- Created on 08 January 2013
The state of Georgia is on the brink of failure when it comes to education. At least according to an educational advocacy group known as StudentsFirst.
The group, which is based in Washington D.C. and rated every state in the nation by its own rubric, gave the Peach State a "D+" on its report card released this week.
"Georgia has improved its ability to attract and identify excellent teachers, but it must do more to ensure these teachers are retained," the group said in a statement.
"The state now needs to take the next step in making effectiveness the primary driver for tenure, placement, and compensation decisions. Georgia must empower parents through greater access to high-quality public charter schools, including strengthening the requirements for authorizers to hold schools accountable."
StudentsFirst is headed by Michelle Rhee, a former school chancellor in Washington, D.C.
While a "D+" may sound like cause for worry, Georgia was actually ranked 15th in the nation. No state earned an "A" and the highest grade, was a "B-" earned by just two states, Louisiana and Florida.
Georgia is in the process of making its teacher evaluation system more comprehensive. StudentsFirst would also like to see state lawmakers pass a "parent trigger" law. Rebecca Sabilia, StudentsFirst's Chief Financial Officer, says that would allow parents at failing schools to vote on a change in leadership.
"Just knowing that parents may be able to veto or 'no confidence' vote the folks who are currently in power could be a really great democratic exercise," Sabilia said.
StudentsFirst went on to suggest that Georgia should also establish an opportunity scholarship program for low-income students and "free teachers locked into the existing pension system by providing a more attractive, portable retirement option."
Statistics including NAEP proficiency were used in the measurement as well as the number of charters in a state and the rank of fourth and eighth graders' reading and math scores in the state. For more information visit http://reportcard.studentsfirst.org/state-detail?state=Georgia
- Created on 07 January 2013
A new proposal supported by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce could overhaul statewide rules on class size, staffing and teacher salaries for public schools in Georgia. Under the proposal, individual school boards or principals would be in control of how financing is dedicated at their school, according to the Florida Times Union.
The proposal is being called student-based funding and is said to be based on each student's needs rather than statewide staffing formulas. In theory, high school students would qualify for more than elementary school students and so forth and schools that have a high number of handicapped students or a greater need for tutors would get more money than those with a larger number of average or above-average students.
The individual school board or principal would control financing and have the power to offer larger paychecks to attract and retain sought-after teachers, make decisions on what supplies to purchase for classrooms and determine overall school material needs.
Currently, only the state can make such changes and it must make them for all schools in the state. That process has been in use for 27 years and advocates of the proposal say that's long enough.
"Some would tell you that the answer is more money. In this economy, the simple fact is that the state does not — nor will it at any time in the foreseeable future — have the ability to significantly increase the amount of funding dedicated to education," wrote Chamber President Chris Clark in the introduction to a 48-page report the organization released in November. "This led the Georgia Chamber to ask an important question. Is it possible to create better outcomes within the current financial restraints?"
The report's release included a quote from Gov. Nathan Deal that suggests the plan may have legs.
"It's heartening to see organizations like the Georgia Chamber stepping forward to contribute to our work in this area with the type of research and policy thinking reflected in this report," he said. "The report and its recommendations deserve serious consideration."
A commission the governor appointed two years ago just wrapped up a review of the current funding formula established in the Quality Basic Education Act of 1985.
The commission's recommendations will come before the General Assembly when it convenes Jan. 14.
Read more http://jacksonville.com/news/georgia/2013-01-07/story/georgia-public-schools-could-move-student-based-funding
- Created on 03 January 2013
The US Department of Education has announced that many borrowers are now able to take advantage of a new repayment plan that could lower their monthly federal student loan bills.
The plan, known as Pay As You Earn, caps monthly payments for many recent graduates at an amount that is affordable based on their income. This new option follows through on President Obama's promise to provide student borrowers with relief on their student loan payments and help them responsibly manage their debt.
"We know many recent graduates are worried about repaying their student loans as our economy continues to recover, and now it's easier than ever for student borrowers to lower monthly payments and stay on track," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
In addition, the Education Department has developed resources such as the Financial Awareness Counseling Tool, which helps borrowers better understand their loan obligations and manage their finances. To access the tool – and for more information about all federal student loan repayment plans, including eligibility criteria and repayment plan calculators – visit StudentAid.gov.
- Created on 03 January 2013
Parents who want to enroll their kids in DeKalb County School District specialty programs better start planning. Registration begins on Jan. 14 and ends on Feb. 1.
The district's specialty programs, such as the International Baccalaureate, DECA, HB 251, Montessori, magnet schools and school transfers will be done online this year. To registrater, parents can go to the district's registration portal – http://eportal.dekalb.k12.ga.us/
There you will find the Registration System for School Choice Lottery Programs, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)/No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Program.
Parents can register for one or more school choice options online and get "instant" automated feedback, according to the page.
Parents can also use the portal to find the Parent & Student Access System (PASS), which is DeKalb County School's secure online registration system for both parents and students that enables parents and students to request access to Parent Assistant (PA).
According to the school's webpage, both parents and students alike can securely create their own accounts then use the accounts to access PA and School Choice Online Programs.
- Created on 02 January 2013
(CNN) -- When Hannah Johnson wrote President Lincoln in the summer of 1863, she expressed the concerns of any mother with a son fighting a war.
But she had a special request: "I am a colored woman and my son was strong and able as any to fight for his country and the colored people have as much to fight for as any.... Will you see that the colored men fighting now, are fairly treated. You ought to do this, and do it at once."
On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation became the first authorization by an American president to enroll Johnson's son, and other black men, as legal soldiers for the United States military.
Emancipation and the enlistment of black soldiers were not President Lincoln's initial impulse. He wanted to make a gradual change, as he wrote in this letter explaining his shift to an advisor:
"When, in March, and May, and July 1862 I made earnest, and successive appeals to the border states to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military emancipation, and arming the blacks would come, unless averted by that measure. They declined the proposition; and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element. I chose the latter."
By the end of the Civil War, black soldiers made up 10% of Union troops, and 19,000 served in the Navy.
"Republicans understood that they needed blacks to be agents of change for the process," said James Oakes, author of "Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery". "The North couldn't win the war without black soldiers."
Those soldiers, and the proclamation, became an enduring symbol of freedom.
But on the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, a historical document that symbolizes the beginnings of freedom for individuals once deemed property, historians say myths persist about what the policy did, and did not, do.
"Slavery didn't die on January 1, 1863, but it was the death knell that slavery would die if the Union won the Civil War," said Eric Foner, author of "The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery".
Here are three myths that persist about the Emancipation Proclamation.
Myth 1: President Lincoln freed all slaves with the stroke of a pen.
It is an easy narrative, historians argue, that a single document granted freedom. But that's not how it happened.
Look to the proclamation's language: "That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom."
Freedom only applied to those slaves in states that had seceded. It did not apply to border states, or specific regions in Union control: about 750,000 slaves.
The 13th Amendment later abolished slavery.
Myth 2: President Lincoln was the sole visionary who eliminated slavery via the proclamation.
Lincoln's leadership proved key to signing the document, as seen in the recent blockbuster "Lincoln," which examines the legislation and political process to pass the 13th Amendment.
Review: 'Lincoln' brilliantly dramatizes delicacy of politics
President Obama hailed Lincoln in a proclamation of his own for the document's 150th anniversary:
"With that document, President Lincoln lent new moral force to the war by making it a fight not just to preserve, but also to empower," Obama wrote. "He sought to reunite our people not only in government, but also in freedom that knew no bounds of color or creed. Every battle became a battle for liberty itself. Every struggle became a struggle for equality."
But popular culture, historians argue, often overlooks that questions around slavery had been debated 30 years before the war began, and some say, since the country's inception.
"There is a long pre-history that involves black and white abolitionists. They visualized an end to slavery long before the Civil War, and they struggled to put it on the national agenda," said Manisha Sinha, author of the forthcoming book, "The Slave's Cause". "If you look at the long roots of the abolitionist movement, [they] really made it a central issue of the country even before the war."
Myth 3: Due to limited freedoms, blacks and women were constrained in affecting the change and freedoms outlined in the Emancipation Proclamation.
In fact, despite limited freedoms, many became the agitators to address slavery.
"Despite a prevailing sense among so many white Northerners and politicians that the war's principal aim was to save the Union and not destroy slavery, free and enslaved black people insisted otherwise," said photographer and historian Deborah Willis, a co-author of "Envisioning Emancipation".
Abolitionist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, famed rescuer and spy Harriet Tubman and noted author and lecturer Fredrick Douglass, along with countless other women and blacks, were key in making the country address slavery.
"In many ways, fugitive slaves were architects of their own freedom," Sinha said. "It doesn't take away from Lincoln's role. Emancipation was a huge event; it involved many actors, not the least of which were slaves."