Archive for the ‘State Department of Education’ Category

State names executive director of revived Charter Schools Commission — Bonnie Holliday

Bonnie Holliday is the new executive director of the state Charter Schools Commission, the agency resurrected by the November charter school amendment vote.

Bonnie Holliday

Bonnie Holliday

She had been with the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement.

Here is her bio from the GOSA site:

Bonnie Holliday was appointed Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement in October 2011. Prior to joining the GOSA team, she worked for the Office of Planning and Budget as the Accountability Manager for the Race to the Top Innovation Fund and for the Georgia Charter Schools Commission as the Program Manager for Accountability. She also worked previously for GOSA as the Planning and Policy Development Specialist where she coordinated the implementation and evaluation of the agency’s education policy initiatives.

Holliday received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Georgia. She is currently a doctoral candidate in UGA’s Educational …

Continue reading State names executive director of revived Charter Schools Commission — Bonnie Holliday »

Good question: To spare system and save money, why doesn’t the DeKalb board resign?

Today’s AJC story by Ty Tagami gives a great summation of the lawsuit filed yesterday by DeKalb Board of Education members to keep their elected positions by challenging the constitutionality of the law that permits the governor to oust them.

Taxpayers are underwriting this legal challenge, which is upsetting many DeKalb parents tired of crowded classes and dwindling resources.

As I wrote in a piece yesterday, there may well be good cause to question the legality of the state law. But should a costly legal challenge come from DeKalb, a system with a $16 million deficit and a parent community that seems relieved at the prospect of getting rid of its board?

My main concern: The focus of the leadership in DeKalb has shifted from the schoolhouse to the courthouse and that shortchanges students. DeKalb is in desperate need of stability, and a protracted lawsuit won’t provide it.

The best quote in the AJC story comes from a parent: “I don’t understand why they all don’t resign. They …

Continue reading Good question: To spare system and save money, why doesn’t the DeKalb board resign? »

DeKalb joins Sumter in challenging school board removal law. Will their lawsuits prevail? Should they?

Can the state’s law allowing the governor to oust school boards in districts at risk for losing their accreditation survive a court challenge?

We may find out this year as the law is facing two court challenges now, one filed today by the nine-member DeKalb County Board of Education.

Since the law’s passage in 2010 and amendments in 2011, I have heard many times that it will not stand a legal challenge.

DeKalb County filed suit in Fulton County Superior Court this morning arguing the law is unconstitutional. The lawsuit has three goals: Forbid the state Board of Education from holding a hearing on the DeKalb board’s status Thursday. Forbid the state board from recommending to the governor that he remove the entire nine member board. Forbid the governor from acting on that recommendation and removing the board.

DeKalb joins the Sumter County board members, who challenged the law in November and were able to stall the state hearing on their removal.

Sumter was in the midst of …

Continue reading DeKalb joins Sumter in challenging school board removal law. Will their lawsuits prevail? Should they? »

Michael Thurmond: On the job and the hot seat in DeKalb. And board seeks restraining order to stop state

Michael Thurmond (AJC photo)

Michael Thurmond (AJC photo)

The AJC is reporting that the DeKalb County school board filed a lawsuit today challenging a state law that could result in the removal of the nine school board members.

(Do you get the sense that the DeKalb’s board focus has moved from the schoolhouse to the courthouse?)

According to Ty Tagami’s story:

The suit, filed in Fulton County Superior Court, seeks a temporary restraining order to prevent a hearing by the Georgia Board of Education Thursday.

The hearing could result in a recommendation to suspend the DeKalb board. Such a recommendation would give Gov. Nathan Deal authority to remove the DeKalb board per a 2011 law. The law requires a hearing — like the one scheduled Thursday — for any school district whose accreditation is on probation. DeKalb was put on probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in December. The agency threatened to strip accreditation altogether if the school board doesn’t address …

Continue reading Michael Thurmond: On the job and the hot seat in DeKalb. And board seeks restraining order to stop state »

Democrats want to tweak HOPE Scholarship again. Give full HOPE to top 3 percent of class

The Democrats in the Senate are getting busy on education issues.

One of their chief targets is the Zell Miller Scholarship, the top tier HOPE award that goes to high school graduates who perform well in both GPA and SAT. Democrats want to expand the scholarship to students who graduate in the top 3 percent, regardless of their SAT score.

Zell Miller scholars must graduate high school as the valedictorian or salutatorian, or with at least a 3.7 grade-point average and a 1200 on the SAT’s math and reading sections. While in college they must maintain a 3.3 GPA. HOPE scholars must maintain a 3.0. So far, 11,600 Zell Miller scholars receive payments through the program.

Most high school grads in the state don’t meet that higher bar but qualify for HOPE Lite if they have a 3.0 grade point average. HOPE Lite is based on available lottery funds and thus subject to fluctuations. The governor created two tiers of HOPE awards in 2011 to cut down on the scholarship …

Continue reading Democrats want to tweak HOPE Scholarship again. Give full HOPE to top 3 percent of class »

Budget analysis: A billion dollar hole in state education funding next year. Start digging.

The Georgia Budget & Policy Institute just issued a bleak report on school funding prospects for next year, noting that the governor’s proposed budget for K-12 education has a $1 billion hole in it. (It is an improvement over last year when the hole was $1.1 billion.)

What’s often confusing to readers — and gives cover to lawmakers — is that school funding will increase by $205 million. But the institute’s Claire Suggs, senior education policy analyst, notes that more than 60 percent of those additional dollars are dedicated to funding enrollment growth and normal salary adjustments for teachers.

She says, “These dollars are critical to ensuring that the state’s investment in its students does not slip much further.”

Suggs warns: “Georgia’s education funding has deteriorated for years. If lawmakers accept the 2014 budget proposal, state funding through QBE, QBE equalization, and other programs will be well below the 2009 level.”

Here is an excerpt of the report. Please …

Continue reading Budget analysis: A billion dollar hole in state education funding next year. Start digging. »

Parent trigger: Can parent takeovers improve schools?

Are parents the solution to failing schools?

That’s the theory behind parent trigger laws, which allow a majority of parents in a failing school to petition and win control of the school and impose their own reform blueprint. Originating in California in 2010, the laws allow parents to take over a systematically failing school if they collect signatures from the majority of families.

But do the trigger laws really fire blanks?

A increasing criticism of parent trigger laws is that, while they involve parents at the start in organizing the petition drives to pull the trigger, the most realistic outcome is the hiring of an outside management firm to run the reconstituted school.

In fact, the possible ascendancy of for-profit education management companies contributed to the defeat of a parent trigger bill in Florida last year because parent groups argued that the law would lead to corporate interests exploiting the schools.

The Georgia General Assembly is now considering the …

Continue reading Parent trigger: Can parent takeovers improve schools? »

As Georgia bleeds high-paying jobs, can education provide a salve?

georgia-road-map-300x334Are the architects of Georgia’s education policies paying close enough attention to the vicissitudes of the state’s job market?

Should they be? Should education policy track job market shifts?

I was disappointed to read that Georgia is losing a startling share of  “premium” jobs, according to a new brief by the Fiscal Research Center of the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Can education reverse the loss of the state’s highest paying jobs? Can we continue to under invest in education given the job trends?

As a state, Georgia came late to the realization that it had to educate its citizens to higher standards. It was content to send kids without a high school diplomas off to mills and farms, but those jobs have dramatically shrunk, and, in some cases, disappeared.

It is interesting to note where the jobs are in Georgia.

Fulton County holds the largest share of jobs. While Fulton represented  17.71 percent of state jobs in 2000, it fell to …

Continue reading As Georgia bleeds high-paying jobs, can education provide a salve? »

Teacher evaluations: Is there really enough time for reliable classroom observations?

A middle school teacher I admired for her innovation pulled me aside once to tell me she was leaving the district. Her tendency to stray from the script put her at odds with the new principal.

When I shared the news later with a neighbor, an educator herself, her reaction shocked me: “Good riddance. My son never knew what was going on in that class because the teacher was always going off on a tangent.”

I learned a lesson. What’s outside-the-box teaching to one parent may be a crate of goo to the next.

Through having twins — one with a penchant for flights of fancy, the other with feet firmly planted on the ground — I have seen firsthand that personality plays a role in how well a student relates to a teacher. My son prefers strict standards, frequent quizzes and no projects that demand glue, poster boards or costumes. My daughter likes personal journals, classes that meander and any event that requires wearing a hat.

That’s why I regard promises of …

Continue reading Teacher evaluations: Is there really enough time for reliable classroom observations? »

Charter schools commission rises from the ashes with familiar faces

The State Board of Education approved seven state Charter Schools Commission members, several of whom were members prior to the state Supreme Court disbanding the commission in 2011 and the voters resurrecting it with their endorsement of a constitutional amendment in November.

The commission members are appointed by the state Board of Education based on two recommendations for each open seat from the governor, the lieutenant governor and the House speaker.

“I am pleased to see that the members of the Charter Schools Commission represent a broad cross section of backgrounds and expertise in business, education, non-profits, and government,” said Gov. Nathan Deal. “I know they will take their duty of reviewing charter school petitions and approving high quality charter schools seriously, and I look forward to working with them to improve student learning and achievement across Georgia.”

Lt. Governor Casey Cagle said, “Strengthening and reforming the way we educate our …

Continue reading Charter schools commission rises from the ashes with familiar faces »