“The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia.”
Georgia State Constitution: Article 8, Section 1
Public Education Matters Georgia is committed to a quality public education for all students as envisioned by the state constitution. Achieving this goal requires an understanding of the educational landscape in Georgia. We have identified the following topics as particularly important at this time:
The Proposed Opportunity School District
In its 2015 Legislative Session, the Georgia General Assembly passed legislation aimed at allowing a state takeover of struggling schools in Georgia. This proposed takeover plan is known as the “Opportunity School District” (OSD). In order for the OSD to become law, Georgia voters must approve a constitutional amendment creating this new school district. This critically important issue will appear as Amendment 1 on the November 8, 2016 ballot. Public Education Matters Georgia is committed to defeating Amendment 1, as it promises to further weaken public education in Georgia.
Governor Deal's Education Reform Commission
In 2015 Governor Deal appointed an Education Reform Commission to review Georgia's education system and funding formula. The Commission provided the Governor with a series of recommendations that will prompt possible executive, legislative, and/or agency action. Commission members were assigned to five subcommittees: Funding; Early Childhood; Move on When Ready; Expanding Educational Options for Georgia Families/School Choice; and Teacher Recruitment, Retention, and Compensation. Dr. Charles Knapp chaired the Commission and also served as chair of the Funding subcommittee.
Corporate Reform Efforts in Georgia
Currently in the United States, there is an effort underway to fundamentally alter the way our public school system is managed and to reallocate public dollars earmarked for public education. These efforts are referred to as the “corporate reform” of our public schools because well-funded corporations lead this coordinated effort to alter how America’s children are educated. The corporate reform of public schools is also considered an effort to “privatize” the public school system as policy makers seek to shift public funds into the private sector. To date, several corporate reforms have been successful in the State of Georgia.
High Stakes Testing
In the past two decades, education “reformers” have promoted an ever-escalating use of standardized tests to assess students and teachers. Public Education Matters Georgia believes that a continued reliance on high stakes testing, to measure student performance and effectiveness of instruction, is misguided and undermines the quality of our public education system.
School District Governance Models
As of July 1, 2015, all 180 local school districts in Georgia selected one of three specified models of governance. These models are designed to give each district a level of flexibility and autonomy in exchange for a level of accountability for student achievement. The greater the flexibility the school system seeks, the greater the level of accountability it will have to meet. By the requirements of the School System Flexibility Act, each school district must choose to remain a Traditional (or Status Quo) System, or to become an Investing in Excellence in Education (IE2) (or Strategic Waiver) System, or a Charter System.
As school systems develop their new contracts with the State, they have opportunities to become or to look at the benefits of developing Community Schools.