Lawmakers ignore their moral and constitutional duty to support public education

Here is an essay by Matt Jones, president of EmpowerED Georgia, a statewide education advocacy organization of students, citizens, parents and educators. He has taught world geography, civics, and English literature. He now teaches Engineering Technology at Toombs County High School in Lyons and is the Toombs County Teacher of the Year.

By Matt Jones

In a recent speech to the Marietta Council of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Georgia House Speaker David Ralston said that due to a $300 million shortfall in Medicaid, this upcoming session of the General Assembly would be “another year where you’re going to see budget cuts as opposed to adds.”

This means, unfortunately, that it is likely to be another year — the tenth consecutive — in which funding for Georgia’s public schools is less in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars than it was in FY 2002.

While most members of the General Assembly claim to support public education — and may actually believe that they do — the statistical evidence does not indicate even lukewarm support. In fact, the overall record of the Georgia General Assembly during the past decade indicates a greater willingness among many legislators to support alternatives to public schools than to support local public schools.

In the last decade, the actual per-student spending by the state has decreased by 25 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars—a total of $6.6 billion. The result: Two-thirds (121 out of 180) of Georgia school districts have had to shorten their school year and the number of classroom teachers has decreased by more than 4,000 while the number of students has grown by 37,000.

Most veteran members of the General Assembly claim that the recession beginning in 2008 left them with no choice except to cut public school spending, but that does not explain why K-12 programs have been reduced virtually every year since 2002. Nor does it explain how, under these dire budgetary restrictions, the General Assembly has miraculously been able to find funding for a private school tuition program and a new system of state charter schools.

If you ask your state representative or state senator whether he or she supports public education, it is almost a certainty that he or she will argue strongly in the affirmative and go on at length about the value of public education to our state.

Give public officials the opportunity to participate in a major school event where voters are present — or welcome local teachers and students to the state capitol—and they will generally fall all over themselves to smile, shake hands and praise the wonderful educators and students in their local schools.

The time has arrived when legislators must be held accountable for their votes on education issues and not be allowed to show support for public schools simply by posing for photos with school children and attending an occasional school event in their hometowns. No longer should legislators be allowed to give speeches at evening school meetings praising public education while voting during the day to cut public school budgets — especially when they are also voting to increase spending on alternatives to public schools.

It is certainly possible that most of our state legislators do value public education, but the day of truth has arrived. Given what Speaker Ralston recently said — that this is to be a year of budget cuts rather than increases — any legislator who votes to increase funding for programs such as Georgia’s private school tuition tax credits cannot claim to be a supporter of public education.

In past years, legislators who supported programs such as tuition tax credits, have claimed that the amount of money involved —$50 million— is just a drop in the bucket compared to the amount the state allocates for public schools, and therefore should not be viewed as a vote against public education. That excuse can no longer be accepted for two reasons.

1. Supporters of the program will continue to push for increased funding. (A bill will be introduced this session to double the tax credits allowed from $50 million to $100 million.)

2. The effects of more than a decade of reductions in state support for public schools have left many school systems in such dire financial conditions that a share of $100 million, or even $50 million, could make a major difference in their education programs. For example, in some south Georgia school systems, less than $1 million in additional funding could allow their schools to open for a full 180 days instead of the current abbreviated schedules.

This year’s session of the General Assembly will be a crucial one for public education and it will be a defining one for our legislators. With little or no additional revenue available for FY 2014, legislators have a clear choice. They can support efforts to provide additional funding for private school tax credits and other alternatives to public schools, or they can allocate that same amount of money to help rural public schools provide students with a full 180-day school year.

Any legislator who votes to provide state funds for private schools over public schools not only abandons their constitutional duty, but also their moral duty to provide the resources needed for every child to have a quality public education.

That is why in the upcoming session, EmpowerED Georgia will monitor how every legislator votes on every issue affecting public schools and let the public know which legislators support public schools in their actions as well as their words.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

65 comments Add your comment

Just putting it out there...

January 7th, 2013
5:20 am

Outstanding advocate for the education of ALL of Georgia’s students.

You might want to start with your own senator. Williams could be an advocate for Georgia’s kids. He has it in him. Perhaps now that he has shed the responsibility of carrying the party line, he can get down to looking after the children of Georgia.

Fred in DeKalb

January 7th, 2013
6:39 am

Insightful perspective shared by Mr. Jones. Local school districts have been doing more with less for over 10 years and as a result have made tough and unpopular decisions. Some decisions include reducing/freezing employee pay, furlough days, program cuts, increasing class sizes, closing/consolidating schools, and reducing the number of school days. One of the outcomes has been parents, schools and communities fighting one another for the dwindling resources. Some parents with financial means sue school systems to ensure their children resources and services (this happens frequently in DeKalb). School board members are left holding the shrinking bag of funds and get blamed for most that is going wrong while legislators get a pass.

n fairness, we should not forget the financial crisis that saw many homes lose their value resulting lower property tax revenues. Legislators allowing foreclosures to be factored into home valuations accelerated lower home values in many communities.

We should all look forward to the report card produced by EmpowerEd.

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
6:51 am

Re: The moral imperative

“In the last decade, the actual per-student spending by the state has decreased by 25 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars—a total of $6.6 billion.”

Even if we take this as true…

The result: Two-thirds (121 out of 180) of Georgia school districts have had to shorten their school year and the number of classroom teachers has decreased by more than 4,000 while the number of students has grown by 37,000.

@Matt Jones, have they “had” to do this, or have they chosen to? Because, despite this shortfall in funding, they’ve managed to spend $2100 on conference chairs, spend $40,000 to chase rumors (that a superintendent found embarrassing) found money to fund new central office positions and on, and on, and on…

@Matt Jones, the question arises, is there a moral obligation to fund The Four Horsemen of the Incompetence when they and the rest of their cohorts continually waste taxpayers’ money?

What I’d like to see asked is how a General Assembly of conservatives, who claim to hold as values “the rule of law” and “personal responsibility” have failed to pass any meaningful legislation that has a direct, tangible effect when it comes to empowering teachers to hold students accountable for following rules and being responsible for work?

This isn’t “cutting the budget” this is cutting teachers off at the knees. Why not, if these systems crave money, cut off money from those that steadfastly will not support teachers in matters of discipline?

Want to make a huge improvement in the schools in a heartbeat? Try this.

Survey every teacher, anonymously with these two questions.

1) Am I supported in matters of discipline?
2) Am I in an environment free of administrative retaliation?

If a school system cannot get 50% of its teachers to say those two essentials are in place, mandate that school system must cut every superintendent’s pay, and every deputy superintendent’s pay, by 30% the following year. Hold them accountable, in the same way they want to hold teachers accountable!

And when the Herb Garretts of the world start to whine “you won’t attract good people that way” respond with “You mean like the award winners you support like Beverly Hall? Thank you Herb, for giving us even more reason to put this in place.”

Now someone come on here and tell me any other law the General Assembly has passed in the last decade that would even come close to having the impact this would have if passed?

Lee

January 7th, 2013
6:57 am

{{{Yawn}}}

Another “we need mo money” piece by an educator.

“… funding for Georgia’s public schools is less in terms of inflation-adjusted dollars than it was in FY 2002.”

By all mean, use 2002, which was the apex of the business cycle. Why not go back to 1960? 1930? That might be an interesting study for the data geeks at AJC.

In an era where we pay librarians $79k and football coaches $96k, perhaps schools need to focus on the spending side? I say this as my daily commute takes me by three empty and abandoned schools and the $75+ million schools that replaced them.

“The time has arrived when legislators must be held accountable…”

The time has arrived when EDUCATORS must be held accountable for the SPENDING of our hard earned tax dollars.

There, fixed it for you…

teacher&mom

January 7th, 2013
7:04 am

I look forward to the report card.

I strongly suspect the legislators representing my district will vote pro vouchers, pro parent trigger, pro gun, while reducing the school budget even further.

I did not vote for either candidate.

But they talk a good spiel….”I promise to lower your taxes and cut waste” is all they have to say and the voters flock to the voting booth.

Unfortunately the voter has no idea what exactly will be cut.

But as long as they get a decent CRCT score in their child’s backpack, they can wipe away any nagging feelings about shorter school years or increased class sizes. Because the test score is “proof” that everything is OK.

Right???

And if a district’s test scores start to slip, you can always blame it on the administrators and teachers. In fact, the state will even give them a failing grade, cut or restrict their funding, approve a for-profit charter, and pat themselves on the back for “improving” education.

Fred in DeKalb

January 7th, 2013
7:05 am

Beverly Fraud, I agree with what you and Dr. Trotter has said about said about the lack of support teachers receive for disciplining students. I believe you also need to look deeper. How many lawsuits have been filed against schools because a parent perceived their child was not treated fairly? For privacy reasons, we won’t know the answer to this but I can assure you it happens far more frequently than most would admit. It can affect how policies are written with respect to handling behavior issues, i.e code of conduct policies. Usually only the most egregious cases go before a tribunal board. Many are settled quietly.

When you consider the time and resourcesit takes to effectively handle discipline cases, it results in many school districts kicking the can down the road. Do you want school districts to spend more on legal cases and tribunal boards or educating children? Remember we hear on blogs from those that want to cut the loopholes regarding discipline problems not from those that are taking advantage of the system.

Mary Elizabeth

January 7th, 2013
7:06 am

“. . .legislators have a clear choice. They can support efforts to provide additional funding for private school tax credits and other alternatives to public schools, or they can allocate that same amount of money to help rural public schools provide students with a full 180-day school year.

Any legislator who votes to provide state funds for private schools over public schools not only abandons their constitutional duty, but also their moral duty to provide the resources needed for every child to have a quality public education.

That is why in the upcoming session, EmpowerED Georgia will monitor how every legislator votes on every issue affecting public schools and let the public know which legislators support public schools in their actions as well as their words.”
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EXCELLENT article and excellent plan! I would urge EmpowerED Georgia not only to report the specific voting records of members of Georgia’s General Assembly regarding educational bills, but also to expose which of those members belong to ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council) such as do Rep. Edward Lindsey and Rep. Jan Jones, who both sponsored the Charter School Amendment. Rep. Lindsey will be sponsoring a Parent Trigger bill in this year’s legislative session. One of the purposed of ALEC has been, and remains, to “starve the beast of government” including dismantling traditional public education for a more private, for-profit model of education. The political tactic in accomplishing this long-ranged goal has been through influencing Republican-dominated state Legislatures across the nation. Knowledge is power.

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
7:07 am

If we hold the legislature accountable for anything start with why they haven’t held school systems accountable for empowering teachers to enforce “the rule of law” and “personal responsibility” two of the core values of the Republican Party?

The reason to start there is that all talk of money is taken off the table if you start there.

Maybe that’s why the educrats won’t start there; because if you aren’t willing to start there instead of with the money, don’t you automatically cede a lot of the “moral high ground”?

And when you are ceding the moral high ground to the Legislature, that’s saying something…

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
7:18 am

“When you consider the time and resourcesit takes to effectively handle discipline cases, it results in many school districts kicking the can down the road.”

I get this Fred, but look at the time and resources schools waste by not handling discipline.

This is where the legislature could kick in. They certainly didn’t mind passing limits on what recourse citizen have when it came to tort reform. Perhaps they need to pass legislation that allows systems to more effectively deal with discipline. That they won’t even have the conversation (when they will clearly have it with insurance companies, doctors’ groups etc.) is what the legislature needs to be held accountable for.

Yet by the same token, will GAE and PAGE hold their feet to the fire? Hardly. Will teachers continue to still give GAE and PAGE money? Of course. And as such, should teachers-despite all the bashing they get-be held accountable, at least in part, for being active co-creators in their own misery?

Yet what percentage of Georgia teachers even contemplate the question?

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
7:28 am

“One of the purposed of ALEC has been, and remains, to “starve the beast of government”…”

I’m no fan of ALEC Mary Elizabeth. But the question must be asked:

Perhaps, if they can’t feed appropriately; meaning feed so that they can in turn nourish children-if instead they feed off of $2100 office chairs, $40,000 to chase down rumors, untold thousands in bonuses to educational charlatans, consultant fees to educators who seemingly praise the likes of Chairman Mao! as “effective leaders”…can you not make the case that the The Four Horsemen of the Incompetence and others richly and rightly deserve to be starved, even if the average classroom teacher doesn’t?

Astropig

January 7th, 2013
7:31 am

When the greatest part of the money being spent gets to the classroom,when superintendents are not treated like rockstars or heads of state by fawning sycophants, when vice principals,directors of sustainability and area superintendents are eliminated.When good teachers demand that the bad ones leave.

I will believe that there is a real shortage of education funding. Till then, it’s all BS.

Teachers should make more money (good ones that is)

Fred in DeKalb

January 7th, 2013
7:34 am

Mary Elizabeth, thanks for reminding us to always look for a possible ALEC connection. The Sunday paper had an article about 2 legislators that had their ALEC conference fees paid for by a lobbyist. We also need to know the lobbyists that have ALEC ties so we can monitor their filings to see who they are trying to influence.

Isn’t it ironic that our state legislature is not subject to the same open records laws that school boards are (Sunday 1/6 AJC)? It would be interesting to see what we could find out.

Fred in DeKalb

January 7th, 2013
7:43 am

Beverly Fraud, but our legislature HAS kicked in. They have passed laws and policies that regretfully has taken away the ability for local schools to use COMMON SENSE in handling discipline issues. Surely you remember the famous ‘tweety bird’ case in Cobb County several years ago. Wasn’t that a result of a ZERO TOLERANCE policy that didn’t give the principal the flexibility for handling the case properly and using COMMON SENSE?

My point is that many of the laws and policies are community driven and lack the means for reasonable enforcement. Who is left holding the bag? Our schools and ultimately those closest to the children, teachers. If we could come up with an enforceable discipline policy that allows due process while taking the burden off of teachers, I believe everyone will support it.

mifted

January 7th, 2013
7:45 am

The issue with the critics in this blog is that they generalize to all school systems across the state. It just is not true that most school systems are flush with cash to buy expensive “extras”. Where there is a strong local tax base (APS, DEkalb), yes maybe that happens but for the 175 other counties in this state we are simply not funding school properly and they are struggling to make the basics happen. I challenge any of you to speak with a smaller district finance person and ask- “Where does the money go?” 85-90% of tax payer dollars provided to schools pay teachers. So the questions are- Do we pay teachers too much? or Do we have too many teachers? In these 175 districts the red herring of central office staff as the ills of this financial problem does not hold true either. Follow the money. Don’t speak out of ignorance.

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
7:47 am

Why, when we are talking about “supporting education”, we are always talking about money? If the State wants to keep students in the schools for 180 days, just don’t give any variances to that. The counties will just have to increase property taxes or find some other areas to cut rather than furlough teachers to balance their budgets. If the State wants a maximum class size of 30 students, then pass a law and enforce it. Again, it will be up to the counties to figure out how to implement it. State money is not necessary for education; most of the money for education comes from the local taxes (except for state-approved charter schools).

As someone else said, local leaders (and parents) need to decide if they want those highly paid administrators and their million-dollar offices, or do they want quality teachers and longer school years, and smaller class sizes. You parents are the ones allowing them to cut the school year and increase class sizes. Didn’t you just vote for BOE members?

Education is more than just dollars – why don’t you tackle discipline, social promotion. If you want to talk money, why don’t you address the siphoning of education dollars from “regular” students to SPED students.

If you look back to the 60’s, we spend nearly four times per student ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION compared to what we do now. Back then we spent about $400 per student, today it is nearly $10,000. And back then every student had a desk in a REAL brick and mortar building, rather than a tornado target “portable classroom” that has no toilet and is placed out in the yard where any crazy with a Bushmaster assault rifle can enter.

Private Citizen

January 7th, 2013
7:52 am

1. 60 Facts That Prove The American Middle Class is Being Wiped Out http://www.activistpost.com/2013/01/60-facts-that-prove-american-middle.html

2. No one is attending to teachers have teaching materials.

3. The state of Georgia signs onto “Race to the Top” and accepts a small portion of monies and then implements a system of over-testing students and over-evaluating teachers that costs far more money than the “stimulus” money received and called a “prize” that was “competed for” and “won.” The expensive to implement system is then installed with a mighty and thorough hand to every government K-12 school in the land. “Race to the Top” is like if I bought your house for ten dollars while you still live in it, and then I chased you around and hit you with a broom.

4. The federal agenda appears to be to create incoherence.

5. Meanwhile, certain Georgians hide from the realities, and instead use public monies to set membership based private academies posing as government schools. This meets the needs of the community elite while the regular kids and teachers do not have materials and / or textbooks. but the private or specialty government schools will have some materials and this will be featured in the uncritical press as “accomplishment.”

Wilbur

January 7th, 2013
7:54 am

This is not really an article about more money for education. It’s really a plea to prevent alternatives to the public school system. Budget realities at the state level are budget realities. Medicare spending continues to rise with no end in sight. If you think its bad now…just wait.
Also If you think that medicare/medicaid spending is not the primary competitor for tax dollars with education, you might need to have your degree repossessed.
I have a public school education. My kids were educated in the public schools. I doubt that my grandchildren will be. The broad congruence of values and aspirations for our kids has broken down and the public schools are increasingly unable to perform their function. A difficult situation is made worse by educrats who are out of touch with potentially sympathetic parents and who are desperate to preserve the status quo.

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
7:54 am

“In the last decade, the actual per-student spending by the state has decreased by 25 percent in inflation-adjusted dollars—a total of $6.6 billion.”

That is ONLY the STATE portion of education funding; most education funding is coming from the local tax level.

We are still spending FOUR TIMES as much per student as we did in the sixties EVEN ACCOUNTING FOR INFLATION. (I am shouting because even though I always put in that this is accounting for inflation, someone always brings up “yeah, but what about inflation”.)

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
7:59 am

“Get Schooled Lawmakers ignore their moral and constitutional duty to support public education”

Constitutional Duty? If I read the Georgia Constition correctly, it only says that the State has to gaurantee an “adequate” education. Is that correct? I don’t remember ANYTHING in the Constitution about the State PAYING for education, or funding at a certain level.

Michele

January 7th, 2013
8:00 am

Get a grip! Georgia lawmakers have absolutely no idea what MORAL is. All they are interested in is the “good ole boy” syndrome and personal gain. I am embarrassed to be called a Georgia resident.

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
8:05 am

In other news, “education leaders” are complaining the new evaluation system isn’t making enough scapegoats of teachers isn’t finding enough teachers unsatisfactory.

But from the AJC

“Training for evaluators was successful; however, the training for teachers lacked consistency.”

If the evaluators had “successful training” why are they not finding enough ineffective teachers? We just can’t bring ourselves to blame the educrats for anything can we?

@mifted, there is probably not as much sheer volume of waste in the smaller systems; but look at Bibb, Dougherty (sp?) and others, and I doubt you will consistently see the best interests of children in mind or an emphasis on good teaching/learning conditions.

jd

January 7th, 2013
8:06 am

@Mountain Man — Reading is fundamental — the Constitution says education shall be free to the student paid for by teaxes

ARTICLE VIII.

EDUCATION

SECTION I.

PUBLIC EDUCATION

Paragraph I. Public education; free public education prior to college or postsecondary level; support by taxation. 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. The expense of other public education shall be provided for in such manner and in such amount as may be provided by law.

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:07 am

“Georgia lawmakers have absolutely no idea what MORAL is.”

I am sure that Ga. Lawmakers, in their own mind, think that what they are doing is right, whether you and I disagree with them or not. Yes, they know (I hope) that education is important, but they also know that the recession has drastically knocked down their incoming revenue. What do you support cutting out to fund education? Close all the prisons and let the criminals go? Reduce the police and fire department services? Or do you just think that Georgia should increase their income tax from 6% to 7%?

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:10 am

“Public education for the citizens prior to the college or postsecondary level shall be free and shall be provided for by taxation.”

Does it specifically say that STATE taxes must be used for providing that free education? If so, why do counties bother. They could just cut out that part of their property taxes and just bill the State. There is more there than just the language.

Mary Elizabeth

January 7th, 2013
8:13 am

Beverly Fraud, 7:28 am

All schools that receive public tax dollars for educating Georgia’s students should be held financially accountable to the public. Traditional public schools, which serve the common good, must not be dismantled for a private-based educational model in which a cunning few would blatantly profit from public tax dollars.
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Fred in DeKalb, 7:34 am

Thank you for your informative remarks. Well said.

Fred in DeKalb

January 7th, 2013
8:14 am

mifted, I agree wholeheartedly with your comments! If you read the blogs, one would think the school systems in APS/Clayton/DeKalb are islands but they simply get more attention because that is the focus of the AJC and most of its readership. Every school district in the state is having fiscal challenges and made tough, unpopular decisions with respect to how to use their dwindling dollars.

If you wanted to give school employees a 3% increase every year while all other expenditures remained flat, you would need to 1-2% increase in the annual budget to support that. Given that budgets are decreasing, labor expenses have to hit the hardest because that is where one can have the greatest impact.

The question most should be asking with any new expenditure is ‘How will we pay for it and will we need to cut something to do this?’. As I mentioned earlier, DeKalb is witnessing communities fighting each other to protect their entitlements and resources. I’m sure this happens all over the state when tough decisions have to be made.

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
8:15 am

” If we could come up with an enforceable discipline policy that allows due process while taking the burden off of teachers, I believe everyone will support it.”

I don’t believe that Fred and here’s why:

PAGE does not make that a centerpiece of their lobbying efforts

GAE does not make that a centerpiece of their lobbying efforts

This of course allows the legislature to not make it a centerpiece of their education efforts, thus you get Tweety Bird stupidity even few years or so.

If the state had said “No thank you RTTT; our priority is restoring discipline and reducing paperwork burdens on teachers,” then I’d be more inclined to believe you.

But I don’t even see GAE and PAGE willing to engage in the conversation, or teachers willing to hold their feet to the fire by withholding dues until they do…

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:15 am

Georgia Code:

§ 20-2-490. Municipalities authorized to levy school taxes

Authority is given by the Constitution of Georgia to municipalities now authorized by law to operate independent school systems to maintain public schools in their respective limits by local taxation.

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
8:20 am

@Mary Elizabeth

“Traditional public schools, which serve the common good…”

DCSS is “serving the common good” by paying for Crawford’s Lewis defense of his RICO indictment while students are told to go home and glue their textbooks together?

If this was an anomaly fine, but it’s not ALEC might not be the answer, but public education has shown, time and time again, it is fundamentally unable to police itself.

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:22 am

From the Georgia Constitution: (you should always read the WHOLE thing)

SECTION VI.
LOCAL TAXATION FOR EDUCATION
Paragraph I. Local taxation for education . (a ) The board of education of each school system shall annually certify to its fiscal authority or authorities a school tax not greater than 20 mills per dollar for the support and maintenance of education. Said fiscal authority or authorities shall annually levy said tax upon the assessed value of all taxable property within the territory served by said school system , provided that the levy made by an area board of education, which levy shall not be greater than 20 mills per dollar, shall be in such amount and within such limits as may be prescribed by local law applicable thereto.

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
8:24 am

@Mary Elizabeth

“Traditional public schools, which serve the common good…

If you think ALEC is bad, what about Chairman Mao? Yet Fulton will pay consultants who seemingly praise no less than Chairman Mao!

Out by the Pond

January 7th, 2013
8:24 am

How will you keep the workers down in the Mill if you give them an education? What do we do now that all the Mills are closed? As long as our decision makers are stuck in the past Georgia will never move forward.

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:25 am

If someone can come up with a reference that the State is REQUIRED by its Constitution to fund local school systems, I would appreciate it if you would post it here.

(Note I said REQUIRED, and in the Constitution).

indigo

January 7th, 2013
8:27 am

“Lawmakers ignore their moral and Constitutional duty”.

Nothing new in this.

And, our two party system is a complete failure.

Only a third Party, completely free from Big Business ownership, will start to solve our problems.

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:29 am

“How will you keep the workers down in the Mill if you give them an education?”

I haven’t seen a lot of “let’s try to keep these people from getting an education”. What I HAVE seen is a lot of parents who don’t care and STUDENTS who don’t want an education, even though the school system is doing everything in their power to force-feed it to them.

Why not just teach the ones who value their education? Let the losers and future criminals opt out. They are just standing in the way of the others that want to learn. Maybe they can be taught in prison, though I doubt it.

williebkind

January 7th, 2013
8:33 am

“a greater willingness among many legislators to support alternatives to public schools than to support local public schools.”

Good. I am glad to hear this. Everytime school taxes go up my mortgage increases. I sure would love to live in my house a while longer.

[...] Lawmakers ignore their moral and constitutional duty to support public education Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog) Here is an essay by Matt Jones, president of EmpowerED Georgia, a statewide education advocacy organization of students, citizens,…  [...]

williebkind

January 7th, 2013
8:35 am

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:29 am

A very sensible argument that I have been saying far too long. Make education voluntary! That will have a huge impact and those who see how tough it is will go back to school later in life or receive some type of training. It can only happen if education is voluntary.

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:37 am

An interesting question: How many counties are up against their maximum 20 mill limit? And have the Constitutionally approved SPLOST in place. When the title of the article is:

Lawmakers ignore their moral and constitutional duty to support public education

I am guessing they should be talking about LOCAL lawmakers – County Commissioners and local BOEs – since THAT is where the money should be coming from. If they are not at their limit – it is THEIR issue.

If the problem is that the limit is too low, THEN it becomes a State lawmaker issue ( and a Constitutional amendment would have to be passed to icrease it).

red herring

January 7th, 2013
8:39 am

the public should have the right to set salaries for school administrators–also the public should control exactly how many administrators are needed. perhaps that would lower the tax burden. as far as spending less money on students now than 20 years ago—figures lie and liars figure. much more money is being spent on childrens education with no results to show for it. it is definitely time to change how the system operates and to bring the cost of education down to a level that taxpayers can afford.

Mountain Man

January 7th, 2013
8:46 am

“As long as our decision makers are stuck in the past Georgia will never move forward.”

Unfortunately, we are NOT in the past. If we returned to the policies of the sixties, we would probably be a lot better off ( not in terms of race, but other education issues).

Simmer Down

January 7th, 2013
8:53 am

If you took all the money collected by the state and the counties and the cities of Georgia and made it ALL available to public education it would not make a difference in graduation rates, the level of educated public in Georgia, the number of kids passing the standardized tests. The system itself is broken in public education. Where as I can agree that we as a society benifit from an educated populas I disagree that it has to come through a broken system that refuses to be fixed. I am all for continuing to give tax credits (make them even more) that allow students to seek a better alternative to public education. Where it may be our constitutional obligation to provide free public education it is our moral obligation to provide the best education possible. Public or otherwise.

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
9:03 am

Fulton County schools are in the process of paying consultants who praise Chairman Mao!

Fran Millar, are you aware that you have given Fulton County schools the “flexibility” to hire consultants who praise no less than Chairman Mao as “effective leaders”

And nobody out here (except Invisible Serf) sees this as an issue worth commenting on?

Don't Tread

January 7th, 2013
9:04 am

Lawmakers have been ignoring their moral and constitutional duties frequently in recent years. Is this any surprise?

Beverly Fraud

January 7th, 2013
9:28 am

Our “educational leaders” praise Beverly Hall, precious few see it as a problem with commenting on.

Our “educational leaders” use taxpayer funds for education consultants who praise Chairman Mao as an “effective leader” and not even that bothers people enough to raise a query?

Are we just that willfully ignorant?

suavez

January 7th, 2013
10:27 am

Sounds like Medicaid is the problem to me. Medicaid must stop paying women to have babies they can’t afford.

Dennis

January 7th, 2013
12:17 pm

Inspite of “Beverly Fraud’s” claptrap above, this article is dead center.

Additionally, not that the charter school “amendment” has passed, upcoming it the “Parent Trigger” (familiarize yourself with it) and soon we will have charter corporations knocking on the doors of Georgia parents wanting them to sign up and turn their local school into a charter school.

A part of the pitch will be that parents will control the school, but fact is (because money is the bottom line for the charter corporations, not the needs of school children) the parents will be shunted aside and the charter schools will be run by “corporate” principals.

In regard to “red herring’s” comment, above; “the public should have the right to set salaries for school administrators–also the public should control exactly how many administrators are needed. perhaps that would lower the tax burden.”, talk to the members of your local school board about this. They control the personnel budget.

Regarding a report card for Deal and the state legislature’s oversite of public education, they get a grade of “D”, and that’s being generous.

Dennis

January 7th, 2013
12:20 pm

My apology for a typo; “Additionally, not that the charter school “amendment” has passed,”

I meant to state “Additionally, NOW that the charter school “amendment” has passed.”

More Furloughs

January 7th, 2013
2:24 pm

All of this of course coincided with the complete Republican takeover of state government.

living in an outdated ed system

January 7th, 2013
2:54 pm

Matt’s comments are missing the point and are misleading. Funding is not the problem, and you can spin the data any way you want. What we need to do is to align funding with innovation and accountability, which has NOT been done effectively in the state of Georgia.

When you don’t optimize every dollar spent, then why should taxpayers see more of their dollars allocated to a failing system? We need to focus on allocation mechanisms and I believe that will be coming up in the next session.