Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Georgia PTA’s weekly update on legislative activity – Mar. 15, 2010

Karen Hallacy
2nd Vice President

Welcome to the weekly reporting of legislative activity for the 2010 session. The General Assembly is scheduled to reach Crossover Day, the 30th day, on Mar. 25th. Any bill that has not passed out of one chamber to the other, or ‘crossed over’ as it is called, is considered dead for the rest of the legislative session. The language of a bill may still be appended to another bill (as long as it pertains to the same area of Georgia Code) so it becomes very important to watch for substitute language now as bills move.

The revenue numbers for February were released recently and they don’t look positive. As a result of the continuing declining dollars, the Governor revised his FY 10 and FY 11 budgets. The remaining ARRA dollars have been moved from the FY 11 budget to fill the over $300 million hole in the FY 10 budget. That means the estimates for revenue in FY 11 were reduced by over $300 million. Education’s budget continues to shrink. One well founded rumor is that the 2010-11 school year will be funded only for 170 schools days, not the 180 required by law, and teacher work days will be limited to 4, not the 10 as required. That would save nearly $600 million, on the backs of school children. The local boards of education could continue for 180 days, with their own revenues, like the property tax, which means they will take the heat for raising taxes, but the General Assembly will not.

Common Core State Standard Initiative (CCSSI)

The draft of the Common Core State Standards has been released. This initiative, lead by the National Governors Association and the Chief Council of State School Officers, is designed to create common standards across the states. They are internationally benchmarked and are intended to prepare students to be college and career ready. In an increasingly mobile society it is critical that a student’s education does not suffer because the child moves from one state to another. The goal is to have every state voluntarily adopt these standards so that what a child learns in Massachusetts is the same as what the child learns in Georgia. These standards will establish what students need to learn, but they will not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, schools and teachers will decide how best to help students reach the standards.

GA PTA supports this voluntary state initiative and encourages its members to read more about it. The standards themselves are open for review and public input is welcome and encouraged. Public comment will be accepted until April 2. Please forward this information to other parents and to the teachers in your school so they, too, can learn more about this initiative. The standards can be found at www.corestandards.org.


Anonymous said...

170 days!! Wow! I wonder if the State BOE will reduce the CRCT expectations...I doubt it!

There is some encouraging news in this post though- I'm very intrigued by the national Core Standards. I think these could be great for a weak education state like Georgia. The current Georgia standards (GPS) are a joke and really hurting our kids (and teachers)!

Anonymous said...

It would take some time, but if someone was really bored, they could compare the new national standards and the current GA GPS standards.

Anonymous said...

170 days!! Wow! I wonder if the State BOE will reduce the CRCT expectations...I doubt it!

I've always wondered...why do they give the CRCT so early? You could actually give the test at the same time, dismiss schools 10 days early, and not miss any instructional time prior to the CRCT. Why isn't the CRCT given the last week of school for elementary and just prior to finals for the middle and high schoolers?

Anonymous said...

High school students don't take the CRCT. The first week of May is when the AP exams are given, then followed by EOCT (which is only for Math and Science) and then final exams. Oh, and the first go-round of the GHSGT is taken at the end of March.

But, hey, we don't test out kids enough, right?

Cerebration said...

They don't take EOCTs in English anymore?

Anonymous said...

EOCT Tests:
-Mathematics I and Math II:
-U.S. History and Economics
-Biology and Physical Science
-9th Grade Literature
-American Lit and Composition

Cerebration said...

What ever happened to the plan to go with EITHER the GHSGT OR the EOCTs? We're still doing both - eliminating something could save a buck or two...

Anonymous said...

The GHSGT is what is used to determine AYP for high schools - which in and of itself is ludicrous. To determine AYP status based on a test that Juniors/and some seniors take is just nuts. So, exactly what is the purpose of EOCT's then?

Anonymous said...

Testing Companies = Scum of the Earth

Trends in the News said...

First it was the Kansas City public schools. Now it's the Detroit public schools.


How much longer until the AP runs a story like this about our DeKalb County schools ? ? ?

SongCue said...

Couldn't agree more with Anon. 10:59. For YEARS I've been against standardized testing that isn't nationally norm-referenced. I heard an education expert 12 years ago say that all of these local high stakes tests would do two things:
1) make every facet of the testing industry a LOT of money. From the test makers to the test prep companies...

2) dumb down education. Enough said on this front.

Anonymous said...

I am so sick of testing as a teacher...

Why must I constantly cram High Stakes testing down kids throats?

How about a formative assessment portfolio that the kids complete over time as opposed to one sitting?

No wonder my kids are discouraged with school. With all the testing today, I would be too.

Anonymous said...

As much as teachers disliked Barnes, he did keep class sizes low. By doing this, he forced all the county and city superintendents in Georgia to keep the admin and support numbers at a reasonable level because.....
when you can't cut teacher positions, you have to carefully look at each and every admin and support position to see if you can afford it in the budget.

The state of Georgia needs to roll back the class size numbers. Only then will Ms. Tyson and the DCSS BOE be forced to trim in the admin and support area and add in the classroom area.

So parents and teachers, start writing your state representatives and the governor to let them know they are on the wrong track when they "enable" poor management that values the personnel outside the schoolhouse more than inside the schoolhouse.

Is it possible to put a link to our Governor and state representatives on this blog?

Anonymous said...

"As much as teachers disliked Barnes, he did keep class sizes low. By doing this, he forced all the county and city superintendents in Georgia to keep the admin and support numbers at a reasonable level because.....
when you can't cut teacher positions, you have to carefully look at each and every admin and support position to see if you can afford it in the budget."

Brilliant and true. Smaller class sizes means the fat has to be cut from admin and support.

Anonymous said...

Cerebration and Blog Readers- please look at the AJC Get Schooled blog about what the Cherokee county teachers, parents and citizens are doing. Also check out the Georgia Education Coalition.

I have said several times on this blog that we must focus on the legislature. The governor, Cox and the GA legislature have done major damage to public education.

I agree that we need a new superintendent, some new BOE members and drastic reduction of overhead and fat in the central office and administrative positions. But we need to turn some of this outrage and energy towards the folks who are holding public education hostage.

themommy said...

I love the Cherokee County campaign. I think it is awesome. Unfortunately, for most DeKalb residents they are represented by people that believe that education cuts are bad. Because so much of DeKalb is "blue" and this is such a red state, we have very little influence. With Perdue being a lame duck, it is even worse.

I hope that parents who live in the districts of Millar, Weber, Chambers and Jacobs are letting them know to fight for public k-12 education.

With the exception of items that need a 2/3rds vote, there is almost no need for bipartisianship at the state level.

However, Casey Cagel, the Lt. Gov, is running again. It can't hurt to email him and tell him that the cutting of state resources for k-12 is unacceptable and that both changes to the equalization grant (where "rich" counties money goes to "poor" ones) and new sources of revenues must be considered.

Anonymous said...

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/15/education/15recess.html?%2334; =&sq=&st=cse&scp=1&%2334;Forget Goofing Around: Recess Has New Boss=&pagewanted=print

Forget Goofing Around: Recess Has a New Boss

NEWARK — At Broadway Elementary School here, there is no more sitting around after lunch. No more goofing off with friends. No more doing nothing.

Instead there is Brandi Parker, a $14-an-hour recess coach with a whistle around her neck, corralling children behind bright orange cones to play organized games. There she was the other day, breaking up a renegade game of hopscotch and overruling stragglers’ lame excuses.

They were bored. They had tired feet. They were no good at running.

“I don’t like to play,” protested Esmeilyn Almendarez, 11.

“Why do I have to go through this every day with you?” replied Ms. Parker, waving her back in line. “There’s no choice.”

Broadway Elementary brought in Ms. Parker in January out of exasperation with students who, left to their own devices, used to run into one another, squabble over balls and jump-ropes or monopolize the blacktop while exiling their classmates to the sidelines. Since she started, disciplinary referrals at recess have dropped by three-quarters, to an average of three a week. And injuries are no longer a daily occurrence.

“Before, I was seeing nosebleeds, busted lips, and students being a danger to themselves and others,” said Alejandro Echevarria, the principal. “Now, Coach Brandi does miracles with 20 cones and three handballs.”

The school is one of a growing number across the country that are reining in recess to curb bullying and behavior problems, foster social skills and address concerns over obesity. They also hope to show children that there is good old-fashioned fun to be had without iPods and video games.

Playworks, a California-based nonprofit organization that hired Ms. Parker to run the recess program at Broadway Elementary, began a major expansion in 2008 with an $18 million grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. It has placed recess coaches in 170 schools in low-income areas of nine cities, including Boston, Washington and Los Angeles, and of Silicon Valley.

Anonymous said...

What the PTA doesn't realize is that it's not just the standards, but how the standards are implemented. In other states, they are viewed as the minimum a child should be taught and know. In Georgia, they are only what the children are taught. Until this thinking changes, education levels across the states are all raised, Georgia's children in public school will continue to be left behind.

Anonymous said...

"Because so much of DeKalb is "blue" and this is such a red state, we have very little influence. "

There are a lot of "red" voters in DeKalb as well as "blue". Education is bipartisan. Everyone needs to write the governor and the legislators (especially those hoping to be governor - democrat and republican governor-want-a-bes) and let them know we want class sizes rolled back at the same time funding is increased.

If the state forces the school systems to roll back class sizes, you'll see fast the "fat" is trimmed.

When Barnes rolled back class sizes, we had much smaller admin and support numbers, and much larger teacher numbers.

Tens of millions of dollars more DCSS tax dollars were spent in the classroom for students. The DCSS administration grumbled and groaned (it wasn't fair, Barnes wasn't funding it, the state didn't understand DCSS, etc.). But they were forced to make deep cuts in the support and admin to meet the state's class size requirement.

Class size is important to any legislation. Otherwise, Ms. Tyson and the BOE will just use the money to retain or add to those 8,800 admin and support. The trickle down won't reach our kids.