Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Georgia Historical Society Welcomes 66 Educators to Savannah During NEH Summer Programs for College Faculty

This summer, the Georgia Historical Society (GHS) will welcome 66 educators from across the United States to Savannah as they participate in two distinct scholarly programs that promote the study and exploration of American history in the region.

From June 6–July 2, 2010, GHS will host a four-week National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded summer seminar entitled, “The American Civil War at 150: New Approaches.” Sixteen participants (14 college faculty and two graduate students) hailing from 14 states will join GHS in the in-depth, scholarly exploration of the reasons behind, the players within, and the consequences of the American Civil War. The rigorous seminar will feature lectures and discussions with leading scholars in the field, readings, directed research in primary source documents, and selected site visits that will span the causes of the war, the choosing of sides, slavery and emancipation, and the war as it is remembered in our collective history and memory.

Following the Summer Seminar, an additional 50 educators will descend upon Savannah from 23 states to participate in the NEH funded workshops for community college faculty entitled, “African-American History and Culture in the Georgia Lowcountry: Savannah and the Coastal Islands, 1750–1950.”  Two week-long workshop sessions have been planned for July 11–17, 2010 and July 18–24, 2010; each session will be attended by 25 community college faculty members currently teaching humanities courses at institutions throughout the country. Workshop participants will explore the broad themes of race and slavery in American history by focusing on site-specific experiences of communities in and around Savannah from the late eighteenth through the early twentieth centuries. The workshop will include lecture sessions by nationally recognized experts on African-American folklife, culture, and religion and slavery in the American South; guided tours of the streets, squares, and structures of Savannah’s Historic Landmark District; and site visits to Ossabaw and Sapelo Islands.

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Lawmakers Cut Education Another Year Despite Rising Unemployment and Student Growth

Recovery Act funds alone could not shore up Georgia's education budgets. Lawmakers cut between 13 and 15 percent from K-12, University System, and Georgia's award-winning Technical College System budgets for the upcoming fiscal year compared to fiscal year 2009, before these recessionary cuts began.

Thousands of Georgians currently employed by the state education systems will be joining the ranks of Georgia's record unemployment numbers. These include not only teachers, but nurses, cafeteria supervisors, bus drivers, and custodians.

"These cuts affect students, faculty, and staff, but also local economies across the state," said Sarah Beth Gehl, author of the Georgia Budget & Policy Institute's latest analysis. "K-12 systems are one of the top 10 largest employers in every county in Georgia, and the number one largest in 96 counties."

In addition, 27 counties have a public post-secondary system among their top 10 employers, according to Department of Labor data.

The State Board of Education just eliminated class size limits for the upcoming school year to allow districts to manage state cuts. Additional conseqences will be more adjunct faculty at colleges and universities, salary cuts and furloughs, and reduced supportive services such as tutoring, advising, and professional development, as well as more drastic measures for certain institutions.

A few K-12 school systems have already moved to a four-day school week or shortened the school calendar from 180 days to 160 days.

Recovery Act funds were intended to give state lawmakers time to address their revenue declines from the Great Recession. "Although Georgia's budget deficit has been in the top 10 worst in the nation, lawmakers chose to rely heavily on cuts," said Gehl. "Georgia lawmakers did not take significant steps to shore up the state's revenue system for education."

Recovery Act funds for education run out in FY 2011, causing bigger holes in school funding even as Georgia's population of school age children increases, more displaced workers seek job training, and more young people seek post-secondary education in order to enter the workforce.

The report specifies the four limited options Georgia has for future budgets, as well as policy questions, such as:

How will communities balance these cuts? Will some communities be able to offset the cuts with local resources, while communities with limited means cannot?

One option that exists to give states another year of time to solve their budget problems is for Congress to pass amendments to the war/disaster supplemental bill to add $23 billion in emergency education funding -- effectively an extension of the Recovery Act's state fiscal stabilization fund. These funds would go to state governments and would help prevent education layoffs in Georgia and across the nation.

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5 Georgia Technical Colleges Form Bioscience Training Partnership

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Five Georgia state technical colleges have formed a partnership to recruit and train workers for the state’s bioscience industry. Supported by Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Gwinnett, and Valdosta Technical Colleges, the Georgia Bioscience Technology Institute (GBTI) will leverage existing community and industry partnerships to develop a statewide collaborative training network -- sharing curricula, resources and best practices to develop this skilled workforce.

“By aligning these institutions, workforce development and industry, we have laid the foundation for supplying the bioscience industry in Georgia with the workforce it needs, both today and in the future”

GBTI targets three regions of the state with high potential for training dislocated workers for the bioscience industry: the Innovation Crescent (a 13 county region from Atlanta to Athens), the Bioscience Circle of South Georgia (an 11 county region surrounding Valdosta) and the Augusta Bioscience Hub (five counties surrounding the Augusta area). This expansion leverages existing bioscience workforce investments by Georgia’s Work Ready Regions, a program of the Governor’s Office of Workforce Development, and a $1.9M federal grant in 2007 to Athens and Gwinnett Technical Colleges, which launched the GBTI.

“By aligning these institutions, workforce development and industry, we have laid the foundation for supplying the bioscience industry in Georgia with the workforce it needs, both today and in the future,” said Georgia Bio President Charles Craig. “This partnership demonstrates Georgia’s strengths in working collaboratively and in working smarter in today’s economic climate to efficiently and effectively bring new training programs online.”

“Georgia Work Ready Regions were created to link education and workforce development to the state's economic development and ensure our state delivers a pipeline of skilled workers ready to take on today’s work and tomorrow’s innovations,” said Debra Lyons, Director, Governor’s Office of Workforce Development. “By linking together bioscience regions, the GBTI partners will drive growth and ensure Georgia offers a competitive advantage.”

To fund this expansion, the GBTI institutions have submitted a collaborative proposal to the U.S. Department of Labor with the backing of community partners, including 26 bioscience employers, six Regional Workforce Boards, the Atlanta Regional Commission, the Council for Adult and Experiential Learning and Georgia Bio.

This grant would enable three of the college partners (Atlanta, Augusta and Valdosta Technical Colleges) to initiate bioscience certificate and associate degree programs to meet their region’s bioscience workforce needs while increasing capacity of the existing bioscience programs at Gwinnett and Athens Technical Colleges. If funded, GBTI will begin expanded operations July 1, 2010.

Georgia Bioscience Technology Institute was initiated as a collaborative effort between the Biotechnology Program at Athens Technical College and the Bioscience Program at Gwinnett Technical College to prepare workers for the exciting Life Science industry. For more information, visit www.gabioscience.org.

Georgia Work Ready was launched in August 2006 by Governor Sonny Perdue and the Georgia Chamber of Commerce to improve the job training and marketability of Georgia's workforce and drive future economic growth for the state. By identifying both the needs of business and the available skills of Georgia's workforce, the state can more effectively generate the right talent for the right jobs. For more information, visit www.gaworkready.org.

Georgia Bio represents nearly 300 pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device companies, universities, research institutes, government groups and other business organizations involved in the development of products that improve the health and quality of life people worldwide. For more information, visit www.gabio.org.

The Atlanta Regional Commission is the regional planning and intergovernmental coordination agency for the 10-county area (including Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale counties) and the City of Atlanta, dedicated to unifying the region's collective resources to prepare the metropolitan area for a prosperous future. For more information, visit www.atlantaregional.com.

Council for Adult and Experiential Learning The Council for Adult and Experiential Learning is a national non-profit organization which creates and manages effective learning strategies through partnerships with employers, higher education, the public sector, and labor. For more information, visit www.cael.org.

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Georgia Leads the Nation in Comprehensive School Board Reform

/PRNewswire/ -- - Today Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue signed into law landmark legislation that gives Georgia the most comprehensive school board reform legislation in the nation.

"SB 84 gives the state the ability to step in when a local school system's accreditation is threatened. This bill strikes the appropriate balance between local control and state intervention when a system is in crisis," said Gov. Perdue. "I am especially appreciative of the efforts of business leaders from the Metro Atlanta and Georgia chambers of commerce who worked so hard for this legislation."

"While very few states have legislation that outlines the roles and responsibilities of local school boards, as well as ethics requirements of school board members, many states could benefit from such legislation," said Dr. Mark Elgart, president and CEO of AdvancED, parent organization for the K-12 division of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). "School systems in Georgia will benefit from effective leadership that supports delivery of a quality education. With this legislation, Georgia will lead the nation as a model for local school board governance."

This legislation is being closely watched across the nation by school systems that have faced probation and/or are on the verge of losing their accreditation in states including Arkansas, Alabama, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. Additionally, throughout the nation, school systems are seeing their budgets, resources, staffing and student achievement negatively affected by poor school board leadership.

"The legislation is the culmination of 18 months of Georgia's business leaders' professional and personal time to address dysfunctional school board members causing the loss of a system's accreditation, and the accompanying economic loss to that community," said Sam A. Williams, president of the Metro Atlanta Chamber.

"Good board governance is essential for the effectiveness of any organization, from Fortune 500 companies to local school districts," said George Israel, president of the Georgia Chamber. "This legislation provides assurance to parents and students in communities across Georgia and offers an example for other states that are dealing with this issue."

The bill is aimed at keeping Georgia school systems from losing accreditation, like Clayton County Public Schools did in 2008, becoming the second school system in the nation after Duval County, Fla., to lose accreditation in the past 41 years. The bill includes sweeping reforms in school board governance; supports accountable, well-trained, ethical school boards; and clarifies the roles and responsibilities of board members and superintendents.

"We couldn't just stand by and watch students, schools and communities suffer," said John Rice, vice chairman of GE, and co-chair of the Commission for School Board Excellence. The commission -- a diverse task force of key business leaders, educators and school board experts -- examined research and best practices in school board governance and provided recommendations for improvements in Georgia. They presented their findings to Georgia's State Board of Education in September 2008.

In counties where school systems fail or are at risk of failing, the devastation is deep and long-lasting -- families relocate, students leave the school system, housing prices plummet and new economic development opportunities are often redirected from the county altogether.

GE's Rice adds, "This action provides a responsible standard for school board governance across Georgia, contributing to improved outcomes for all students and much lower risk of school system failure."

The main components of the bill are:
-- additional qualifications for school board candidates
-- better-defined board and superintendent roles and responsibilities
-- a code of ethics and conflict-of-interest policy for all school boards
-- updated mandatory training to reflect current responsibilities
-- and the Governor's ability to temporarily intervene when a school
system is in trouble.


"Good board governance is essential for school systems to succeed on the state and local levels," said Brenda Welburn, executive director of the National Association of State Boards of Education. "I witness firsthand the strong link between effective state school boards of education and academic improvement across states."

Metro Atlanta Chamber -- The Metro Atlanta Chamber brings the best together to help Atlanta thrive. We mobilize and connect the business community to drive economic development and public policies that promote sustainable growth. Our board draws from Atlanta's top business leaders. We have a professional staff of 90 and serve 4,000 member companies who employ nearly a million workers. In Economic Development, our project managers attract the best companies and the best jobs. In Public Policy, we tackle crisis issues and critical quality-of-life challenges such as transportation, water and education. For our members, we offer 150+ events and activities each year to help them connect and make business contacts. In sports, MAC's Atlanta Sports Council has helped drive almost $2 billion in economic impact over the past 10 years by hosting major sporting events. In 2009, the Chamber celebrated 150 years of bringing Atlanta leaders together.

Georgia Chamber of Commerce -- The Georgia Chamber is the grassroots voice of business, vigorously representing its diverse membership in the public policy arena. As it constantly works to protect Georgia's enviable pro-business environment, the Chamber remains mindful of its mission to keep the state economically prosperous, educationally competitive and environmentally responsible.

Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education -- Founded in 1992 by the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the Georgia Economic Developers Association, the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education consists of business, education, community and government leaders who share a vision of improved education. Working to be Georgia's foremost change agent in education, the non-profit, non-partisan, independent organization takes lead roles in efforts to shape policy and reform education. The mission of the Partnership is to inform and influence Georgia leaders through research and non-partisan advocacy to impact education policies and practices for the improvement of student achievement. More information about the organization is available at www.gpee.org.

AdvancED -- The world's largest education community, AdvancED represents 27,000 public and private schools and districts in 50 states and 65 countries and serving over 15 million students. AdvancED is the parent organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI). AdvancED is dedicated to advancing excellence in education through accreditation, research, and professional services. For more information, please visit http://www.advanc-ed.org/ .

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The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation Announces $185,000 in New Grants

/PRNewswire/ -- Trustees of The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation have awarded grants totaling $185,000 to nonprofit organizations working to improve education in Georgia.

The investments include a two-year $75,000 award to Quality Care for Children, an Atlanta nonprofit organization that will use the funds to implement a Shared Services Alliance. By pooling resources and strengthening buying power, the Shared Services Alliance will help childcare centers across 46 counties cut costs, streamline administrative processes and improve quality of care.

"With these grants, the Foundation is deepening its commitment to providing high-quality education to every young child in Georgia, regardless of their family's economic situation," said Foundation President Penelope McPhee. "Georgia's economic future rests on raising the bar on education, starting with our youngest children from birth through pre-K."

In addition to improvements that will enhance their efficiency, members of the new alliance will also benefit from new services for children and families. In particular, alliance members will gain access to discounted food, payroll services, marketing assistance and training.

The Foundation's trustees also approved grants to:

Teach for America

$50,000 to expand the Georgia initiatives of this national nonprofit that trains outstanding college graduates to commit to teach for two years in urban and rural public schools. Teach for America will recruit and place 25 new teachers in early childhood education programs and expand its K-12 teaching corps in Atlanta, Cobb, DeKalb and Clayton school systems.

Emory University

$50,000 challenge grant to provide a six-week math and science summer residential program for 72 Atlanta high school students in 2010 and 2011. Students receive intensive instruction in chemistry, biology and math and preparation for college-entrance exams.

VOICES for Georgia's Children

$10,000 to identify and analyze financial models for future investment of state lottery funds in support of Georgia's Pre-K program and the HOPE Scholarship. At present, state lottery proceeds fund both the HOPE Scholarships and Georgia Pre-K programs. Economic forecasts indicate that by 2012 lottery funds will be unable to support both programs fully.

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State Board of Education Allows Local Class Size Flexibility

The State Board of Education (SBOE) today (May 24) granted an exemption of all statutory and regulatory class size maximums for the 2010-2011 school year. Due to the continued economic downturn that has caused declines in state and local revenue, the SBOE recognized the need to give school districts more flexibility.

Local school districts will be required to submit a local board resolution to the Georgia Department of Education before class size maximums may exceed the current requirements. The board resolution must be approved at a local board meeting to ensure that all stakeholders are informed about the school district's decision regarding increases in class size.

"School districts have been financially devastated by the economy so the State Board took action to help districts balance their budgets," said SBOE Chair Wanda Barrs. "Increasing class size is never ideal, but a slight increase will allow systems to significantly conserve resources while managing through these difficult times."

The exemption of class size maximums does not remove the requirement for school districts to continue to meet all federal and state accountability measures as well as health and safety requirements.

"Accountability is here to stay, which is a good thing," said State School Superintendent Kathy Cox. "The requirements under No Child Left Behind and the varying instructional needs of students should still be at the forefront when local districts are making decisions about their class sizes."

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Several Urban Districts Post Gains But Most Score Below Nation in Nation's Report Card for Reading

/PRNewswire/ -- Several of the 18 participating U.S. urban school districts produced reading scores that exceeded the average for large cities, and a few posted gains over their scores in previous years, according to the results of a special survey by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also known as "The Nation's Report Card." However, overall scores for fourth and eighth graders in most of these districts continue to lag behind their peers nationwide.

The NAEP Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) tested representative samples of between 800 and 2,400 fourth and eighth grade students in each of the 18 large school districts to gauge performance in reading. Overall scores in 2009 were lower for most participating districts when compared to the national average. The nation showed a one-point gain at grade 8 but no change in grade 4 from 2007. However, some districts showed progress on TUDA at each grade level. NAEP is administered and analyzed by the National Center for Education Statistics.

At grade 4, scores for 2009 increased for students in 4 districts--Boston, the District of Columbia, Houston, and New York City--compared to 2007. Moreover, scores were higher in 2009 than in 2002 for 5 districts--Atlanta, Chicago, the District of Columbia, Los Angeles, and New York City. At grade 8, Atlanta and Los Angeles were the only two districts that showed reading gains in 2009 compared to 2007 and 2002, the first assessment year of TUDA.

"Despite promising gains in some districts, clearly the ongoing challenge in urban education is great," said David Driscoll, Chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board, the independent, bipartisan body that sets policy for NAEP. "The results underscore the importance of reliable measures like NAEP to spotlight education gaps while also highlighting school districts that have produced solid results."

NAEP is the only nationally representative measure of what American students know and can do. NAEP TUDA is a voluntary program that assesses the educational progress of large, urban school districts with a majority of either non-White or low-income students. Participation in NAEP TUDA has grown from 6 districts in 2002 to 18 school districts in 14 states and the District of Columbia in 2009. The Governing Board selects from among urban districts that volunteer to participate.

The 11 districts that participated in both 2007 and 2009 are Atlanta Public Schools, Austin Independent School District, Boston Public Schools, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, Chicago Public Schools, Cleveland Metropolitan School District, District of Columbia Public Schools, Houston Independent School District, Los Angeles Unified School District, New York City Department of Education, and San Diego Unified School District.

Districts added in 2009 are Baltimore City Public Schools, Detroit Public Schools, Fresno Unified School District, Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville, KY) Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Milwaukee Public Schools, and School District of Philadelphia.

NAEP TUDA results compare the 18 districts not only to each other and the nation, but also to large cities (cities with a population of 250,000 or more that may or may not have a TUDA district). Fourth graders in 6 districts--Austin, Boston, Charlotte, Jefferson County, Miami-Dade, and New York City--scored higher than fourth graders in large cities overall. In 5 districts--Austin, Boston, Charlotte Jefferson County, and Miami-Dade--eighth grade scores were higher than those of large cities overall.

Differences in average NAEP scores between TUDA districts and large cities as a whole sometimes varied among student groups. Among the 9 districts where average scores were lower than the scores for large cities at grade 4, only Detroit and Philadelphia showed lower scores for all categories of students by race/ethnicity and eligibility for free/reduced-price school lunch with samples large enough to report results, for example. And among the 5 districts where overall scores were higher than the average score for large cities at both grades, Charlotte was the only district to have higher scores for White, Black, and Hispanic students and for lower-income students at grade 4.

It should be noted that when comparing the urban districts to the nation, demographic characteristics in the TUDA districts are often different from those in many other school systems in the country. The percentage of TUDA eighth-grade students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch ranges from 46 percent in Charlotte to 100 percent in Cleveland. By contrast, in the nation, it is 43 percent at grade 8 and 47 percent at grade 4. In addition, the percentage of English language learners (ELL) in large cities for grade 4 is twice as high--18 percent--as in the nation, and it ranges within the TUDA districts from 41 percent in Los Angeles to just 1 percent in Atlanta, Baltimore City, and Jefferson County, KY.

Like the results of the NAEP Reading Report Card released in March, the results of TUDA are reported as average scores on a 0 to 500 scale, and as percentages of students performing at or above three achievement levels: Basic, Proficient, or Advanced. The total number of districts in TUDA will grow to 21 in 2011 as 3 more jurisdictions have agreed to participate--Dallas Independent School District, Hillsborough County (FL.) Public Schools (including Tampa), and Albuquerque (NM) Public Schools. The Governing Board late last year approved the inclusion of these districts.

The 2009 Reading Assessment is based on a new framework, developed by the Governing Board, which includes several changes aimed at improving the way NAEP measures reading comprehension. Informed by the latest scientific research and extensive input from educational experts and others, the new framework provides a more well-defined measure of reading comprehension. It requires using more high-quality literature and a broader range of text types to challenge students; including poetry in grades 4, 8, and 12; and assessing vocabulary in a new way that shows students understand the meaning of words as used in the passage.

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Thursday, May 20, 2010

2011 Georgia Teacher of the Year Named

Pam Williams, an Economics teacher from Appling County High School, has been named the 2011 Georgia Teacher of the Year.

Ms. Williams was named the winner of the award at the annual Georgia Teacher of the Year banquet at the Georgia Aquarium. She will spend the 2010-2011 school year serving as an advocate for public education and the teaching profession in Georgia.

"I know that Pam is going to be a great spokesperson for teachers in Georgia," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox.

Ms. Williams received her undergraduate degree from Brewton Park College, and her master’s and specialist degrees from Georgia Southern University. She began her teaching career at Bacon County Middle in 1991 and moved to Appling County in 1992. She taught sixth grade for two years and then taught Language Arts, Reading and Georgia Studies at Appling County Middle for 13 years. She came to the high school three years ago where she teaches Economics and American Government.

In her application, she described her philosophy of teaching as being focused on respect and responsibility. She stressed the importance of two-way communication between her and her students because she sees the teaching profession as second only to parenting.

"Many children spend more time daily with their teachers than they do with their parents," Ms. Williams wrote. "As a result, I believe teaching encompasses far more than classroom instruction."

A high school senior at her school wrote, “Ms. Williams has an amazing ability to break down difficult concepts into simple lessons for students to understand. Her enthusiasm and passion for the subject she teaches radiates throughout every word she speaks. Because of her class, I have learned more about the principles upon which our nation was founded and I have become more involved in our government. She teaches us that we have a voice, one that can be heard and can make a difference if we use it correctly.”

As Georgia Teacher of the Year, Ms. Williams will represent the Georgia teachers by speaking to the public about the teaching profession and conducting workshops and programs for educators. She will also compete for the 2011 National Teacher of the Year.

ABOUT THE GEORGIA TEACHER OF THE YEAR PROGRAM
There were 148 district teachers of the year that submitted applications to become the 2011 Georgia Teacher of the Year. The applications were read by a panel of judges that included teachers, past GTOY winners and finalists, administrators, community leaders and others. Ten finalists were chosen based on the strength of their essay responses.

A panel of judges that included Gwen Desselle, the 2010 Georgia Teacher of the Year, and others observed each finalist in their classroom and interviewed them at their schools. The ten finalists then gave speeches at the annual Teacher of the Year luncheon, sponsored by Georgia Power.

No state funds were used for the Teacher of the Year banquet. It was paid for through private donations and ticket sales.

Several sponsors donated money and prizes for the Georgia Teacher of the Year. The title sponsor of the Georgia Teacher of the Year program is UnitedHealthcare. Platinum sponsors included Georgia Natural Gas, AirTran Airways, and SMART Technologies. Other sponsors included Blue Bell Creameries, The Coca Cola Company, Georgia Association of Educators, Georgia Power, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, Keith Plaques, Apple, Inc.,The School Box, Inc. and Chick-fil-A.

2011 Georgia Teacher of the Year Finalists (in alphabetical order by district)
Teacher, School, System, Subject

- Pam Williams, Appling County High School, Appling County, Social Studies
- Lori Bone, County Line Elementary School, Barrow County, Special Education
- Henry Rentz, Cass Middle School, Bartow County, Language Arts
- Kelly Burke, Woodstock High School, Cherokee County, Science
- Steven Greer, Dodge County High School, Dodge County, JROTC
- Deborah Stringfellow, Alton C. Crews Middle School, Gwinnett County, Science
- Coni Grebel, Lee County High School, Lee County, Language Arts
- Kathy Neal, Thomson High School, McDuffie County, Science
- Bettina Polite Tate, Sol C. Johnson High, Savannah-Chatham County, Marketing & Business
- Laura Gerlach, Sumter County Elementary Math, Science & Technology Academy, Sumter County, 3rd grade

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Friday, May 14, 2010

Regents Approve Fiscal Year 2011 University System Budget; Set Tuition

The University System of Georgia (USG) Board of Regents took action on the System’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2011 operating budget, which includes setting tuition rates. The actions of the board support its philosophy of providing a balance between broad access to public higher education and academic quality in its 35 degree-granting institutions.

The FY 2011 USG appropriation, as passed by the General Assembly as part of the overall State budget, is $1.95 billion, which is a cumulative decrease of $227 million, or 10.4 percent, from the original state budget in FY 2010 of $2.17 billion.

With respect to tuition, starting this fall, most students will pay tuition increases ranging from a low of $50 per semester at two-year colleges to a high of $500 per semester at the four research universities. The board made clear by its actions its determination to maintain the Guaranteed Tuition Plan (also known as “fixed for four”) for those students still covered by this plan. To offset the increases for the most financially needy students, the regents have called upon the research universities to provide need-based aid for students on Pell Grants.

“Our tuition strategy helps us to preserve both access and quality, but we are not accomplishing these goals by shifting all of our costs to students and families,” said USG Chancellor Erroll B. Davis Jr.

The tuition increase will generate $80 million to help offset the $227 million reduction in the FY 2011 budget.

In a presentation to the board on budget and tuition, USG Chief Financial Officer Usha Ramachandran laid out the overall tuition strategy. She said that the regents’ goals of preserving access and protecting quality must be viewed against the reality of financing higher education. “While we have become more efficient and productive, at the same time costs are going up, as well as demand for higher education,” she said.

Ramachandran pointed out that as a result of ongoing reductions in state appropriations, the state funding per full time equivalent student (FTE) is projected to be $6,242 in FY 2011, down almost 25 percent from the peak of $8,294, which occurred in FY 2001.

Tuition in fall 2010 for all students will vary according to the institution attended. The strategy is to ensure that tuition is competitive within the state at the two-year and state colleges, competitive regionally at the regional and comprehensive universities, and nationally competitive at the research universities. Students who enrolled under the Guaranteed Tuition Plan in fall 2006 and who come off that plan in fall 2010, along with freshmen and sophomores, will pay the new tuition rates. Students who enrolled in fall 2007 and fall 2008 under the Guaranteed Tuition Plan will see no change in their tuition rates.

Undergraduate students attending one of the four research universities (Georgia State, Georgia Tech, Medical College of Georgia or the University of Georgia) will pay $3,535 per semester, an increase from fall 2009 of $500. Even with the $500 increase, the tuition at UGA, Georgia Tech and Georgia State will be either just below or at the median of undergraduate tuition paid among these institutions’ national peers.

Students attending one of the research universities who are eligible for Pell Grants also will have access to need-based aid to help offset the $500 tuition increase. Officials are finalizing the guidelines for these students and the program will be administered separately by each of the four research universities.

Students attending state universities with specialized missions will see an increase from fall 2009 of $300 per semester. At Columbus State, Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, North Georgia, Valdosta State, and West Georgia, students will pay $2,298 per semester, at Southern Polytechnic, $2,489, and at Georgia College $3,142.

Tuition at all other state universities will increase by $200 to $2,137 per semester. This includes: Albany State, Armstrong Atlantic, Augusta State, Clayton State, Fort Valley, Georgia Southwestern, and Savannah State.

Tuition at the state colleges will increase $100, to $1,347 per semester, including Abraham Baldwin, College of Coastal Georgia, Dalton State, Gainesville State, Gordon, Macon State and Middle Georgia. Tuition at Georgia Gwinnett College also will increase $100 from fall 2009 to fall 2010, but the total tuition per semester will be $1,600.

Tuition at the two-year colleges will be $1,199, a $50 increase from fall 2009. This includes Atlanta Metro, Bainbridge, Darton, East Georgia, Georgia Highlands, Georgia Perimeter, South Georgia and Waycross.

USG FY2011 BUDGET

The overall System budget as approved by the General Assembly is attentive to two of the board’s most critical FY 2011 funding priorities — supporting the increased student enrollment the USG is experiencing and continuing the funding of the statewide expansion of physician education to meet a critical need for more doctors in Georgia.

“This budget not only will provide the tools and balanced strategy to maintain academic excellence, but also will position the System to help drive future economic growth in Georgia,” said Board Chair Robert F. Hatcher. “We are very grateful to the Governor and the General Assembly for their continued support of the University System of Georgia.”

The final state appropriation for FY 2011 increases the USG’s funding by $107.8 million to provide critical state support for new students who entered the University System in Fall 2008. (The formula is calculated annually using two-year-old enrollment data. In Fall 2008, enrollment increased 5.6 percent, generating an increase of 398,000 in the number of credit hours of instruction taken by students.)

The Regents approved a strategy to allocate from the $107.8 million for enrollment growth $51 million to maintain academic quality and $51 million to meet enrollment growth at its colleges and universities, with the remaining $5.8 million to be used to address other System priorities.

The FY 2011 budget also includes an incremental $900,000 to enable the regents to continue the momentum of an effort launched two years ago to expand physician education in Georgia by increasing the capacity and reach of the Medical College of Georgia’s (MCG) School of Medicine from its home campus in Augusta to Athens, Albany and Savannah.

Other additions total $11.2 million to cover cost adjustments for the Teachers’ Retirement System, workman’s compensation premiums, unemployment insurance and miscellaneous operations of the System.

These additions are more than offset by $161 million in incremental reductions from the FY 2010 Amended Budget to FY 2011.

The General Assembly also approved a capital budget for the USG that totals $183.7 million. This includes:

$60 million in Major Repair and Renovation (MRR) bond funds;
$20.1 million for equipment funds for seven previously funded projects at the College of Coastal Georgia, Fort Valley State University, Gainesville State College, Georgia Institute of Technology, Macon State College, Southern Polytechnic State University and the University of Georgia;
$9.7 million for three infrastructure projects at Columbus State University, Kennesaw State University, and North Georgia College & State University;
$51.4 million in construction funding for eight projects at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College, Armstrong Atlantic State University, Atlanta Metropolitan College, Darton College, East Georgia College, Georgia Gwinnett College, Georgia Southern University, and Georgia Southwestern State University;
$9.7 million in design and construction funds for two projects at the College of Coastal Georgia and South Georgia College;
$20.6 million in design funds for seven projects at Albany State University, Augusta State University, Dalton State College, Georgia State University, Georgia Tech, Valdosta State University and UGA;
$3.7 million for three Georgia Public Library projects in Greene County, Lafayette-Walker County, and Madison County; and
$8.5 million for the Georgia Research Alliance.
Board approval of the Fiscal Year 2011 budget and allocations as well as facilities construction is dependent upon final approval of the state budget and bond package by Gov. Sonny Perdue.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Sallie Mae Announces New Market-Leading Savings Account Interest Rates

(BUSINESS WIRE)--Whether you are saving money for college or other important goals, Sallie Mae now helps you achieve your goals with increased savings account interest rates among the highest nationwide. Saving for college is increasingly a priority for parents with 59 percent currently saving for college through a combination of savings, CDs and money market accounts according to national research from Sallie Mae and Gallup. Of these parents, 38 percent manually deposit funds when budget allows and 31 percent are habitual savers.

“The account was no trouble to open and the high rate combined with Upromise benefits will help us build our savings.”

“The Sallie Mae savings account earns more interest and helps our family save for college, for us it was a no brainer,” said Julie M., a mother of four from Cincinnati. “The account was no trouble to open and the high rate combined with Upromise benefits will help us build our savings.”

The High-Yield Savings Account by Sallie Mae is now offering a 1.4% Annual Percentage Yield (APY), among the best interest rates in the nation. There are no minimum balance requirements, no monthly fees, accounts are FDIC insured and starting an account takes just a few minutes online. Customers can save even more with a 10 percent annual match of their Upromise rewards earnings. Sallie Mae’s Upromise rewards program is free, and members earn rewards through everyday spending at online retailers, restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.

High-Yield Savings Accounts are just one of the ways you can save with Sallie Mae. The company also offers Certificates of Deposit accounts and college savings plans. Certificate of Deposit accounts have no minimum balance, no monthly fees and terms of 12 months at an increased rate of 1.55% APY, 36 months increased to 2.40% APY or 60 months at 3.0% APY. Tax-advantaged 529 savings plans are available from Sallie Mae’s Upromise Investments. The High-Yield Savings Account and Certificates of Deposit by Sallie Mae are products of Sallie Mae Bank, member FDIC.

Sallie Mae recommends students follow a “1-2-3 approach” to paying for college: first, use free money by filling out the FAFSA to access need-based grants and research and apply for scholarships, supplemented with current income and savings, such as the High-Yield Savings Account, Certificates of Deposit and 529 plans by Sallie Mae. Second, explore federal loans. Third, fill any gap by using a pay-interest-as-you-go private education loan. For example, Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan helps reduce the total finance charges paid over the life of the loan and helps you pay off sooner.

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Saturday, May 8, 2010

Georgia Charter Schools Commission Ruled Constitutional

/PRNewswire/ -- Arguments advocated by McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP (MLA) were supported in a quick decision May 7 by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Wendy L. Shoob, who ruled from the bench that the law creating the Georgia Charter Schools Commission is constitutional.

Judge Shoob ruled that, contrary to the claims of seven school districts, the state of Georgia has the authority to approve charter schools and, consistent with the Georgia Constitution, commission charter schools are allocated only state and federal funds, not local school tax or bonded indebtedness revenue. The plaintiff school districts were Bulloch, Candler, Coweta, DeKalb, Griffin-Spalding and Henry counties, and the City of Atlanta.

The districts had sued the Georgia Charter Schools Commission, the Georgia Department of Education, the Georgia Board of Education, and three schools that had been approved by the commission: Ivy Preparatory Charter Academy in Norcross, the Charter Conservatory for Liberal Arts and Technology in Statesboro and Heron Bay, which will open in fall 2011 in Henry County.

The suit alleged that the commission was an independent school system in violation of the state constitution. Shoob ruled that the commission charter schools were created pursuant to a special schools provision in the constitution. She said commission charter schools are not required to be under the control of a local school district, and that the funding of the schools is constitutional.

Judge Shoob ruled that, contrary to the districts' claim, the law that created the commission, HB881, was constitutional.

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Friday, May 7, 2010

Georgia Southern University to Offer Online Master of Science in Computer Science

The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents approved a new online Master of Science in Computer Science degree in Georgia Southern University's Collge of Information Technology. Classes in the new program are set to begin in the fall of 2010.

"The online Master of Science in Computer Science degree program is another example of how Georgia Southern’s College of Information Technology is leading the way in preparing professionals for a future in a field that touches every aspect of our lives," said Georgia Southern University President Brooks Keel. "As the only College of Information Technology in Georgia we are dedicated to educating professionals who will have a large impact on the businesses and industries already in Georgia, and whose presence here will attract new ones as well."

The program is the latest addition to Georgia Southern’s growing list of 100 percent online programs that are opening up educational opportunities for professionals and other non-traditional students. The University’s online programs are particularly attractive for individuals who need more flexibility in order to complete a degree and may not be able to travel to the University’s main campus.

"A student’s distance from Georgia Southern, or the obligations of a demanding career, used to stand in the way of many professionals pursuing degrees," said Gary Means, provost and vice president for academic affairs at Georgia Southern University. "Our new online Master of Science in Computer Science degree program will allow students to do their coursework and interact with professors and classmates when it is convenient for them and without interfering with their day-to-day responsibilities."

The online Master of Science in Computer Science degree is the first graduate degree to be offered by Georgia Southern’s College of Information Technology, which was founded at Georgia Southern University in 2003. Since that time, the College has quickly positioned itself as a leader in information technology higher education. The College was the first four-year institution in the world to teach virtualization on VMware and its undergraduate game design program was recently ranked one of the top in the U.S. and Canada by The Princeton Review.

"This new masters degree program is an important step for the College of Information Technology and our students," said Interim Dean Ronald Shiffler. "There is a definite need and we are seeing an increasing demand for information technology professionals. This new online program has been specifically designed to provide an advanced level of education and expertise in a high-demand field."

The degree program places an emphasis on data mining and data warehousing and will prepare students for positions including data warehouse managers and architects, business intelligence engineers, database application developers and principle data analysts.

"There are many IT professionals actively involved in using databases and database queries. This masters degree program carries their knowledge one step further, allowing them to understand how to query information from sources that are not as strictly organized as databases," said Jim Harris, who leads the department of computer sciences in the College of Information Technology.

The online Master of Science in Computer Science is a 30-hour degree program that can be completed by taking two courses a semester for five semesters. The courses in data mining and data warehousing will be taught by faculty who are internationally recognized in their fields.

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Mayor Kasim Reed to Recognize 75 Gates Millennium Scholars From Atlanta Area

/PRNewswire/ -- The United Negro College Fund (UNCF) today announced that 75 Gates Millennium Scholars from Atlanta and surrounding counties in Georgia will be recognized at a reception hosted by The Honorable Kasim Reed, at Atlanta's City Hall, Thursday, May 13. These students are a part of the 2010 Class Gates Millennium Scholars.

The good-through-graduation college scholarships awarded through the Gates Millennium Scholars Program can be used at colleges or universities of the recipients' choice and have funding that can include graduate study through a doctoral degree in seven academic disciplines.

The 1,000 students selected nationwide are joining over 13,000 Gates Scholars from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and five American territories including American Samoa, Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Gates Scholars have an average graduation rate of almost 80 percent, which is higher than the national average rate.

"I want to congratulate the students from Atlanta who have been accepted into the Gates Millennium Scholars Program," Mayor Reed said. "This program, our nation's largest source of minority scholarships, enables thousands of dynamic students to attend college and ultimately become some of our nation's best and brightest leaders."

"I also want to acknowledge and thank the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNCF's President, Dr. Michael L. Lomax and program administrators of this program for contributing greatly to the success of our youth," Reed added.

Established in 1999 with the goal of developing the next generation of leaders for the global economy, the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is funded by a $1.6 billion grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In addition to financial assistance, Gates Millennium Scholars receive academic support, mentoring and leadership training.

"The 20,000 young men and women who will attend college as Gates Millennium Scholars will make a major contribution to helping the United States fulfill President Obama's goal of regaining for America world leadership in the proportion of citizens with college degrees," said Michael L. Lomax, UNCF President and CEO. "The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is an investment in both the futures of these students and the country's economic and social strength and competitiveness."

UNCF's management of the Gates Millennium Scholars Program is a partnership with the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars (AIGCS), the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund (APIASF) and the Hispanic Scholarship Fund (HSF) to serve Gates Millennium Scholars in all fifty states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Middle school students get a feel for the brain

On a sunny spring day at Zoo Atlanta, 13-year-old Tamecia Burson literally got hands-on with the human brain.

With the encouragement of Michael Black, a post-doctoral researcher in GSU’s Neuroscience Institute, the seventh grader cautiously reached out to touch the brain’s gyri and sulci, or folds and grooves, before she quickly pulled away.

“I really don’t like touching stuff like that,” she said, “but I’m glad I did it anyway.”

Burson was one of 180 students of Decatur’s Renfroe Middle School who took part in the April 30 Brain Expo, sponsored by the Center for Behavioral Neuroscience.

The center, headquartered at Georgia State, is a consortium of seven Atlanta-area universities, dedicated to furthering research into neuroscience, as well as educating students from elementary school through college about a field that explores the mysteries of the mind. The expo has been produced since 2003.

“My students get an opportunity to experience firsthand the things we we’ve talked about in class,” said Susan Brooks, a seventh-grade science teacher at Renfroe whose class attended the event. “The expo is wonderful because I don’t always have the resources to put on an activity like that.”

Students made their way around teaching exhibits, ranging from the opportunity to touch a human brain, to learning about the phantom limb phenomenon — where the brain can still feel a limb even though it might be amputated. They also learned about sleep, memory, and the effects of alcohol on the brain by trying to dunk a basketball through a hoop while wearing visual distortion goggles.

“I really liked the optical illusion [station] and the ‘too drunk to dunk’ one,” said Mirina Garoufalidis, 12. “The opportunity to touch the brain was interesting, and I also liked learning about sleep.”

The expo was also more than an opportunity for middle school students to learn. Undergraduate and graduate students, as well as high school students from Central Gwinnett High School all took responsibility to operate and create the exhibits, learning more about teaching through the process.

Teaching, as the students of GSU’s Biology 4916/6916 course learned through preparation for the expo, is no small task.

For starters, after you’ve learned so much about neuroscience at advanced levels, figuring out how to explain concepts in a simple fashion and to make them accessible to 12 and 13-year-olds isn’t easy.

“It’s hard to explain these concepts to middle school students, and it takes a lot of effort to create exhibits that will help them understand,” said Mahin Shahbazi, a doctoral student at GSU.

In the end, though, all of that hard work pays off when you’ve sparked a student’s interest in science.

“Not only are we helping to develop new knowledge among both populations of students, the visiting middle schoolers and the university students, but we’re also generating a new enthusiasm for science,” said Kyle Frantz, associate professor of neuroscience and Director of the Expo.

The experiences learned through the process will help Ashley Belflower, a graduating senior at Georgia State, pursue her dream of teaching elementary school pupils. She designed and worked a station that demonstrated the importance of learning and physical activity in order to keep the brain active and its connections alive — something that’s important throughout the lifespan.

“The students have to figure out solutions to problems we present, learning which brain parts might be most active during the process,” she said. “I hope that they would like to pursue neuroscience one day, and I hope that they learn that science is important. I want them to realize that it’s fun, not something that’s boring.”

The Center for Behavioral Neuroscience includes Georgia State, Emory University, Georgia Tech, Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, the Morehouse School of Medicine and Spelman College.

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