Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Education Policy Forums Planned For School Board, Legislative Candidates

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education and the Georgia School Boards Association will soon be holding a half-day session at Clayton State University for area school board and state legislative candidates. The Education Policy Forum is designed to provide future education decision makers with factual, research-based information on which to develop positions.

The Forum, which began in the 2002 election year and was repeated in 2004 and 2006, features experts who address areas that are consistently local and state-wide items of interest.

Topics include: choices in education; early learning; education finance; governance and policymaking; school leadership; standards, assessments and accountability; student achievement; and teacher workforce. The information provided is based upon non-partisan research and is compiled in a Primer that covers each topic in-depth. All participants receive one of the resource books.

The Clayton State session, the first in the county since the program began, is one of 12 Forums to be presented across Georgia in June. The local event will be held June 4, 12:30 – 4:45 p.m., at Clayton State University, Jonesboro Rd., Morrow. Five sessions will follow over the next eight days in Dalton (June 6), Columbus (June 9), Albany (June 10), Valdosta (June 11), and Macon (June 12). A Clarksville session, June 3, is scheduled to kick-off the month-long program.

The Forums will resume June 23 with a session in Acworth followed by stops in Athens (June 24), Sandersville (June 25), Savannah (June 26), and Dublin (June 27) There is no cost.

Dr. Steve Dolinger, president of the Georgia Partnership, explained the value of the sessions. “There is nothing more important to our state’s future than our public education system. The legislatures we elect will ultimately set education policy that will affect all of us and have a direct impact on Georgia’s prosperity.”

He added, “This is why the Forums are so valuable. We present expertly researched in-depth, non-partisan information that helps explain the intricacies of our education system. Attendees will leave the session with a wealth of information on which to base their campaign and future education decisions.”

Jeannie M. (Sis) Henry, executive director of the Georgia School Boards Association, also stressed the importance of the Forums. “It is critical to all legislative and governmental decision makers to have an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of a school board, and to have a working knowledge of how school systems are governed and operated.”

She continued, “Not only are school systems usually one of the largest employers in a county, but in teaching our children, schools systems have a direct effect on the future of our country.” Henry stressed that as a co-sponsor of the Forums “GSBA welcomes the opportunity to provide information on school board governance to candidates and potential candidates in any political race.”

Registration is available on line at both the Georgia Partnership (www.gpee.org – Home Page) and Georgia School Boards Assn. (www.gsba.com – click On-Line Registration on Home Page) web sites. Questions may be directed to the Partnership at 404-223-2280 or GSBA at 770-962-6843.

A participant in one of the 2006 Forums, Amy Carter, now a member of the House of Representatives, District 175, clearly defined the importance of attending a session. “As a current high school teacher, I thought I had a clear understanding of the public education process. The Education Policy Forum was an eye opener!

“Believe me,” she emphasized, “this is a very complex subject and this session provided expert insight that I could never get anywhere else. The knowledge gained here will allow me to make more informed education-related decisions.”

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