Archive for the ‘Governor 2010’ Category

A superintendent looks at the “good old days” of school

I am trying to do better this year in posting interesting e-mails that I receive. This one just arrived in response to a statement I made earlier today about how many people overestimate the quality of Georgia schools in the past.

Dr. Jim Arnold, superintendent of the Pelham City Schools, said he wrote this piece a while back and wanted to share it with me. And I think it is worth sharing with the rest of you. With his permission:

By Jim Arnold

Occasionally time has a way of playing tricks on us.  I have heard, especially in recent years, comments and calls from teachers, parents, grandparents and yes, superintendents for a “return to the good old days” in education.  Before nodding my affirmation of a need to return to what we imagine are the “good old days” let’s look at just how good those days actually were.

If we talk about the good old days when reading and writing and ‘rithmatic were king, then we also must bring into the discussion the social ills of …

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School funding: Not as good as Deal says, but not as bad as it could be.

I have been chatting with educators about the budget presented Wednesday by Gov. Nathan Deal, a budget that Deal says puts an end teacher furloughs and ensures a full school year for kids.

Here is the best summation: The budget is not as bad as many educators thought it would be, but it is not as good as the governor said. While Deal certainly left the impression that there would be no further need for furloughs or reduced school years, that will not be the case unless districts have pots of money hidden in the rafters.

And here is why: The $1.1 billion austerity cut enacted by Gov. Perdue was not restored, so systems can expect only about 80 percent of the state funding that they should be earning under the funding formula.

On top of that, Deal’s budget slashes transportation and cuts school nurses by 10 percent. It also eliminates funding for education technology centers, under the idea that those centers should be funding themselves now through fee- for-service …

Continue reading School funding: Not as good as Deal says, but not as bad as it could be. »

Here’s Deal’s speech: End furloughs, preserve school year.

Here is a large chunk of Gov. Deal’s State of the State speech that he just delivered at the Gold Dome:

The address I deliver today is historically referred to as the State of the State. It is designed to convey my assessment of the condition of our State and its people with special emphasis on the budgets I present for your deliberation. With regard to our State and its citizens, I concur in the description found in the 1885 publication entitled The Commonwealth of Georgia, prepared under the direction of Georgia’s second Commissioner of Agriculture, J.T. Henderson, which poses the following question:

”In general productiveness, in salubrity of climate, in the incomparable blessing of good water, in facilities of transportation, in educational advantages, in the moral tone of her people, and the almost unbroken good order of society, what State of our day and generation can justly claim a happier condition or a higher civilization?”

Gov.Nathan Deal says he will end teacher furloughs and keep kids in school for a full year.

Gov.Nathan Deal says he will end …

Continue reading Here’s Deal’s speech: End furloughs, preserve school year. »

Nathan Deal: Give it up for teachers. (Applause, not money.)

Nathan Deal in State of the State just now: He vowed to end teacher furloughs and pledged to keep HOPE solvent, but did not detail how he would do so, saying the General Assembly has to come up a solution.

In his closing, Deal extended an olive branch to disgruntled teachers who are facing greater accountability for student performance at the same time they are seeing salary cuts through furloughs, saying:

I also know this period has been particularly challenging for state employees and teachers. Everyone from  teachers to police officers has been asked to do more with less and they have delivered. To all members of our state team, thank you for putting in the extra effort and extra hours. And thank you for refusing to make excuses. These are tough times, but the state of our state is strong.

– From Maureen Downey, AJC Get Schooled blog

Continue reading Nathan Deal: Give it up for teachers. (Applause, not money.) »

State recognizes 17 schools for gains and achievement

In its annual Single Statewide Accountability System awards, the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement recognizes  schools for greatest gains on the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests or the Georgia High School Graduation Tests and for highest performance, which entails the highest achievement on the CRCT or GHSGT

Seventeen Georgia schools earned the unique distinction this year of being recognized for both greatest gains and highest performance. Congratulations to all the schools and their staffs for this achievement:

  • Bremen High School, Bremen City Schools
  • Buford Elementary School, Buford City Schools
  • Decatur High School, Decatur City Schools
  • DeKalb School of the Arts, DeKalb County Schools
  • Early College Academy of Columbus, Muscogee County Schools
  • Early College High School at Carver, Atlanta Public Schools
  • Glenwood Primary School, Floyd County Schools
  • Greenbrier Middle School, Columbia County Schools
  • Houston County Career and Technology Center, Houston …

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Legislature can’t ignore the HOPE crisis any longer

The cost of graduating a Georgia college will be higher if HOPE is reduced.

The cost of graduating a Georgia college will be higher if HOPE is reduced.

With the HOPE scholarship bleeding money, the Legislature only has two choices to save the popular program. It can either slash the number of HOPE recipients or the amount that each student receives.

Neither will be politically popular, which explains why lawmakers long ignored the gathering storm clouds over HOPE until the winds nearly blew off the roof of the Capitol.

As early as 2003, legislators were warned that the Georgia Lottery would have a hard time keeping up with the two education programs it supports, HOPE and universal pre-k. This fiscal year, the lottery will be short $243 million. By 2012, the shortfall grows to $317 million.

Seven years ago, the state assembled a commission that made recommendations for deep cuts to HOPE, but a better-than-expected haul in lottery proceeds convinced lawmakers that the state could afford to wait to eviscerate HOPE.

So while the 2004 Legislature …

Continue reading Legislature can’t ignore the HOPE crisis any longer »

Deal’s young hotshots: Erin Hames lands a key role

Erin Hames will now advise Gov.-elect Nathan Deal.

Erin Hames will now advise Gov.-elect Nathan Deal.

When the AJC met two weeks ago with the Department of Education leadership team about Race to the Top, Erin Hames led the discussion, which was interesting as incoming school chief John Barge was not keeping her at the agency.

Hames had joined DOE earlier this year to help oversee RTTT after serving as Gov. Sonny Perdue’s policy director.

At the meeting, current school chief Brad Bryant, who is staying at DOE as legal counsel, said he hoped DOE  could find a spot for Hames because of her critical role in crafting and winning Georgia’s $400 million RTTT grant.

For the record, I thought it was crazy to let Hames go as she is the state’s authority on RTTT, and it seemed counterproductive and costly to send all that background and knowledge out the door. She also knows all the players in Washington, which is important as this four-year grant will require ongoing contact with the U.S. DOE and Arne Duncan.

But Hames, a …

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Can schools pay their bills with more flexibility?

One of the most pungent commenters on education issues in the state is former Henry County superintendent Herb Garrett, who is now executive director of the Georgia School Superintendents Association

In response to the prospect of more school cuts and the pledge of Gov.-elect Nathan Deal to grant schools more flexibility rather than more money, Garret said, “We’ve been getting some flexibility now for several years and Georgia Power just won’t accept flexibility as payment for electric bills.”

The relentless cuts to education come at a time when the state and feds are making unprecedented demands on schools to educate more students to higher standards. Can those goals be met with the larger class sizes and diminished resources that have resulted from the deep cuts to education spending in Georgia?

That is the question facing our schools today. And it has a new urgency now that Deal says state finances are so bad that he predicts even deeper cuts to education.

Here is the …

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Answers may finally come in ongoing CRCT cheating probe

In an update to the earlier CRCT investigation story, the AJC is now reporting that Mike Bowers and Bob Wilson were appointed special assistant district attorneys in Fulton County today, signaling that criminal prosecutions are coming.

Both former prosecutors, Bowers and Wilson were appointed by the governor in August to jump-start the probe into CRCT cheating by Atlanta and Dougherty County schools. A frustrated Sonny Perdue felt that the two systems did not do a thorough job in their own internal investigations into why their classrooms led the state in the number of wrong to right erasures on the 2009 CRCT.

Both districts had rates that far exceeded the Georgia average and had multiple classrooms flagged by a state audit. The questions that remain unresolved: Who cheated, how and was it systematic?

Hopefully, a grand jury will get some answers.

According to the AJC, which spoke this morning to Fulton DA Paul Howard:

Bowers and Wilson, appointed in August by Gov. Sonny …

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Perdue’s probe obtains admissions of cheating on CRCT

APS staff members have either confessed to changing answers on the CRCT or watching others tamper with tests, according to a story in this morning’s AJC.

The admissions came from an investigation ordered by Gov. Perdue in August after internal probes by  Atlanta and Dougherty County school officials yielded no clear picture of how 2009 CRCT  answer sheets were changed or who did it.

However, it is unclear whether those staff members who confessed to tampering in any way are among the 108 employees that Atlanta schools  have already  referred to the state Professional Standards Commission for possible disciplinary action last August as result of their own investigation.

But the admissions will provide a clearer picture of how cheating occurred and how to stop it in the future. For the most part, the investigations by the schools themselves yielded no admissions. It is likely the presence of GBI agents influenced some people to come clean with what they knew.

I find this …

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