Archive for March, 2013

President of Agnes Scott and college trustee: Cutting aid to private college students will cost more than it saves

Here is a guest column on the planned cut to tuition assistance given by the state to Georgia students who attend private in-state colleges. The authors are Beth Holder, a trustee and alumna of Agnes Scott College, and Elizabeth Kiss, president of Agnes Scott.

According to the AJC:

House budget writers reduced the  Tuition Equalization Grant — money paid to all private college students — from $700 to $500. The subsidy program has been around for about 40 years and is meant to help private college students pay tuition.

The $6 million saved by reducing the grant would be plowed into the Technical College System of Georgia. Deal proposed a $24 million cut in technical college funding because of an enrollment drop at the schools. Technical colleges, like University System of Georgia schools, are funded largely based on enrollment.

The cut has alarmed private colleges, which contend that the money is often a factor in a student’s ability to enroll.

By Beth Holder and …

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Parent and Educator Empowerment Act moves from House to Senate. Teacher empowerment erodes along the way.

downeyart0726 (Medium)A Senate subcommittee takes up the parent trigger bill this morning at 8.

As the Parent and Educator Empowerment bill moved from the House to the Senate, one piece apparently was lost in the journey: Teacher power.

According to the legislative update posted by the Professional Association of Georgia Educators:

The official name of HB 123, formerly called the “Parent and Educator Empowerment Act” has been changed in a Senate substitute version to the “Parent Empowerment Act.”

HB 123 allows parents to vote to convert their school to charter status. An important portion of the bill which allows teachers to petition their school board to adopt a school turnaround model has been amended in the new substitute version to exclude teachers.

Since the bill has yet to be heard in subcommittee, the reasoning behind the changes is unclear. PAGE has deep concerns about the alterations. Our longstanding position regarding school turnaround and charter schools is that parents, students, and …

Continue reading Parent and Educator Empowerment Act moves from House to Senate. Teacher empowerment erodes along the way. »

Old school boards never die. They blog away. At least in DeKalb.

Old school boards never die. They just blog away.

Neither Nancy Jester, ousted by the governor, nor Don McChesney, ousted by voters, apparently believes that former DeKalb school board members should fade from view.

The two ex DeKalb board members remain vocal about the school district they once led. And both are using blogs to serve up their commentary.

In fact, Jester plans to live blog first meeting of the newly appointed board Wednesday. On her Nancy’s News site, she writes, “I’ll be hosting a live blog comment feed for tomorrow’s DeKalb Board meeting.  The meeting begins at 6pm and I’ll start the live comment feed around 550pm. ”

Jester goes on to tell her fans her latest plans:  In order to continue to advocate for you, I have partnered with the Georgia Charter Schools Association.  I am working as a consultant and strategist to advocate for charter schools and school choice.  I will also be working to develop a board bank of talented and trained citizens to serve …

Continue reading Old school boards never die. They blog away. At least in DeKalb. »

Reconstituted DeKalb school board will move to extract itself from lawsuit against state

The new reconstituted DeKalb Board of Education faces a busy first meeting Wednesday at 6. Among the action items on the agenda:

Termination of the DeKalb County School District’s status as a plaintiff in The DeKalb County School District, et al. vs. The Georgia State Board of Education, et al., Case No. 1:13-CV-0544, pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia, Atlanta Division.  Presented by: Mr. Marshall D. Orson, Board Representative, District #2

Rationale
Reduction in legal expenses.

Quick Summary / Abstract
Presented by: Mr. Marshall D. Orson, Board Representative, District #2

Details
Upon approval of this action item, the Superintendent is requested within 24 hours to instruct outside counsel to take appropriate steps to seek termination of the School District’s further status as plaintiff in the above-referenced lawsuit and any related litigation.

Financial Impact
Termination as plaintiff of the DeKalb County School District in …

Continue reading Reconstituted DeKalb school board will move to extract itself from lawsuit against state »

Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit

Adam Emerson is the director of the program on parental choice at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education policy think tank that recently released “School Choice Regulations: Red Tape or Red Herring?”

Adam Emerson

Adam Emerson

In this piece, Emerson urges more transparency in how Georgia’s controversial private school scholarship tax credit program works. In what he calls a “grand bargain,” Emerson proposes, “More transparency in exchange for more (or more generous) scholarships.”

By Adam Emerson

The Georgia Senate recently took an incremental step toward responsible and accountable private school choice by unanimously passing a bill that shines more sunlight upon the Peach State’s embattled tax credit scholarship program. If the House concurs, then parents and taxpayers will have more information about the students and the scholarship groups that participate.

But Senate Bill 243 doesn’t go far enough. Yes, it requires the nonprofit groups that administer the scholarships to …

Continue reading Make the Georgia Tax Credit Scholarship more transparent — and expand it so more children benefit »

Cheating or collaboration? Do students really not know the difference?

crcted.0920 (Medium)A reader sent me this note about cheating and asked that I put the issue before the Get Schooled blog readership:

I am wondering if you have done much on student cheating? I have read about teacher cheating but don’t remember anything on the student side of the equation.

Now that my child is in high school, I am amazed at what online resources are available at the click of the button. I am aware of an instance where a teacher used an online study guide as a test….most of the students used it (teacher was unaware it was public domain) and received 100 percent on the test.  Smart on the students’ part, I’d say yes. Lazy on the teacher’s part, I’d say yes.

I’ve had some discussions with parents. Teachers don’t change their test, and the students share what’s on the test with their classmates who have not taken yet taken it.

That is cheating. But the parents I’ve spoken to call it “collaboration” and see nothing wrong with it. Teachers are aware it goes on but say it is …

Continue reading Cheating or collaboration? Do students really not know the difference? »

DeKalb school board drama distilled down to two questions for state Supreme Court, which has six months to answer

The controversy surrounding Gov. Nathan Deal’s removal of six DeKalb Board of Education members has been distilled down to two constitutional questions and presented to the  state Supreme Court.

I hate to think of the chaos if the state’s highest court, which has six months to rule, invalidates the governor’s appointment of six new members.

The court sent out this notice today:

The DeKalb County school board case, in which many media have expressed an interest, has just been docketed in our court. Please see the attached order certifying the questions the federal judge is asking this court to answer.

This case will be handled by the Supreme Court of Georgia like any other. The court has up to two court terms from the time it’s filed here – which is about six months – to make a decision. If the parties request oral argument, this Court will hear the case, as opposed to considering the case based purely on the briefs.

The brief from the “appellant” – the DeKalb County …

Continue reading DeKalb school board drama distilled down to two questions for state Supreme Court, which has six months to answer »

State monies to help struggling districts going to Gwinnett, Clayton and Paulding. Many small-town systems get nothing. Why?

As many of you often point out on the blog, state equalization grants are not going to the presumed targets, poor rural districts, but to the mighty Gwinnett County Schools

And you always wonder why.

The AJC looked at the grants that are supposed to help struggling districts with weak tax bases in a Sunday story by AJC reporter James Salzer. The story explains how the grants are awarded, detailing a formula that benefits districts with booming enrollments and eroding property values. In other words: Gwinnett.

But an expert suggests that the calculus of the equalization grants needs to look beyond the property wealth-to-student ratio to personal wealth in a county, which would send more money to struggling south Georgia districts that may have stagnant enrollments but also have persistent poverty and historic school under funding.

Here is an excerpt of the news story: (See list of where grants are going.)

By James Salzer

Gov. Nathan Deal won praise in January when he announced …

Continue reading State monies to help struggling districts going to Gwinnett, Clayton and Paulding. Many small-town systems get nothing. Why? »

Griffin-Spalding teacher Lisa Miller: Coming home to teach

Lisa Baker

Lisa Miller of Moreland Road Elementary.

Here is another installment in UGA professor Peter Smagorinsky’s Great Georgia Teacher series. This essay focuses on Lisa Miller of Moreland Road Elementary School in the Griffin-Spalding County Schools.

By Peter Smagorinsky

The issue of safety in elementary schools has been a topic of national discussion since the tragic events at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Ct. Although opinions vary on how to achieve the goal of ensuring the safety of students, teachers, administrators, and others who occupy the building, everyone agrees on the need for schools to be safe places so that teachers and students can pursue the educational mission with focus and enthusiasm.

For kindergarten teacher Lisa Miller of Moreland Road Elementary School in the Griffin-Spalding County Schools, where she was named the system’s Teacher of the Year in 2009, a safe environment is of paramount importance. Not, however, in the sense that drives the national …

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Tea Party explains its opposition to Cobb education SPLOST vote on Tuesday

J.D. Van Brink is a Cobb County resident, businessman and chairman of the Georgia Tea Party, Inc.  In this essay, he explains the Tea Party’s opposition to the Cobb Education SPLOST IV referendum.

On Tuesday, Cobb taxpayers will decide whether to renew a 1 percent special sales tax.

The special purpose local option sales tax was created in 1996 as a way to fund capital projects. Of the 562 education tax referendums held statewide since 1996, 94 percent have been approved by voters, according to the AJC.

While Cobb’s first proposal for an education sales tax failed, the three campaigns since have been successful.  Cobb voters passed their last SPLOST in 2008 with 60 percent approval.

According to the AJC:

The Cobb and city of Marietta districts would use the projected $773 million collected from the special purpose local option sales tax, or SPLOST, for hundreds of projects including repairing or replacing dilapidated buildings and athletic facilities and constructing a …

Continue reading Tea Party explains its opposition to Cobb education SPLOST vote on Tuesday »