Archive for the ‘School financing’ Category

So, did you see new DeKalb school board in action tonight? Looked sharp to me. What did you think?

Good questions from new DeKalb Board of Education members at their inaugural board meeting tonight, which I watched online.

The board voted unanimously to end its involvement in the lawsuit challenging the law that enabled Gov. Nathan Deal to oust six members of the board. That vote ends payments to the attorneys in the lawsuit.

It seemed that many folks were at the meeting to cheer on the new board, including the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.

The six members appointed by the governor asked lots of questions, all of which were focused, relevant and pointed.

I was impressed with the questions from Deal appointee Thad Mayfield. He was quick in his analysis and offered strong points in the protracted discussion on the financing of portable classrooms and the maintenance of them.

Board member Marshall Orson — one of the three members elected this past fall — requested DeKalb terminate its status as a plaintiff in the lawsuit against the state. The …

Continue reading So, did you see new DeKalb school board in action tonight? Looked sharp to me. What did you think? »

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 …

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

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. »

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 »

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? »

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 »

Can we simultaneously fix and flee public schools?

artchangeCan we simultaneously fix and flee public schools?

I wondered about that question after meetings with Georgia’s last Democratic governor, Roy Barnes, and House Majority Whip Edward Lindsey, R-Atlanta. The men sat down with the AJC recently to discuss education issues in the state.

In many areas, the two leaders — both noted for their interest in education — see eye to eye.

“Just because a child is born in Schley County and not Forsyth County, you cannot constitutionally justify that child is going to receive an inferior education just because of an accident of birth,” said Barnes.

Speaking to AJC reporters a week later, Lindsey said much the same thing. “The fact of where a child is born should not determine whether they are going to have a future or not. Wherever a child is born, we have to concentrate on how to get them the education they need.”

Where the two leaders disagree is over the fundamental definition of public education: Is schooling a collective concern funded and …

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Anybody out there want to rethink middle schools?

grabarart0920Regular Get Schooled readers know that I have doubts about the efficacy of the middle school model.

Despite decades of experimentation and refinement, middle school still doesn’t work in most places, leading me to conclude that the problem is not with the execution of the concept but with the concept itself.

In 2011, a Harvard study found that students moving from fifth grade to a middle school setting suffer a sharp drop in academic performance in reading and math, compared to peers who attend k-8 schools. The findings of the Harvard study confirmed an earlier Columbia University study.

Writing in Education Next, Harvard researchers Martin West and Guido Schwerdt explained:

Our results cast serious doubt on the wisdom of the middle-school experiment that has become such a prominent feature of American education. We find that moving to a middle school causes a substantial drop in student test scores (relative to that of students who remain in K–8 schools) the first year …

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Where are the voices of teachers in DeKalb mess? Here is one and he’s not holding back.

downeyart0726 (Medium)A DeKalb teacher sent me this piece, noting that none of the blog commentaries on the crisis in DeKalb have come from teachers.

I suspect teachers all over the country will agree with his comments about the lack of respect for the profession. (At his request, I am not using his name because of his concerns for his job.)

This teacher is responding to a recent DeKalb commentary on the blog  by Oglethorpe University President Lawrence Schall, but his essay speaks to the conditions facing teachers in many places:

I’ve seen so many commentaries over the weeks about the plight of the DeKalb School Systems – from interim superintendents to possible ex-board members to concerned politicians. The blaring omission of a teacher voice rings louder about our current state of affairs. I’ve shrugged all of them off and kept-calm-and-carried-on as has been the trickle-down mantra for years in DeKalb County.

Then, l read I read Lawrence M. Schall’s “wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing” commentary.

His …

Continue reading Where are the voices of teachers in DeKalb mess? Here is one and he’s not holding back. »

Are Dunwoody parents interested in education or economics in proposal to flee DeKalb schools? (Or both?)

Jeffrey Dorfman is a professor of applied economics at the University of Georgia. Here is an interesting piece he wrote on the economics of Dunwoody breaking away from DeKalb and forming its own school system. (Such a move would require a statewide referendum to change the state constitution.)

That topic is likely to come up Sunday night when interim DeKalb school chief Michael Thurmond meets with the Dunwoody Homeowners Association.

By Jeffrey H. Dorfman

A local educational and political issue is brewing in metro Atlanta that provides a great example of the inherent dangers of complicated schemes designed to avoid charging the customer for a service.

Government loves to construct mechanisms so that some people get the service free, some at a discount, and others pay much more to make up the difference. Public education is a prime example of such free lunch programs as nobody pays directly; instead we all pay taxes that are used to fund education, but the level of taxes paid …

Continue reading Are Dunwoody parents interested in education or economics in proposal to flee DeKalb schools? (Or both?) »