminate administrations.

QBE needs to be fixed. While I agree the “richer metros” should help, State numbers suggest that while Fayette’s shortfall versus average state funding is $50 Million, Cobbs exceeds $500 Million over 10 years.

But the number one thing that must change… the state must fully fund QBE as required by law.

chris

May 25th, 2010
3:41 pm

I say get rid of that government sponsored hogwash. Education. Why we need it. Let the kids go to public library. That could say money. I know Mr. Perdue is with me on this.

Booklover

May 25th, 2010
3:42 pm

@ “Dose of Reality”

You want a dose of reality? Go teach at a public school, and not a nice cushy Cobb County one, either (no offense to Cobb Co).

Education is not a business! Education cannot be run like a business. Teachers, Kathy Cox, Sonny Perdue himself all have very little control over the “raw product” that enters our schools.

http://www.jamievollmer.com/blue_story.html

Read this, and then I invite you to come teach FOR A MONTH at my high school, although mine is rather nice. Really you need to start where most of us, in an urban school, breaking up fights everyday.

Northview (Ex)Teacher

May 25th, 2010
3:42 pm

Dose of Reality,

It is a school system; it is not a business. Many of our problems have arisen from the idea that a school system can be run like a business.

If you voted for Bush, let me repeat it real slow so that even a republican can understand: “It-is-not-a-business.-It-is-a-school-system.”

Eight years of republicans and the entire state is in free fall.

Lisa B.

May 25th, 2010
3:47 pm

Does this mean that the budget cuts equal the cost of 33 days of school, or are more cuts coming on top of what we’ve already been told about?

FCM

May 25th, 2010
3:50 pm

Seriously looking at Kira Willis. That woman makes sense and is not already a part of the BS Politico we have now.

EducationCEO

May 25th, 2010
3:50 pm

Yes s’s leaving and should have thought about the students. But on the bright side, Perdue’s replacement will only be in charge for 6 months. Let McGiboney stay in charter schools because that office has A LOT of work to do. Are there no capable minority employees at the DOE who have been there longer than him anyway? I am certain there are..I have seen many people make moves within, as well as laterally. We need someone with a real perspective on changing demographics and needs of students and teachers, e.g., someone with actual classroom experience and knowledge. none of the people presented have that. Let Kelly stay where she is as well, she needs to finish what she started with the testing irregularities. Maybe after she finishes, the PSC can actually start taking teacher complaints about administrator abuses seriously. But what do I know? I haven’t been in the failing school systems for 20 years only to move into an office downtown.

Dose of Reality

May 25th, 2010
3:52 pm

FYI, I did teach, and not in a “cushy” school district. The issue with fights is a result of the parents having too much control and virtually eliminating the concept of “discipline” in public schools. Secondly, it is clear that educators cannot effectively build and manage a budget. It doesn’t take a genius to see that the schools are failing due to being poorly managed at the state and municipality levels. Edcuators should concern themselves with teaching, and not with tasks that are above their heads, like running the business- leave that side of the equation to experienced business professionals.

Hank Rearden

May 25th, 2010
3:52 pm

You fools – what do you think the GOP is talking about when they advocate for ’small government?’

This is it, you morons. You voted for it and now you got it.

Shut-up and eat it. Next time maybe pay better attention to the menu.

RIF

May 25th, 2010
3:53 pm

Why not just let one of the assistant to fill whatever Kathy Cox does for the next 7 months and same that part of the salary for the superintendent?

I’m not sure why business group has to have any say in this selection? Shouldn’t teachers/educators be the first one to consider?

Dose of Reality

May 25th, 2010
3:55 pm

Northview- It is a business. There is a service being delivered, significant amounts of money coming in, and a distinct organizational structure. Your “shareholders” are the taxpayers, and your “customers” are the students. Try employing a little critical thinking when trying to grasp this concept…oh wait, that’s a no-no in today’s classroom.

EducationCEO

May 25th, 2010
3:56 pm

Should have said *yes*…darn fly bothering me!

PappyHappy

May 25th, 2010
4:00 pm

Martha Reichrath should be encouraged to run for the permanent position as Superintendent. She has the experience in the class room; experience as an administrator; experience in her current position; and more importantly, has the interests of the students and Georgia’s standing in the US as her prime motivator.

The crop of candidates — both parties — mentioned so far may be great humans, but Georgia is in such a fix now that it is going to take the intelligence, self determination, will and experience of someone like Martha Reichrath to pull and lead us out of the bottom!

WitCanBeLearned

May 25th, 2010
4:00 pm

Ann Farrell could straighten this whole mess out. She should replace Kathy Cox.

bwheat

May 25th, 2010
4:02 pm

have all illigals pay out of state fees to each school system they go to. if them were born her but their patents are illigal they still pay outof state. they will pay or move out. eather way the budget gets the help we need