White House statement on No Child waivers granted to 10 states, including Georgia

From White House:

President Barack Obama will announce today that ten states that have agreed to implement bold reforms around standards and accountability will receive flexibility from the burdensome mandates of the federal education law known as No Child Left Behind.

In exchange for this flexibility, these states have agreed to raise standards, improve accountability, and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness. The ten states approved for flexibility are Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

In a White House announcement attended by state education officials, teachers, civil rights, and business leaders, the President will say that NCLB, which is five years overdue for a rewrite, is driving the wrong behaviors, from teaching to the test to federally determined, one-size-fits-all interventions. The President will call on Congress to work across the aisle to fix the law even as his administration offers solutions for states to help prepare all students for college and career readiness.

“After waiting far too long for Congress to reform No Child Left Behind, my Administration is giving states the opportunity to set higher, more honest standards in exchange for more flexibility,” said President Obama. “Today, we’re giving 10 states the green light to continue making reforms that are best for them. Because if we’re serious about helping our children reach their potential, the best ideas aren’t going to come from Washington alone. Our job is to harness those ideas, and to hold states and schools accountable for making them work.”

The administration is continuing to work closely with New Mexico, the eleventh state that requested flexibility in the first round. Twenty-eight other states along with D.C. and Puerto Rico have indicated their intent to seek waivers.

The administration’s decision to provide waivers followed extensive efforts to work with Congress to rewrite NCLB. In March 2010, the administration submitted a “blueprint for reform” to Congress and has met extensively with Republican and Democratic legislators.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that current law drives down standards, weakens accountability, causes narrowing of the curriculum and labels too many schools as failing. Moreover, the law mandates unworkable remedies at the federal level instead of allowing local educators to make spending decisions.

“Rather than dictating educational decisions from Washington, we want state and local educators to decide how to best meet the individual needs of students,” said Duncan.

To get flexibility from NCLB, states must adopt and have a plan to implement college and career-ready standards. They must also create comprehensive systems of teacher and principal development, evaluation and support that include factors beyond test scores, such as principal observation, peer review, student work, or parent and student feedback.

States receiving waivers no longer have to meet 2014 targets set by NCLB but they must set new performance targets for improving student achievement and closing achievement gaps. They also must have accountability systems that recognize and reward high-performing schools and those that are making significant gains, while targeting rigorous and comprehensive interventions for the lowest-performing schools. Under the state-developed plans, all schools will develop and implement plans for improving educational outcomes for underperforming subgroups of students. State plans will require continued transparency around achievement gaps, but will provide schools and districts greater flexibility in how they spend Title I federal dollars.

–from Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

40 comments Add your comment

Beverly Fraud

February 9th, 2012
11:13 am

Let’s be real clear here: While they HAVE been exempted from NCLB, they have NOT been exempted from sheer, total, complete, abject stupidity.



February 9th, 2012
11:54 am

So Georgia has agreed to “raise standards, improve accountibility and undertake essential reforms to improve teacher effectiveness”. Of course you know the odds of any of this actually happening are about zero.

Parent Teacher

February 9th, 2012
12:03 pm

Unfortunately what the waiver requires is that we have a whole new set of rules that are taking affect. Just like government, fix one set of failed rules with another set of rules.

that's goofy

February 9th, 2012
12:09 pm

NCLB = good idea that was poorly executed. Raising expectations is a good idea but expecting all students to meet the same standard is ignorant. All kids are capable of learning but they not at the same pace. More importantly students do not begin at the same level.

Taxi Smith

February 9th, 2012
12:11 pm

In oither words, Mr. Obama wants teachers in these states PLEASE, PLEASE to vote for him. Note: Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. See a pattern?

Once Again

February 9th, 2012
12:11 pm

The schools are a failure, the program is a failure, but rather than address the failure by ending the program, we just put yet another government solution on the problem. Maybe if someone would step back a bit and do the proper investigation, they would see that every failed government problem stems from a desire to fix a problem that a previous government problem created.

Want to fix the schools? Allow parents to hold the schools directly accountable, get government out of the education business COMPLETELY – and that includes stealing money on behalf of parents to fund their kid’s educations.


February 9th, 2012
12:14 pm

Please remind me what exactly does the DOE do???


February 9th, 2012
12:14 pm

get government out of the education business

Like when we were segregated?


February 9th, 2012
12:20 pm

“They also must have accountability systems that recognize and reward high-performing schools and those that are making significant gains, while targeting rigorous and comprehensive interventions for the lowest-performing schools.”

Accountability systems. this is the part that most people who are celebrating the waiver haven’t read or don’t understand or refuse to acknowledge. The waiver still holds schools accountable.

What the waiver doesn’t do (and teachers wanted and asked for) is to judge them on the results of one test (the CRCT).

So before anyone celebrates the “end” of NCLB, one must read the waiver — there’s no fine print in it, it’s clear and to the point — there will still be standards that must be met and those that don’t meet them will still be held accountable.


Dunwoody Mom

February 9th, 2012
12:22 pm

Accountability systems. this is the part that most people who are celebrating the waiver haven’t read or don’t understand or refuse to acknowledge. The waiver still holds schools accountable.

The schools should be held accountable. I’m not sure anyone who actually read the waiver request when it was posted on the GABOE website would think there is no accountability.


February 9th, 2012
12:24 pm

Flexibility heh! Yep until we in the guvmint can figure out how to fix this here problem that we have caused we are gonna waive y’all from compliance if you do this and that…..


February 9th, 2012
12:25 pm

no child left behind did not put children ahead.

To Once Again

February 9th, 2012
12:25 pm

Once again, you write “Want to fix the schools? Allow parents to hold the schools directly accountable, get government out of the education business COMPLETELY ”

I am a parent who wants and needs my government in my school. I need the government to be a watch dog and force teachers to be mandatory reporters of crimes. Without the government in schools, things like pedophiles can run rampant. When i am at work and literally unable to see or hear what is going on in my child’s classroom, I need the government there to protect my child. I could list a hundred more things that I need the government to do in school but I think you get the point. There are some things an individual can do alone but there are some things that can only be accomplished by forming a government and letting it work for the safety and concerns of all of us.



February 9th, 2012
12:28 pm

Parent Teacher

February 9th, 2012
12:30 pm

The waiver is vague at best. It basically says that the states will put something in place soon, but does not give specifics to what that is. This is why teachers get nervous. Teachers are continually being told that there are new expectations and you are going to be held accountable but the details are lacking. Even now teachers are being introduced to a new evaluation instrument that the details have not been worked out. When asked they keep saying hopefully by next school year these will be in place. How would anyone like to be judged on criteria that is not in place until after you have been judged. It does not make sense.

To Dunwoody Mom

February 9th, 2012
12:31 pm

You wrote “The schools should be held accountable. I’m not sure anyone who actually read the waiver request when it was posted on the GABOE website would think there is no accountability.”

There are some bloggers on Get Schooled who are teachers who believe that they (teachers) and schools should not be held accountable. They believe they should not be judged or rated on their performance as a teacher and say they have no influence on whether a child learns or not. yes, shocking, but true. Those same teacher-bloggers incorrectly assumed that the end of NCLB meant the end to standards for teaching and evaluations for teachers, which isn’t the case.

The waiver still measures a teacher’s performance and a test taken by the students is jsut one of the measurements, not the complete measurement, but a significant part of it. That’s what those teacher-bloggers still don’t understand or don’t know or won’t acknowlege.


Do subgroups still matter?

February 9th, 2012
12:32 pm

Do the new Georgia accountability standards that garnered it a waiver still have provisions that require the performance of subgroups? If so, can someone explain how exactly?


February 9th, 2012
12:33 pm

It sounds like President Obama is once again ignoring the law since Congress didn’t do what he wanted. He has a very disturbing authoritarian tendency. He should have been a leader and got everybody together and insist they get it done, but uniting does not appear to be one of his skill sets.

To Parent Teacher

February 9th, 2012
12:34 pm

YOu make a valid point that “How would anyone like to be judged on criteria that is not in place until after you have been judged. It does not make sense.”

I wouldn’t like it either but my job and yours are very different. i can get fired at the drop of a hat and it takes years and egregious failure for a teacher to lose his or her job.

As a teacher in GA if you are competent or just plain mediocre, you’ll have a job for life.


February 9th, 2012
12:37 pm

Let parents hold the schools directly responsible without BOE (”guvmint”) intervention? Like the parents who don’t show up until 2 hours after a school event ends to pick up their kid because, sorry they were “stuck” at work? Or like the parents who complain to the principal because their child received an unexcused absence for a family joy trip to California? Or like the parents who band together to petition for a later school start date because the school calendar doesn’t fit their “summer plans”? I’d rather have the “guvmint” intervention.

Parent Teacher

February 9th, 2012
12:52 pm

In GA teachers are on a one year contract. If an administrator wants to end your contract after that year all they have to do is show evidence that you are not performing. It does not take an act of congress or multiple years. Good administrators have good teachers and bad administrators tend to have a higher percentage of poor teachers. There is no tenure or guarantee for teachers.

Beverly Fraud

February 9th, 2012
12:55 pm

“NCLB = good idea that was poorly executed.”

Not exactly. Trying to make good on a death sentence to a convicted murderer by tossing Nerf footballs at him from 1000 yards away would be an example of “poor execution”.

NCLB was a poor idea ABYSMALLY executed.

Beverly Fraud

February 9th, 2012
12:59 pm

“As a teacher in GA if you are competent”

What a TELLING statement about the LACK of respect we have for teachers. If someone is COMPETENT at their job, they will have one.

Oh how HORRIBLE. Oh the INJUSTICE that we allow COMPETENT people to teach. Quick someone call Amnesty International.

Oh the children.

Parent Teacher

February 9th, 2012
1:01 pm

Most teachers welcome observations and have nothing to fear. I as an educator look for feedback that helps me become a better teacher. Feedback from administration, other teachers, students, parents and from whomever can make me a better teacher. The main problem to me is when the state puts an observation instrument in place, is actively using this tool and the details of how you will be judged on this information have not been decided. The state in notorious for this type of behavior. Stop putting the cart before the horse.

Beverly Fraud

February 9th, 2012
1:13 pm

“Most teachers welcome observations and have nothing to fear”

You mean like the HUNDREDS who were non renewed for HONESTLY testifying in the APS cheating scandal?

To Parent Teacher from Good Ma

February 9th, 2012
1:35 pm

You are worrying needlessly. It takes years and years of failures and misdeeds and neglect to get a bad teacher out of the system. If you are just half the good teacher you claim to be, then just relax and keep teaching. Good teachers have nothing to worry about. Good teachers will have a job for life.

Hey Bev,

February 9th, 2012
1:40 pm

Beverly you say “What a TELLING statement about the LACK of respect we have for teachers. If someone is COMPETENT at their job, they will have one.”

Bev, relax already. My kid’s teacher cannot use common standard English. She/he has had a job for most of her life. Her/his grasp of common grammar is repugnant and pitiful. She/he is nowhere near losing her/his job.

There are no alarms going off here. Good teachers have nothing to fear. Mediocre teachers have nothing to fear. It takes mountains and mountains of evidence and years of fighting to get rid of a bad teacher.

…and good teachers want bad teachers out too. Which one are you?


To Parent Teacher from GM

February 9th, 2012
1:44 pm

You write “There is no tenure or guarantee for teachers.”

Welcome to my world, the world of business. I am not guaranteed anything and even when I do have a contract, it can be terminated in the time it takes you to blink.

You only have something to worry about if you are a horrible teacher. Then, you might lose your job.

If you are a good teacher you should celebrate bad ones getting out of the system because they make you look bad. If you want more respect as a profession, then help to clean up your profession but getting bad teachers out of school.

Parent Teacher

February 9th, 2012
1:51 pm


You misunderstand my frustration for worry. I am not afraid fo the new instrument I am frustrated that as a Professional that I can’t expect a level of professionalism from the state. It is not to much to ask that the state stop putting programs in place before they have decided how it will work. This is not just on the evaluations but on other areas as well.

another comment

February 9th, 2012
2:50 pm

First of all, I grew up and was educated in one of the top 10 states up North. I was recruited out of Graduate School as a STEM major from a school that was #1 in my major. I had a full scholarship to graduate school based on my college academics. The Top 100 General Contracting Firm that I worked for in Atlanta, as well as the next two that I work for, routinely bypassed grads of Georgia Tech and those who had been educated in Ga high Schools. One of the companies only had owner’s son went to Georgia Tech. He was smart enough to have me do his work.

This State needs to be willing to pay more for Education. They need a real teacher’s Union, who will make sure that qualified teachers are hired. People do not understand that Unions provide training for teachers and union members. Unions have historically been who provided the entire Construction trades helper to Journeyman training program. A Strong union makes sure that its membership are qualified and keep up their training. Whether that training is provided through negotations with the employer in a contract, or through dues paid to the union. The union negotiates for the group as a whole for wages that would despite the check off for dues. Most importantly they make sure that you do not have these political games of cutting teachers salaries and not the friends and families in Administration.They also make sure that their is some fair process of who gets hired and fired.

What qualified, highly educated person wants to come teach in a State where the teacher pay has been declining every year. Where there are Friends and Families hires by board members. We hear over and over that AKA a black sorierty has its lock on the Administration jobs in Dekalb, and unless you were a Sister in College you don’t get a teaching job over their. In Cobb, we had a Principal that moved from one school to another school, he used Sanderson’s firing of 400 teachers to fire 10 of the 17 Math teachers at the school. Which included two of the best Math teachers at the school. The parents and those teachers lobbied and they promptly got their positions back. Within a week 8-9 of the Math positions were posted and then filled by noon by teachers from his old school a failing South Cobb. A Union state this BS would not happen. Look at the top 10 States in Education, they are all Union States. They all pay their teachers more. No I am not advocating New York Cities Rubber Rooms, where they can not fire anyone.

But we should not have AKA sister’s teaching our students who can not pronounce the work “ask” and say “ax”. When my child got one of those in 3rd grade, I kept correcting her and said it is “ask”. I am sure it did not endear me, but my child in the third grade should be taught proper English. No one should be allowed to teach in our elementary schools who can not pronounce the word ask as “ask” not “ax”. Some how the Catholic Schools that were only paying entry level teachers $27,000 vs. the $37,000 that the public schools were at the time made sure that their teachers spoke english correctly. It is just like they got Spanish teachers that spoke Columbian spanish and not sloppy Mexican spanish.

We have to raise the pay and have better working conditions along with worker protections to get better quality teachers. These are our children. A teacher is required to have at least a bachelors degree and certification. The starting salaries should be at least $45-50K, and then the raises should be a combination of merit and longevity. Their should be a possibility of great, impactful teachers to make 6 figures. The teachers, who when you poll students, who made the biggest impact on your life should be rewarded. I have never seen so many with a Special Education degree, then coach, barely 3 year in the class room, on-line Admin. Master’s and Doctorate in Leadership, become AP, Principals and Supt. in the minimum timeframes. What on earth do they know about teaching the average and above average child.

I had one teacher tell me that he got the Special Ed. Designation on top of his Math Ed. at the time he was in college, because they were pushing it as a way to get a job easier, and make more money. But he told me there was no way he does droll or change diapers. I like this person and feel he is very honest.


February 9th, 2012
2:58 pm

NCLB exposed a significant number of corrupt and dishonest educators and administrators for what they were, which benefits the kids and the public. It’s not a good idea to do anything that turns down the heat on educators and administrators who place their own greed ahead of providing the kids an honest education while providing an honest reporting to the public they serve.

“Rather than dictating educational decisions from Washington, we want state and local educators to decide how to best meet the individual needs of students,”

Right. This must have come from the B. Hall wing of the communications department.


February 9th, 2012
5:05 pm

Carlosgvv, I believe the chances of this new and improved “reform” being instituted would have to ascend a few rungs of probability before assuming that lofty zero. All this happy talk and gladhanding is simply associated with the grand ole political tactic known as electioneering.

old teach

February 9th, 2012
6:47 pm

Oh, the irony of hindsight! Possibly the only positive effect of NCLB was forcing schools to look at–not over–low-performing subgroups. And significant strides have been made in improving those students’ learning. But constructing a pass/fail scenario which considered schools failures because of a handful of students whose improvement missed the target by a percentage point set the stage for the Law of Unintended Consequences. Teach to the test, don’t discuss material that’s not in the standards, and transfer the burden of learning from the student to the school.
But now, instead of starting over, the idea is to tweak NCLB. And for the states with waivers, there are MORE rules and regulations on accountability. What are we going to say 5 years from now?


February 9th, 2012
9:58 pm

I think the feds should get out of education — they were out a long time ago and, perhaps, we were better off. Now, they take money from taxpayers and borrow money from China and elsewhere and then decide how to give it back around the country with various “strings” attached. I think it would be better if there were some different “constraints” like not allowing states in the bottom 25 of the country create and develoop their own curriculum …make them adopt curriculum from states in the top 10 — you can pick and choose various subjects from different states — e.g. math from Mass. and english from North Carolina but only from the top 10. Constraint number 2 is that all teachers must be “educated” – e.g. must be able to pass certain competency tests within a certain number of tries — I like the Mass. exam approach — it’s harder than the national exam but we could use the National exam. The Georgia exam is too easy — too many of those teaching in Georgia don’t know that there are 50 states and can not speak and write proper English (this isn’t to say that all of our teachers fall into this category but a number of them do). Allow for appropriate continuing education, including subject area masters degrees and pay an appropriate salary. Get the dollars to the “floor” (e.g. into the classroom either through vouchers or through some system whereby at least 80% of the money must go into the school house without “games”, with on-line verifialbe and audited check registers and pcard registers and filed tax returs so there’s accountability for the funds and it stops being used as a jobs program and is used for actual education instead).

No child!!

February 9th, 2012
11:59 pm

Yes!! No more tests for compliance!!! This should make Ga schools top of the line–leading edge!! No more tests!!! YES!!!

Beverly Fraud

February 10th, 2012
5:04 am

@Hey Bev

“Bev, relax already. My kid’s teacher cannot use common standard English. She/he has had a job for most of her life. Her/his grasp of common grammar is repugnant and pitiful. She/he is nowhere near losing her/his job”

Well I would submit to you the teacher is NOT competent. Also, if you think the grammar of some teachers is horrible, you should check out the grammar of some ADMINISTRATORS.

“There are no alarms going off here. Good teachers have nothing to fear. Mediocre teachers have nothing to fear.”

This is a common misconception. In reality, good teachers often have MORE to fear than poor ones. Good ones stand up for their students and often face MASSIVE retaliation.

Just look at the teachers who honestly testified about the cheating, and the retaliation that was so BLATANT the governor had to step in and stop it.

The “grammar challenged” didn’t fear losing their jobs, because many were also INTEGRITY challenged. But the good ones who DID stand up; not so lucky in many cases.

Yet still, to this day, can you name ANY serious effort to address administrative retaliation?


February 10th, 2012
8:40 am

The real shame of NCLB as it was implemented in the metro area (or at least per my experience in DCSS) is it resulted in the mass cheating scandal, it was a reinstatement of MtoM instead of causing a real re-evaluation of the real issues in the underlying “weak” schools (setting aside parent issues we discuss) thereby causing mass overcrowding at “popular” schools where the subgroups transferring in were not faring any better than the ones who were already there but this didn’t matter — the “pass” or “fail” hinged on the rest of the school and I’m not sure I know of very many teachers who didn’t meet the “mastery” standards called for by the law, who do not speak English or write English well who were let go and the funds that the “departing” students left from the title 1 schools (which actually never really made it to their schools because of all the administrative programs DCSS was doing cp. how Gwinnett was actually using said funds to work through title 1 reading and math teachers with the kids on a weekly/daily basis) never followed the kids to the schools they went to and then we paid the paid the parents of the kids hundreds of dollars a month for the privilege of being able to travel cross county (in a few instances from other counties) to different schools without the special, extra title 1 help…. I say “good riddance” and I hope Race to the Top isn’t worse. As, previously indicated, let’s get rid of federal intervention — I think it’s a real misuse of resources — a “stealing from Peter to pay Paul” funds that the feds don’t really have basically to facilitate a jobs program at both the federal and state level and not to really help kids learn, which is really what this is supposed to be about.


February 10th, 2012
9:32 am

The disgrace that is called Georgia Public edcuation has been well documented .See the 2 stories from the AJc that says it all . Ignorance = economic disaster and continued job loss. The classrooms I have taught in an Eastside suburban county are dismal failures from any measure.

U.S lag in science, math a disaster in the makingBy William J. Bennett, CNN Contributor
updated 10:02 AM EST, Thu February 9, 2012
President Barack Obama meeting with a participant from the second annual White House Science Fair on February 7.STORY HIGHLIGHTS
Reports show America is losing its competitive edge in math, engineering, science, technology
William Bennett: We must do a better job in training our citizens and students in STEM fields
Bennett offers 5 ways in which we can improve national math and science education
He says that if America wants to stay on top, it has to do more to help students and teachers
Editor’s note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of “The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood.” He is a former secretary of Education and a senior adviser to Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing STEM education curricular programs.

(CNN) — Almost everyone, from educators to government officials to industry experts, laments the lackluster abilities and performance of our nations’ students in science, technology, engineering and math (know as STEM education).

Two indicators are particularly worrisome, especially as this country experiences greater global competition and high unemployment. American students score 23rd in math and 31st in science when compared with 65 other top industrial countries. In math, we are beaten by countries from Lichtenstein and Slovakia to the Netherlands and Singapore. In science, we are beaten by countries from New Zealand and Estonia to Finland and Hungary.

For the United States, which led the way in space after Sputnik and showed the way in technological development and economic growth for the last 40 years, this is more than an embarrassment. And, for the future of our own GDP, economic well-being, and employer and employment needs, this is a disaster in the making. If the United States wishes to remain the most competitive and innovative country in the world — never mind just another competitive and innovative country in the constellation of industrial nations — this cannot stand.

William BennettAs a report released this week from the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology found, “economic forecasts point to a need for producing, over the next decade, approximately 1 million more college graduates in STEM fields than expected under current assumptions.”

Already, for many, the answer is to import the technological know-how that we need. There is nothing wrong with importing high-skilled labor and expanding visas and citizenship quotas for those needs we can’t meet ourselves, but should we not be able to do a better job in growing and training our own citizens and students first?

Obama helps fire marshmallow gun President Barack Obama brought attention to the problem this week while hosting the second annual White House Science Fair. Featuring more than 100 middle school and high school students with their various inventions, the president talked not just about the economic reasons important to our success in STEM education but also our historic — indeed, founding — commitment to it:

“[T]he belief that we belong on the cutting edge of innovation, that’s an idea as old as America itself. … You think about our Founding Fathers — they were all out there doing experiments — and folks like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, they were constantly curious about the world around them and trying to figure out how can we help shape that environment so that people’s lives are better.

“It’s in our DNA.”

To tell students already engaged in experimentation, innovation and invention that scientific knowledge is in our DNA is more than appropriate. But for too many students, it simply is not true today.

Indeed, when it comes to math and science, we don’t just fail compared to other industrialized nations, we fail ourselves. Only 26% of our nation’s high school seniors perform at proficient levels or above in mathematics and only 21% of our nation’s high school seniors perform at proficient levels or above in science. And, when these students do enter college on a pathway toward a degree in science or engineering, nearly 40% of them switch majors in what one expert has called “the math-science death march.”

To improve these numbers, and to become a nation strong in innovation again, will require a lot of work, but it is work that is doable. Here’s how:

I. Front-load STEM-related teaching. Tap into children’s natural curiosity and teach it earlier in school, and recognize subjects like math and science are as important as English. One recent story out of Chicago showed the benefit to students in learning math as early as preschool, where the lessons are integrated into “story time, puzzle time, just about any time of the day.”

II. Recognize that teachers, especially in the early grades, need training in math so they can integrate it as much as possible into children’s school life and curriculum.

III. Do not segregate math and science classes from the rest of the school building or coursework. Turn away from the notion of specialized elementary and secondary schools whose focus is on math and science. These areas of study should be in all schools and deemed a critical part of each and every school’s broad curriculum. Students who excel in these areas should not be seen as “different” or libeled as “special” or worse.

IV. Each and every class taught, where possible and relevant, should adopt forms of mathematical and scientific methods in its pedagogy, engage in practices of “building models, arguing from evidence and communicating findings” so as to “increase the likelihood that students will learns the ideas of science or engineering and mathematics at a deeper, more enduring level,” as two STEM scholars recently suggested.

V. School districts and principals should avail themselves of nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to supplemental training of teachers in STEM areas. Most good teachers want additional training. And most adults cheer when students light up in these areas after they are inspired by a great teacher. Many of us have seen the Chevron commercial that shows an eighth grade student, Kaisaiah, building a robot and calling science “cool,” with the help of Project Lead the Way (to which I’m a senior adviser). Enterprising organizations such as Project Lead the Way host additional training for teachers. Students who take courses from these teachers are more interested and dedicated to their coursework than those who are not. With teachers who can show the relevance and fun of STEM education, we can nurture more students to build the kind of experiments and models one sees at events such as the White House Science Fair.

We now know from study after study the value of great teachers. Quite simply, the effect of a quality teacher on a child’s life is monumental. Corporations should further endow nonprofits dedicated to enhancing teachers’ abilities, and school districts and principals should further utilize these auxiliary institutions.

In the end, the test of whether we should do better at teaching STEM education does not require an analysis of what our leaders of industries say they are looking for or what international tests show as our failings. It is simply this: Ask any adult not employed in a STEM area of work: “Don’t you wish you studied and appreciated math and science courses earlier in school?” The answer almost always is going to be: “yes.” And so, too, should it be for students now … not adults later.

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Metro Atlanta / State News 5:33 a.m. Friday, February 10, 2012 Text size:
Decrease Increase Georgia is dead last in financial securityShareThisPrint E-mail .By Craig Schneider

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgians live closer to the financial edge than anyone else in the nation, and the danger extends beyond the poor to the middle class, according to a newly published in-depth analysis.

Enlarge photo Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com Mike Rohlfs is an automotive technician at Carl Black GMC Buick in Kennesaw and is among many Georgians who are ‘liquid-asset poor.’

More Atlanta area news »
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.The study by the Washington-based Corporation for Enterprise Development ranked Georgia dead last in terms of the financial security of its residents, based on factors such as their high debt load, lack of savings and assets, and the prevalence of personal bankruptcies.

“This is not just people with a low-end job or people on unemployment,” said Kasey Wiedrich, a senior researcher for the nonprofit educational organization, which promotes economic opportunities for people with low incomes. “A lot of these families make a decent living, but they don’t have savings and they’re just getting by.”

The report reflected the devastating blows that have struck a state where unemployment exceeds the national average and major economic engines — real estate, banking and home construction — aren’t firing on all cylinders. The state ranked in the bottom fifth of states in several categories: poverty-level income (42nd in the country), bankruptcies (50th), poor credit (48th), overdue debt (48th), and households with neither a savings nor a checking account (49th).

Georgia households’ average net worth of $48,425 fell far below the national average of $70,600 — yet one more indicator that even amid signs of an economic rebound, many Georgians’ finances are precarious.

“Even if the jobs come back and bring families out of crisis, many have a long way before they can start saving and planning for the future,” Wiedrich said.

Mike Rohlfs lives on the financial edge. The certified automotive technician, who lives in Marietta, has an income well above the Cobb County average of $30,424, but he says he’s just two paychecks away from not being able to pay his bills.

“I’m a week-to-weeker,” said Rohlfs, 39, noting that much of his discretionary income has gone into buying tens of thousands of dollars worth of automotive tools.

Rohlfs has already gone bust once. In 2009, he was working at a Saturn dealership when his boss walked in and said the shop was closing for good in 36 hours. Things went downhill fast from there. Rohlfs grabbed a job at half his former pay and took a debt consolation loan to reduce his monthly nut.

“I had to pull the rug back under me,” he said.

He acknowledged that he could do more to save money. He’s thought about cancelling his cable TV and downgrading his cell phone service. “But when I look at the grand scheme, it’s chump change,” he said. “The last thing I want to do is work hard and not be able to enjoy my money.”

In the terminology economists use, Rohlfs is “liquid asset poor” — a description that fits more than half the households in Georgia. If such households lose their income, they can not lay their hands on enough cash to keep them out of poverty for three months.

In addition to measuring the financial security of each state’s residents, the study’s authors challenged states to enact policies and programs to shore up areas in which they were weak. In Georgia, calls for additional government intervention are apt to meet stiff resistance, with opinions often split along partisan lines. Policy analysts across the political spectrum noted that few if any of the solutions proposed by the group, which identifies itself as progressive, are on the table here.

For example, pointing to Georgia’s high percentage of uninsured households, the study recommended that the state make more families eligible for Medicaid, the federal-state program that provides medical care to low-income families. Knowledgeable Georgians said the only way that will occur here is if the federal health care overhaul survives an upcoming review by the U.S. Supreme Court.

That would spell trouble for Georgia, said Kelly McCutchen, president of the fiscally conservative Georgia Public Policy Foundation. “There’s no need to increase government welfare programs,” McCutchen said. “We need to expand job opportunities.”

He said the state is already doing a lot to create jobs by marketing Georgia to outside companies, providing assistance to small businesses and working with technical schools to train workers for specific companies.

The state did rank high — in 7th place — for its percentage of businesses with fewer than five employees, defined as microenterprises. But it ranked 49th for small business ownership rate, a sign, the study’s authors said, that microenterprises need more assistance to grow.

Gov. Nathan Deal’s office declined to comment on the study.

Zac Williams didn’t expect to be living check-to-check when he moved to Atlanta eight months ago from a small town in Ohio. But the 28-year-old market researcher found that the costs of living here far exceeded his expectations.

With little savings, school debt of $55,000, and a 9-year-old Honda Civic as his primary asset, Williams is working hard to save money. But he worries that he’s pushing his luck, eating lots of fast food and avoiding doctor appointments in order to save money. A few weeks ago, his boss had to virtually order him to see a doctor when an eye irritation grew into a rash.

“I have this feeling hanging over my head,” he said. “When am I going to stop just barely making it?”

February 9th, 2012
2:48 pm
The US publc education ranking for math and Science worldwide has dropped to 25th place. Of interest higher ranking countries are in the Far East and Europe . The vast amount of US Public schools are now populated by third world students from areas such as Central America, Mexico and recent inflow from Africa ,Mideast and island nations . None of these legal or illegal immigrant’s native countries rank in the top 50 in Math and science achievements. It is futile to think if this is the future of America these students will be able to compete in a world market for jobs.

What future is there in Georgia after reading these summaries?

Once Again

February 10th, 2012
1:00 pm

To Once Again – And how is that blind reliance on government as the watchdog of your and your child’s safety working out for you???? How about accountability? Can you take your money and walk when you are dissatisfied? Can you get financial restitution when a contract is violated? Can you even get a contract spelling out what the government will and won’t do for you or your safety?

The Supreme Court has ruled numerous times that it is not the reponsiblity of a police officer to protect a specific individual from a crime, that they serve the general public. So no accountability, no liability, etc.

You think that it is government keeping you safe, yet their system allows pedophiles to teach every day. There is no accountability, no financial responsilbility, etc. In fact, should you actually be able to sue the government (in government court of course, where your case will likely be thrown out before it even gets going), and you actually win, who pays?? The “government”, or you the taxpayer. YOU SUCKER.

Governments are formed among men to protect our unalienable rights (or so the Declaration of Independence tells us). Taking our money through force to set up monopoly systems of “education” delivery while imposing restrictive rules and regulations on those who would set up alternatives, hassling parents who wish to educate at home, etc. hardly seems consistent with protecting natural rights.

But hey, you have the fantasy world you live in while I turn on the news, read this blog, surf the internet, and see the truth about the abject failure of government every day.


February 10th, 2012
5:03 pm

So in Gatto’s book he gets into how the system that has been implemented for our system of public education has been designed from its outset (late 1800s early 1900s) on the Prussian system to have kids who are conditioned to “listening” to superiors and doing things by rote. This is engrained from age 5 forward and is the antithesis to creativity. Perhaps the fact that, if he is correct, and again, I’m intrigued by what he says, I’m not saying he’s absolutely right, I’m trying to get you to read the book, this may explain why we as a society are not producing, creative and educated “citizens” into the world as older teens — we’ve either lost them by age 12 because they don’t believe in themselves that they can do anything because they can’t “master” what society says they’re supposed to have mastered in the “pyramid” of schooling or they aren’t being encouarged on the “learn by doing front” in making mistakes and growing fom mistakes in a creative way (I think ala Montesori altough I’ve never been a real Montesori fan).
On a different front, I have a son in an engineering program in NY — he’s not at GA Tech by design — I thought it would be a disaster for him — his program has lost half of their kids since freshman year at the state university. He knows dozens of others who are no longer in their engineering programs and who have shifted to non-engineering majors and another set of dozens of kids who have transfered to different schools. So, in this discussion on STEM — we either are not preparing our kids for STEM majors or there’s just something about how our STEM (specifically engineering majors) are treated in college that sends them fleaing (as I’ve stated, so far, knock on wood, he’s still holding in there) — it’s an “out to get you” environment that perhaps needs to be faced if we want more Americans graduating with these degrees. I think the HOPE discussion should have a different program/requirements for engineering and other STEM degrees to recognize how much harder these degrees are to obtain and how much more we need them on the back end.