Student success, Georgia economy threatened by state’s declining support

Taifa S. Butler is the deputy director of Georgia Budget & Policy Institute, which will release a survey today of Georgia’s 180 school districts on the impact of state funding cuts.

The 150 districts that responded too the survey educate more than 92 percent of the students in public schools. The survey found that the state’s lack of support for education diminishes learning opportunities for students by forcing school districts to shorten the school year, increase class size, reduce the number of teachers and cut teacher pay.

By Taifa S. Butler

Georgia’s future depends on its ability to attract employers, create jobs, and grow the economy, and a key ingredient to this is a highly skilled and educated workforce. Yet over the past decade, state investment in public education has declined significantly, undermining our ability to create and nurture the next generation of workers.

State leaders set ambitious goals to improve the quality of the workforce and made strengthening public education a central strategy to achieve these objectives. Teachers and school districts have been working to improve learning and ensure that students meet rigorous state-established achievement goals, but just as the state is expecting more from students and educators, it is investing less.

Walk into a public school in Georgia today, and you are likely to find students trying to learn in less-than-ideal circumstances. Due to years of declining state support for public education, school districts across the state have shortened the school year, increased class size, reduced the number of teachers, or cut teacher pay, according to a survey conducted by the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute.

Of the 150 districts that responded to our survey, two of three have cut this year’s school calendar by at least six days. Six in 10 districts report an increase in class size. At the same time, teachers’ workdays have been cut so they are losing valuable planning time and pay.

Any of these changes would present difficulties, but with all three playing out in many districts, you have conditions that diminish learning opportunities for students. This makes it all the more difficult for educators to meet the state’s ambitious academic goals. The most hurt by the state’s declining support are low-income students, who make up nearly six out of every 10 Georgia students. These students already face greater barriers to academic success and need more support to reach their potential. If Georgia is serious about preparing all students to become contributing members of our economy as adults, it needs to ensure that students are spending sufficient time in the classroom with high-quality teachers and the opportunity for individual attention. School districts simply cannot do this without adequate investment from the state.

Looking to the future, local districts will likely face additional challenges. Efforts by Congress to address the federal deficit may mean fewer federal dollars for schools that serve the state’s neediest students. Here at home, the potential creation of a separate publicly funded state charter school system may lead to even less money for our schools.

To educate our children for a 21st century economy, policymakers must start fully investing in our schools. The responsible way to do this is to take a balanced approach to the state’s budget that includes new revenue to support education and other vital state services. We can no longer afford the cuts-only approach implemented for the last decade for public education. It hurt not only schools but other investments vital to creating good jobs and building a strong economy.

For years our students and educators have been asked to do more. To guarantee that Georgia has a strong, educated workforce, it’s time for the General Assembly to do the same.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

75 comments Add your comment

Reallyperplexed

October 15th, 2012
4:49 am

Educators have been doing more for less too long. With furlogh days, teacher salary cuts 3% overall and even teacher layoffs, teachers are going to begin to shut down!!! Teachers rarely have time to breathe during the day: Common Core in-services, data teams engagement, tutoring students before and after school and various other collaborations translates into teachers spending even more time at home grading papers. Do those that have become a success from the President, Governors, Senators and Mayors all have selected meomories and do they fail to recollect that if it was not for educators, where would they be?

Dr. Craig Spinks/ Georgians for Educational Excellence

October 15th, 2012
5:10 am

With all due respect, Mr./Ms. Butler, has your organization audited any one of the local education agencies surveyed to insure that it is using its present funding in an efficient and effective manner?

Lexi

October 15th, 2012
5:22 am

How much was spent per pupil, from all funding sources, in Georgia public schools in each of the last ten years? I don’t see any data, only conclusory statements about decline.

Jack

October 15th, 2012
5:30 am

A dedicated student can get a good education; especially so if his/her parents are dedicated also.

Just What ALEC wants

October 15th, 2012
5:49 am

Looks like the ALEC model is working. Kill the public schools and get rich when the “for-profit” companies roll in. Yet the public apparently supports it. Sad, so very sad.

bootney farnsworth

October 15th, 2012
6:06 am

you get what you pay for

d

October 15th, 2012
6:26 am

But wait, I thought we were “throwing money at the government schools.” In all seriousness, I haven’t worked a full 190-day contract since 2008-2009 and now in my eight year of teaching am making the same salary as a 1st year teacher (unless you count math and science – and brand new teachers are earning more than I am). All I want to do as a teacher is help engage students in lessons that help them acquire the knowledge that they need to be successful in the post-secondary environment that they will be in about six months. That is difficult when I can barely move around my own classroom because of the number of students in there, when I don’t have time to plan out new or innovative lessons, or the money to afford the supplies for the lessons and simulations that I have done in the past. Now with the focus on how much “value” I add to my students, I wonder if those in charge really care about the 1.7 million public school students in Georgia or killing public education more.

teacher&mom

October 15th, 2012
6:59 am

I hope readers will take the time to read through the survey results. When you see how many schools have been forced to reduce student learning days, increase classroom sizes, and the reduction in the teaching force (while student enrollment has increased), perhaps…perhaps….the message will finally sink in.

We are undermining our public schools and every gain that has been made in the past decade is in danger.

To add insult to injury…these reductions began BEFORE the economic crisis.

catlady

October 15th, 2012
7:01 am

I teach in an all-of-the-above school district, except we have been cut 10 days for the last 3 years, and 4 days the year before that. What the state has done, through its legislature, is horrible. Make a list of things we seem to have money for, and compare that to what has been cut from education,

bubba

October 15th, 2012
7:37 am

This article wants to link “Student success” with “state investment”, but doesn’t put forth any evidence that they are associated. We read this same article month after month, year after year from group after group – but I don’t think they ever show any cause and effect.

“..school districts across the state have shortened the school year, increased class size, reduced the number of teachers, or cut teacher pay…”. This is a fact.

At the same time, SAT scores were up this year – with GA’s participation rate being 81% compared to a national participation rate of 31%. Georgia’s achievement gap between black and white students is far less than the national average. These are facts.

State investment down – performance up. Too much money has been mindlessly been thrown at public education without any accountability to performance. In recent years, there has been an emphasis on performance (poor performing teachers are at more risk of being cut (North Atlanta?)), scores have remained steady or even trended slightly upward. If you would have asked any educrat 5 years ago what would happen to performance, if the drastic cuts that have actually been made had been made – they would universally predict that scores would tank and it would be chaos. Hasn’t happened.

tomindecatur

October 15th, 2012
7:54 am

Educational spending nationally has vastly exceeded the rate of inflation. The number of students per instructor has dropped from 22 point something to 15 point something. In spite of the great mounds of money expended on education, graduation rates and test scores have not improved one iota…..as in zero, zip, zilch, nada. Yet somehow you persist in pleading for more money because this time it will be different. This time it will make a difference, This time schools will improve. This time students will be better educated. This time the money will be wisely spent. This time…..this time…..this time……..sorry but that dog won’t hunt. If more money could and would make a difference, then there would be the results to back it up. There aren’t.

cris

October 15th, 2012
8:08 am

Pretty accurate BUT nothing will happen unless voters begin to demand reasonable investment in public education from legislators BUT legislators are too busy trying to distract voters by running the latest shell game of charter schools and it’s working! Doing everything I can (on my own time and dime, of course) to make the people around me aware of what ammendment 1 is really all about – so afraid it will pass – not because it’s what the people want, but because it “sounds” like a good thing.

Truth in Moderation

October 15th, 2012
8:10 am

The real answer is decentralizing education through home schooling. This restores a true free market education and defunds the corruptocrats, who have gradually taken over once “public” schools and have now run them into the ground; they have lined their own pockets and dumbed down the students. Parents must rise up and take back their children, money, and country. The hour is late.

BT

October 15th, 2012
8:27 am

Dont forget about the amendment pending to fund state charter schools in November. If it passes, it will be equally as devestating to education funding as well.

Virginia Galloway

October 15th, 2012
8:34 am

More money for schools – surely you jest. While Gwinnett County lays off teachers, they give $170K in School Board funds to Gwinnett Chamber and pay Wilbanks a princely sum.

indigo

October 15th, 2012
8:36 am

And yet, County Comissioners sit of their fat rear ends making huge salaries while property taxes just keep going up.

Bob

October 15th, 2012
8:37 am

Maybe we can add a per student fee across the board to be paid by the parent/parents. Property taxes are high enough now so going there will not work.

Old timer

October 15th, 2012
8:56 am

Nothing will change in educating our youth till parents step up and support education. Send your children to school ready to learn, do homework, insist they behave. And help out if you can. Insist they read, eat healthy meals, and get outside and play. This is what the parents of successful students do.

MM

October 15th, 2012
9:02 am

Just check how much is spent in administrative costs in all schools….local supplements……There is a lot of money being wasted ….

Really amazed

October 15th, 2012
9:11 am

SAT score up in GA. Remember more students in GA can now opt out of taking SAT/ ACT. They can now take what is called COMPASS test for trade tech colleges. I wonder what the percentile is for students taking COMPASS was last year. Score went up for SAT but remember if everyone isn’t taking it scores will look better. Just a few years ago ALL had to take either SAT/ACT score would look worse if this were the case. Students opting for COMPASS that wouldn’t have normally done well on SAT/ACT will make averages score look better. Please don’t be mislead. It is just amazing how Georgia DOE doesn’t explain the whole story to the public.

Lynn43

October 15th, 2012
9:22 am

So many opinions from so many who have no knowledge about how “school” works. These are the same people who if a child gained a few pounds from eating dumpster food, would say they don’t need to be given any help in getting really good food. And these are the same “kinds” of folk who are making education legislation except for getting instructions from ALEC. How many children from the ghetto or trailer parks are going to get this “cure-all special education” if Amendment 1 passes? NONE, because these schools will find a way to keep them out. Can’t have “those” children sitting side by side with my little angel in my taxpayer funded private school. I am one who loses sleep worrying about these children.

PSP

October 15th, 2012
9:30 am

No, you do not get what you pay for Farnsworth!! Public schools have received increased funding from the 1970’s forward but test scores and student graduation rates have not improved. Parents who actually care send their kids to private schools while continuing to pay for the “baby sitting” public schools. Not sure how that gets you what you pay for.

williebkind

October 15th, 2012
9:32 am

Make education voluntary and take government out of it.

[...] GBPI Taifa Butler is featured in AJC op-ed about GBPI’s education survey report results.  Read full article here. [...]

Bob

October 15th, 2012
9:38 am

Lynn, read the post from old timer, it is spot on. Do not confuse being poor with being a poor parent. Many poor people make great parents and their kids do fine. Many parents are lazy uncaring parents and people like myself do not want my kid sitting side by side with their kids. Don’t confuse poverty with a culture that puts education last. Most Americans want to provide their kids with things some of the parents did not have like a better K – 12 education or sending them to college. We spend more on public education ever yet some parents use that system for babysitting.

bubba

October 15th, 2012
9:57 am

Lynn,
Given that you are posting at 9:22 am, it sounds like you aren’t a teacher – therefore your knowledge about how “school” works hasmore likely come about as someone who is a helicopter parent – fretting about trivial things like school board members not responding to your every email and whining that children get breaks from school every month (ala balanced calendars).

Your knowledge of how charter “schools” work is certainly off the mark. Many of the charters are comprised almost exclusively of economically “poor” families seeking better educations (taxpayer funded private schools in your whining lingo) for their children.

You state that if Amendment 1 passes the number of economically poor who will be allowed to attend is “NONE”. This is an absolute lie – and anyone reading your drivel should have an understanding of facts versus whining.

Chicagojeff

October 15th, 2012
10:10 am

Here’s a simple solution. Pass a requirement that all elected officials must send their children to public schools. When you have skin in the game.. it’s no longer a game.

Just A Teacher

October 15th, 2012
10:19 am

State leaders set ambitious goals to improve the quality of the workforce and made strengthening public education a central strategy to achieve these objectives. Teachers and school districts have been working to improve learning and ensure that students meet rigorous state-established achievement goals, but just as the state is expecting more from students and educators, it is investing less.

There is a simple truth in this world that many Georgians (especially those serving in the legislature) don’t believe applies to education: you get what you pay for. You won’t get a new Lexus for the same price as a used Ford. If Georgia is serious about improving its schools, it is going to have to increase funding for them. Otherwise there’s just a bunch of hot air coming out of the capital. Money talks and bullsh*t walks.

Streetracer

October 15th, 2012
10:23 am

We have been throwing money at education for the last several decades. Have outcomes improved?

Point is that the three factors that determine educational outcome are parental expectation, student desire (which is a function of expectations), and student work ethic. No matter how much we spend on improved physical plant, or learning materials, or computers, or whatever, the outcome will be no better until parents expect better of their kids, and kids develop a better work ethic.

bubba

October 15th, 2012
10:23 am

Re: Just a Teacher’s Simple Truth:

- Congratulations on taking the time in the middle of the school day to whine on a blog
- I think you got it wrong, we didn’t get what we were paying for in the past – when we were paying 30% more for public schools a few years ago – and getting the same or lower test scores; AYP performance; etc. -

DeKalb Inside Out

October 15th, 2012
10:30 am

Question: Is it possible that most of the increase in educational spending has gone to special needs children?

Looking at Georgia Q.B.E Funding, ESOL (English for Speakers of Others Languages) students get 2.5 times as much funding as a normal high school student. Special Ed students get as much as 5.8 times as much funding.

3schoolkids

October 15th, 2012
10:32 am

Go volunteer in your local public school (not just for a day or two) and you will see the impact firsthand. Think of all we could accomplish if our legislators hadn’t pit the pro and anti amendment groups against each other. If all the time and money being spent were aimed at individual schools in need, local public and charter alike, we could accomplish so much!

For all those who think our schools must be hunky dory with all that funding, go to the AYP reports and do some research. Don’t just focus on one number, dig deep, look at all the results. There are great traditional public schools in this state and great charter schools in this state, but there are also many of both in need of additional resources (human and financial). The curriculum changes, assessment modeling and recent changes to Grad requirements are putting even more stress on a system that was already having difficulty serving everyone. We are the only state in the country that instructs more secondary students (9-12) than elementary (k-8)! That means we have a boatload of students for future employment, but none of that matters if we don’t succeed in educating them.

Lynn43

October 15th, 2012
10:43 am

Bubba, How off the mark you are. I hope you get a good laugh from your characterization of me. All the way from being a student, a teacher for over 30 years, and now school board chair, I have spent every waking moment for 66 years being concerned for public schools. Even when other things were at the front, concern for all the students has always been there. I have also spent over 3 years dealing with these for-profit charter school charlatans and their lies and deceit. Maybe not all are like the ones I’ve dealt with, but they do corrupt the image of all of them. I, also, have e-mails from some of those helicopter moms of which you spoke, urging me to separate their children from “those” children. Knowing where these people live, they can well afford a private school if so much wasn’t spent of house square footage. No transportation, no lunchroom, uniforms, lottery favorable to siblings, hiring no special education teachers. This is a way to exclude “those” children. Bubba, I’ve been in the middle of education for a long time, and you are right that parents that don’t care are a big problem. But many times, it was these parents’ children that cared the most about the subject I taught. My success as a teacher has been documented, and many students have followed in my steps. I will continue to work to make every child’s educational experience valuable to them and the teachers who teach them.

Michele

October 15th, 2012
10:47 am

As long as the “good old boy” syndrome remains in Georgia, we will never have a legislator worth its salt. Individuals get reelected and elected based upon favors for voters. We need true representation in our legislative branches. Today, partisan politics is killing the entire state, not just education. When the state realizes that there is no representation of the true sense in Georgia, this state will continue to fall, and its students will fail their entire lives. Georgia should be ashamed of its ratings in education in America!

Michele

October 15th, 2012
10:59 am

Lynn43: I am right there with you, Lynn. I am in the same boat as you. I taught for 20 years in middle school following 20 years in the military. I spent every waking hour concerned about my students and their performance and future. Like you, my success is documented by the number of my students who are now in enviable positions in our society, many of them teachers in the subject I taught. I know that I inspired my students through the way I taught. In my 20 years, I, not once, taught the test. I never did a CRCT review with my students. I never gave CRCT practice tests. Why? Because I TAUGHT THE MATERIAL in a manner that best fit me and my particular students at the time. I did not accept the “cookie cutter” trend in education. I taught directly based upon what I saw in my students, and I always stretched their developing minds to the limit. I lived in my own flexible education environment and taught the way I thought would be the most productive. As a result, I became one of the most frequently requested teacher in my school. I retired, because of the trend towards “one size fits all” education. Now, I continue to correspond with our legislators in my efforts to correct all I see wrong in our educational support of the students of the state. They desperately need support or their lives will be negatively impacted by the changes that are taking place. My hat will always be off to all teachers, for they truly determine the future.

Lynn, I hope you are proud of your impact on your students! You should be!

Bill Mackinnon

October 15th, 2012
10:59 am

Given that the Georgia legislature has been squeezing education, it makes no sense for them to take even more money through a State Charter School Commission. Regardless of who sends their kids to the school, each child represents money the public school in that neighborhood won’t receive. It is up to the local school boards, accountable to their constituencies to use the moneys they have well. I believe APS is spending considerably more now per student than they did 10 years ago, and there are fewer students. They need to be held accountable.
BTW, My daughter took piano lessons from 6 years old until she was a freshman at North Atlanta. She participated in a recital at the school along with 14 others. The last black young to play was dressed in a nice suit. He made mistakes and was clearly crestfallen at his performance. He had a lot of courage and fortitude. Afterward, as we were having punch and cookies, he asked to borrow my phone to call his Mother. As I gave it to him, I was thinking how awful it was he had no family to watch. Uninvolved parents, I thought. I felt bad for him and upset at the parents. I said nothing. Later at a celebratory dinner with my daughter, my phone rang. It was this young man’s Mother, calling to him to arrange to pick him up. During the brief conversation, she said she had just gotten off work. A HUGE, HUMBLING lesson learned for me. We are never too old to learn. Parents who don’t show up at the school are not all uncaring about their kids. Outreach from the schools to the parents is absolutely crucial, an effort that should never stop and the State should earmark money for this.

Lexi

October 15th, 2012
10:59 am

From the October 8, 2012 Wall Street Journal:

” Let’s hope state and local officials have that discretion—and choose to shrink the teacher labor force rather than expand it. Hiring hundreds of thousands of additional teachers won’t improve student achievement. It will bankrupt state and local governments, whose finances are already buckling under bloated payrolls with overly generous and grossly underfunded pension and health benefits.

“For decades we have tried to boost academic outcomes by hiring more teachers, and we have essentially nothing to show for it. In 1970, public schools employed 2.06 million teachers, or one for every 22.3 students, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s Digest of Education Statistics. In 2012, we have 3.27 million teachers, one for every 15.2 students.

“Yet math and reading scores for 17-year-olds have remained virtually unchanged since 1970, according to the U.S. Department of Education’s National Assessment of Educational Progress. The federal estimate of high-school graduation rates also shows no progress (with about 75% of students completing high school then and now). Unless the next teacher-hiring binge produces something that the last several couldn’t, there is no reason to expect it to contribute to student outcomes.

“Most people expect that more individualized attention from teachers should help students learn. The problem is that expanding the number of hires means dipping deeper into the potential teacher labor pool. That means additional teachers are likely to be weaker than current ones.

“Parents like the idea of smaller class sizes in the same way that people like the idea of having a personal chef. Parents imagine that their kids will have one of the Iron Chefs. But when you have to hire almost 3.3 million chefs, you’re liable to end up with something closer to the fry-guy from the local burger joint.

“There is also a trade-off between the number of teachers we have and the salary we can offer to attract better-quality people. As the teacher force has grown by almost 50% over the past four decades, average salaries for teachers (adjusted for inflation) have grown only 11%, the Department of Education reports.”

So, on average (admittedly using statistics for the entire US), over the last 40 years there are 50% more teachers being paid 11% more, and budgets for public education are being “slashed” we are to believe? And outcomes are flat for that radically increased “investment.” All we need is still more “investment” to improve those outcomes. Right.

bubba

October 15th, 2012
11:00 am

Lynn,

“Maybe not all are like the ones I’ve dealt with, but they do corrupt the image of all of them.”

- You are wrong. YOU corrupt all of them, with your simplistic statements – and fear of losing control to others.

Batgirl

October 15th, 2012
11:05 am

For those of you who are critical of teachers posting during the school day, let me remind you that most of us have at least a little planning time. Sometimes we use a little of that time to unwind and do crazy things like read news articles, and occasionally we feel compelled to add our thoughts on a subject. It’s allowed and is not much different than someone in a private business office using their two fifteen minute breaks or lunch hour to do the same thing.

@ChicagoJeff, I agree.

Private Citizen

October 15th, 2012
11:38 am

@ Tomindecatur, “Educational spending nationally has vastly exceeded the rate of inflation.”

It tracks with the increase in health care cost, eh? You bring up an interesting point. Can anyone go a little deeper and try and figure out why education spending is so substantial and yet school house are in ill repair, literally as one NAHA parent indicated, there are practically no new textbooks and the ones left are from a prior era, dog eared, incomplete sets and out of date? And I don’t know about you, but having a master’s degree and 50k in university debt, and working 70 hours / week for $42k/year is not a great deal for teachers. They might work 50 hours / week if they had course materials / supplies. I have a friend, 10 years experience, $42k/year salary and the roof is bad on his house. He can’t afford to pay to have it replaced and does not have time to do it himself. You think the bad teachers get rooted out and the good stay? I think the teachers who stay in the current situation are the ones who have enough physical strength to manage the circumstances, or else live in a rental so they have no home concerns. There literally is not enough energy left over for home concerns. Rent and live like you’re in a barracks and you might make it.

USA is widely cited as spend a big amount of schools. Meanwhile, the conditions in the school house are deprived. For many classes, teaching materials = use the internet. It would be nice to have some information on “where the money goes.” Pie chart? Percentages? Years ago a researched from Wisconsin got a law passed that mandated a certain percentage of total funds to be applied to “in the classroom” meaning teachers, furniture, supplies. Maybe it was 70% of total spending. Wherever this law was applied, it changed a lot of things.

using Google, I see this from Kansas “state law was to get 65 percent of education dollars into classrooms”

Again, from Kansas, “administration maintains that school districts aren’t spending 65 percent of state aid on classroom instruction as required by law”
_________

Search term “Wasteful Spending in Public Education” It’s a big topic. If USA has universal healthcare, this would help. It additional to salary and Georgia teachers paying for private insurance healthcare policy, the state supplements payment for each health care policy by about $400./month more than the teacher is paying. This money is paid to the health insurance company. The teacher is not informed the total cost of their coverage, the teacher is told a price as if they are buying the policy/ coverage for that price and there can still be big co-pays when the policy is actually used for services. Additionally, then, teachers have health care coverage and many students and families do not. More caste system. It is like there are three castes: students / families without health coverage, teachers with health coverage, and high level managers with 2-6x the rate of pay the teachers make + a whole different set of rules and emphasis that are no necessarilly disclosed to the lower castes, aside from prepared political-speak with lots of jargon.

A lot of money is spent. Where does the money go? For the classroom worker (i.e. teacher) the money does not go there. Teachers get something like $100. at the start of the school year for materials. When you don’t use textbooks, the $100. is kind of a joke. It might cover you for the first week.

MAY

October 15th, 2012
11:47 am

I’ve read in other comment threads, examples of how much money per tax dollar given to school systems is spent on actual instruction. Maureen, do you know where to get that? It would be interesting to know if our school boards have made decisions that lead to more dollars being spent on instruction or administration. I’m just not sure where to find that information.

Private Citizen

October 15th, 2012
11:54 am

@Streetracer, I think sequential curriculum mapping and support materials is what is missing. Imagine if you were hired as a car mechanic and then told to go over to AutoZone and get your own tools and buy an air compressor, too. Here’s $100. Now go buy your own tools and come back here and do the brake jobs and a transmission rebuild. By the way, we’re going to evaluate the quality of your work and ten people with clipboards will be here tomorrow to rate how you do. Better stay late tonight and do some extra work. It’s okay, though. AutoZone is open until 10pm and they have the specialized tools you need. Hustle, dude. Bring it on. Let’s see what you’ve got.

Private Citizen

October 15th, 2012
12:05 pm

@bootney, I’m surprised at you. No one is assured to “get what you pay for.” I once paid a shop $1500. to fix/rebuild the engine on a work truck. I was so naive, I thought it was like going to the grocery store and I would pick up the truck like picking up groceries. The shop took my $1500. and the engine lasted maybe a week.

Looking for the truth

October 15th, 2012
1:00 pm

When reporters and bloggers talk about the student/teacher ratio being 15 point something to one, you need to know that that is based on dividing the number of students by the total number of certified personnel in the building. One school in my neighborhood has 2400 students and approximately 65 grade level teachers. This works out to be 37:1. But when you take in administrators, PE, music, art and foreign language teachers, the number drops to 26.6:1. Add in the administrators and counselors (who have to be certified in Georgia), your number drops to 21.8:1. The special area teachers, administrators and counselors are included in the calculation, but DO NOT TEACH. Let’s get real about how many kids are in our classrooms and quit focusing on false numbers.

Looking for the truth

October 15th, 2012
1:00 pm

No insult to PE teachers intended in my earlier post. The 37:1 calculation came from core subject areas only.

ChartersStarter, Too

October 15th, 2012
2:54 pm

Dr. Spinks, you took the words right out of my mouth! I agree that state funding has decreased, but someone, ANYONE needs to review SPENDING by local school districts. Then do a comparison of efficiencies and how much is really trickling down to the classrooms. The decisions re: class size, furloughs, # school days, etc. are ALL local decisions made based on how well they manage the funds they have. As I’ve said before, if a charter can operate on $6000 a pupil or less (albeit, it’s tough), then a school district with economies of scale and access to capital dollars certainly should.

ChartersStarter, Too

October 15th, 2012
2:59 pm

@ d – It is tough right now, I know. Here’s what I challenge you to do before you blame the state…go to Open.georgia.gov and look at salaries, number of personnel, and expenditures in your district. Take 2 hours and pour through it. I think you would be surprised a the decisions your local district is making with the money they DO have. Then get involved – go to your local board meetings and listen and speak out on budget items. Make your voice, as an educator, HEARD. These decisions about what trickles to your classroom and the impacts are almost always because of fiscal management and board oversight by the locals, not the state.

ChartersStarter, Too

October 15th, 2012
3:05 pm

@ Lynn43 – how is it that start up charters serve 50% economically disadvantaged and 50% minority kids. What evidence do you have that charters don’t serve at-risk kids? You like to spew nonsense about “private” schools that are publicly funded, but the data shows just the opposite. Your comments, therefore, are not credible – just he usual propaganda.

Bill & Ed's Excellent Adventure

October 15th, 2012
3:08 pm

@Bubba you know what would be great…if a school board member would respond to ANY of my emails.

ChartersStarter, Too

October 15th, 2012
3:13 pm

@ DeKalb Inside and Out – I understand where you are going, but then you make the assumption that we now have more SPED students qualified than in the past, which would not make any sense – what would cause that? SPED numbers have actually declined in recent years due to federal mandates and now RTI.

What WOULD make sense is to look at how many kids qualify for SPED and where the “pockets’ are for low and high density populations. Running some numbers the other day, I found that a number of the rural and urban districts have exceptionally high SPED rates, driving the state’s average up to about 10%. It may behoove someone from the state to go do a look-see on how these students ware qualified. Because there if funding attached to qualifying, there is motivation for having higher numbers.

Now, in saying all that, SPED students (many) DO have additional costs (i.e., lower teacher:student ratios, equipment, testing, etc.) for serving appropriately, so I do not want that to be understated. Do know, though, that there is a state pool for very low incidence kids that cost in excess of about $25,0000 so that districts don’t go broke AND there is a state board rule that allows detracts to find an alternative setting if the district can’t meet a student’s needs.