Monday, June 28, 2010

Public School Systems Spend More than $10,000 Per Pupil in 2008

In 2008, public school systems spent an average of $10,259 per pupil, a 6.1 percent increase over 2007. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia spent above this amount; 32 spent less.

These data come from Public Education Finances: 2008, which provides tables on revenues, expenditures, debt and assets (cash and security holdings) of elementary and secondary public school systems with data for the nation, states and school districts. The tables also include more detailed data on spending, such as instruction, school lunches, transportation and salaries, among others.

“This report on public school spending shows us how taxpayer money is being spent on education,” said Lisa Blumerman, chief of the Governments Division at the U.S. Census Bureau. “Public education is the single largest category of all state and local government expenditures. These data provide a detailed picture of how available resources are spent within the public education system.”

Public school systems received $582.1 billion in funding in 2008, up 4.5 percent from 2007. Of that amount, state governments contributed 48.3 percent, followed by local sources, which contributed 43.7 percent, and federal sources, which made up the remaining 8.1 percent (see Table 5).

Public school systems’ spending was up 6.0 percent in 2008, totaling $593.2 billion.
Total current spending was $506.8 billion (85.4 percent), of which $304.8 billion went to instruction, followed by $175.9 billion, which went to support services, such as transportation and school maintenance (see Table 6).

Total school district debt increased by 7.9 percent in 2008 to $377.4 billion (see Table 10).

Other highlights:

-- States and state equivalents that spent the most per pupil were New York ($17,173), New Jersey ($16,491), Alaska ($14,630), the District of Columbia ($14,594), Vermont ($14,300) and Connecticut ($13,848) (see Table 11).

-- States that spent the least per pupil were Utah ($5,765), Idaho ($6,931), Arizona ($7,608), Oklahoma ($7,685) and Tennessee ($7,739).

-- Instructional salaries made up the largest spending category for public elementary and secondary education at $203.5 billion (40.2 percent) in 2008 (see Table 6).

-- The percentage of public school funding from the federal government was highest in Louisiana (16.8 percent), Mississippi (16.0 percent) and South Dakota (15.2 percent) and lowest in New Jersey (3.9 percent), Connecticut (4.2 percent) and Massachusetts (5.1 percent) (see Table 5).

-- The percentage of funding from state government was highest in Vermont (88.5 percent), which surpassed Hawaii (84.8 percent) this year, where elementary and secondary education is run by the state government, followed by Arkansas (76.0 percent). The percentage of funding from state government was lowest in Nebraska (33.0 percent), South Dakota (33.2 percent) and Illinois (33.8 percent).

-- Among states, the percentage of funding from local governments was highest in Illinois (58.2 percent), Nebraska (57.3 percent) and Connecticut (57.3 percent) and lowest in Hawaii (3.0 percent), Vermont (5.0 percent) and Arkansas (13.4 percent).

-- The $254.1 billion schools received from local sources included $218.4 billion from taxes and local government appropriations (see Table 4).

-- Property taxes accounted for 63.7 percent of revenue for public school systems from local sources.

The data used in the tabulations came from a census of all 15,569 public school districts. As such, they are not subject to sampling error. Although quality assurance methods were applied to all phases of data collection and processing, the data are subject to nonsampling error, including errors of response and miscoding. For more information, visit the Census Bureau’s Website at .
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Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges Names Baxter as Next President

The Board of Trustees of the Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges (GFIC) has appointed Susanna L. Baxter, Ed.D., as its new president. Currently serving as chief operating officer of the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, Dr. Baxter will begin her presidential duties on August 15.

“We are extremely pleased to have Susanna Baxter in this important role,” said GFIC Board Chair Bonnie Wurzbacher. “She brings decisive leadership, extensive experience and, most importantly, enthusiastic vision for independent higher education. We believe she will increase the visibility and appreciation not only of Georgia’s independent colleges and universities and the exceptional opportunities they provide, but also for all higher education institutions across the state. She will be a true asset to our organization and its future.”

The final selection was made after a four-month national search that included more than 100 highly qualified candidates. The search committee included five college and university presidents and four community and business leaders.

“Susanna clearly has a passion for independent higher education,” said Dan McAlexander, DMA, president of LaGrange College and chair of the presidential search committee. “Throughout the selection process, her enthusiasm advocating for private education and for creating collaborative initiatives that benefit the operations and goals of each member institution was evident. She is a highly respected leader among her peers and knows how to attract both ideas and funding to accomplish goals and initiatives. She will implement GFIC’s strategic plan of supporting private higher education through public policy, public awareness, fundraising for student financial aid and collaborative projects in partnership with institutions, businesses and community leaders. ”

In her new role, Dr. Baxter will emphasize the importance and value of independent education to Georgia, working closely with elected officials, foundation officers, state institutions, and influential business and community leaders. She will be responsible for creating an effective political base that can assist elected officials in the creation of policies and practices that benefit private higher education in the state. Among her priorities will be advocating the benefits and equality of continuing and increasing student aid programs, such as the Georgia Tuition Equalization Grant and the HOPE Scholarship. She also will seek ways to initiate collaborative programs and partnerships that will benefit the member institutions and the 60,000 students who attend them.

“Private colleges and universities in Georgia are an important part of the State's educational legacy and are poised to be strategic partners in meeting its educational goals for the future,” said Dr. Baxter. “I am pleased about this opportunity to advocate for students seeking a high-quality, affordable education in a diverse educational environment that best fits their academic, social and spiritual needs. To this end, I look forward to working with GFIC member presidents, corporate partners, elected officials and civic leaders.”

Dr. Baxter has focused her career on independent higher education. She joined the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association (TICUA) in 2000 as director of Member Services and Grants, working with the 35 member institutions. In 2001, she became vice president of the department. With her thoughtful approaches and diligent work style, she become known for offering informed, entrepreneurial and collaborative solutions when addressing concerns and needs of member institutions. Using grants from foundations and government agencies and soliciting sponsorships, she provided services to the Tennessee membership either affordably or at no cost.

In 2007, Dr. Baxter was named chief operating officer of TICUA. Her work has included developing and administering a $12 million self-funded health benefit consortium for member institutions and creating and maintaining a $23.7 million statewide procurement program. Also, she coordinated the creation of a statewide higher education alcohol and other drug prevention program.

Before joining TICUA, she was an administrator at Barton College in Wilson, North Carolina, for two years, serving as director of Residence Life and then dean of students. Her roles enabled her to work directly with students as their academic advisor, mentor and teacher.

Dr. Baxter knows firsthand the value of independent higher education from the perspective of a student. She graduated summa cum laude from Pfeiffer College in 1996 with a bachelor of arts degree in Christian Education and Religion. She earned both her master of education degree in General Administrative Leadership in 1997 and doctor of education degree in Higher Education Leadership and Policy in 2007 at Vanderbilt University.

About the Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges
Founded in 1956, the Georgia Foundation for Independent College is the unified voice of 25 independent colleges and universities in Georgia. Located in Atlanta, the Foundation serves its member colleges and universities in the areas of shaping and analyzing public policy, conducting fundraising for student scholarships and financial aid, and initiating collaborative programs in partnership with business and community leaders and member institutions. More information is available at www.georgiacolleges.org. The Georgia Foundation for Independent Colleges engaged the executive search firm of Myers McRae to conduct this presidential search. More information is available at www.myersmcrae.com.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Former Students Realize Online Education Can Help Them Get Ahead in Tight Economy

/USNewswire/ -- Teen pregnancy, poverty, discipline problems, and boredom. The reasons for high school dropout are many, and rarely spur of the moment. Moreover, according to a recent speech by President Obama, this translates to more than 3,300 American youth dropping out of high school every day.

Dropout is most common following a long process of disengagement and academic struggle. These students have run out of motivation and have minimal support or encouragement in school or at home.

Sadly, for many, it's the start of a trend that will follow them for life. Without a high school diploma, they will have a harder time finding a job, and they will earn much less when they do find one. They are more prone to health issues, living in poverty, and having children at an early age, who in turn have a higher propensity to drop out of high school themselves.

Today, high school dropouts earn about $10,000 less each year compared to workers with diplomas, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In addition, in today's economy, the employment chain has changed dramatically, threatening these lower rungs of the earning ladder. Many jobless baby boomers find themselves competing for jobs with college graduates and undergraduates, while college students are competing with high school students and dropouts. March unemployment figures from the federal Bureau of Labor show that unemployment was 13.3% among people 25 and older with less than a high school diploma, compared to 8.5% overall.

Online Education Offers Hope for the Future

While many teen dropouts eventually go back to school to get their diploma and then on to earn a college degree, going back comes at a price. With the window for state-funded schooling closed, returning students now must make the sacrifice to go to school as a working adult and pay tuition.

The good news is that there are ways to obtain a high school education without spending a lot of money. Online education schools such as Ashworth High School, whose online high school program is regionally accredited by Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI), recently became even more affordable this summer by reducing tuition on its general, college preparatory and vocational programs by as much as 35%.

"Education is an essential part of our country's DNA," said Gary Keisling, Ashworth President and CEO. "With approximately 1.2 million drop outs annually, we're committed to making high school accessible and affordable when these former students are ready to study again."

"Not only is our tuition as much as 55% less than other online high schools, when you account for any transfer credits and the elimination of expenses such as transportation and child care, a student saves even more," Keisling added. He also went on to explain that another benefit of studying online is the added advantage of a self-paced curriculum which can be arranged around full-time jobs and/or family obligations.

The Sloan Survey of Online Learning Report states that online education has increased by over 16% in the past three years, and growth is projected to continue, as the benefits become widely known.

Let the Student Beware: Accreditation vs. a Diploma Mill

According to Dr. F. Milton Miller, Ed.D. and Ashworth College Vice President of Education, students who do a little homework to learn about accreditation can have peace of mind that their education will be respected by employers. "Employers often want proof that applicants have the right credentials, and one of the most important things they look for is a diploma from an accredited school," he said.

When seeking out an online high school, one needs to make sure the institution is accredited. Dr. Miller advises, "if you want your diploma to be accepted by employers and other schools, your best bet is to enroll in a school where the accrediting body is approved by the Department of Education." Dr. Miller cautions "diploma mills will either openly sell degrees for cash or pretend to be legitimate. Sadly, many students 'graduate' from these diploma mills thinking they have earned a real degree."

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Governor Perdue to Appoint Brad Bryant as State School Superintendent

Governor Sonny Perdue has announced that he would appoint Brad Bryant as State School Superintendent.  Bryant will take office July 1, to fill the term of Superintendent Kathy Cox who resigned to head an education think tank in Washington, D.C..  Bryant will also run for election in November as an independent.

“Brad has a wealth of experience as a parent, local school board member and State School Board member,” said Governor Perdue.  “He has done the big picture work and, on the other end of the spectrum, he understands what must take place in individual schools across the state to help students be successful.  He understands the blocking and tackling that has to happen to increase learning.”

“It’s an honor to be asked to serve as State School Superintendent,” said Bryant.  “As a parent who had children in public schools and whose wife continues to work in one, I know the challenges we face and how important a quality education is to our state’s future.”

Bryant has resigned as the 4th District representative on the State Board of Education, where he has served since 2003. He is also the past President of the National Association of State Boards of Education.  Bryant also worked as a Special Liason to the Clayton County and Warren County school systems to help them regain their accreditation.  Bryant served on the DeKalb County Board of Education for twelve years, including seven years as its Chair.

"Brad Bryant is an excellent choice for State Superintendent.  He is intelligent, experienced and passionate about ensuring success for all the students of Georgia,” said Superintendent Cox.  “I have enjoyed working with Brad on the State Board Education the last seven years.  I know that Brad is a supporter of the reforms we have begun in Georgia and will continue the hard work we have started.”

"Brad will make an outstanding State School Superintendent," said Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent Alvin Wilbanks.  "Having served on local and state boards of education he knows what school districts need for our students to excel."

"Brad Bryant certainly has the experience and leadership skills to perform the duties of the state school superintendent in an outstanding manner," said Steve Smith, Lowndes County Superintendent and president of the Georgia School Superintendents Association. "He commands the respect of board members, superintendents, teachers and his constituents."

A complete biography of Bryant is below:

William Bradley "Brad" Bryant has served as President of the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE), Southern Director and Governmental Affairs Committee Member for NASBE. Prior to his appointment to the State Board of Education in 2003, he served for twelve years as a member of the DeKalb County Board of Education and seven years as its Chair. He is a past President of the Georgia School Boards Association (GSBA) and was President of the National School Boards Association Southern Region. Additionally, he currently on the Georgia Drivers Education Commission. He has also served on the Governor’s Office of Education Accountability Report Card Committee, The Georgia Closing the Gap Commission and the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education.



Mr. Bryant holds a Bachelor’s from Presbyterian College in South Carolina, a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Georgia and a Juris Doctorate from Mercer University (Cum Laude). He is an attorney and a member of the State Bar of Georgia.



Mr. Bryant is an elder in the Rehoboth Presbyterian Church and a member of the Decatur Rotary Club. He has served President of the Presbyterian College Alumni Association and its Board of Visitors. Within his community, he has served as a member of the board of directors of the A*R*T Station, the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Young Life Northlake, and the DeKalb County Development Impact Fee Study Group. He has served as the District Chair of the DeKalb District of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a member of Leadership DeKalb and served for seven years as its Chair. He is a Life Member of the Georgia and the National PTA and received the Georgia Department of Education 1990 Positive Parenting Award for Henderson Mill School. He and his wife Kay, a DeKalb County special education paraprofessional, served as co-presidents of the Henderson Mill Elementary PTA. They have two adult children, Benjamin, an associate with Alston & Bird, and Katherine, a recent double masters graduate in Natural Resources & Sustainability and in International Relations from The American University.

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UWG to Relaunch Women's Tennis Program

Following a nearly 10-year absence, women’s tennis will return as an intercollegiate sport at the University of West Georgia.

Athletics director Daryl Dickey announced plans for UWG’s newest team to begin play during the 2010-2011 season.

“We are very pleased to bring a women’s tennis program back to West Georgia,” said Dickey. “Everyone is excited about the opportunity this brings, and we are all looking forward to fully supporting the program.”

Dr. Michael Ruffner, vice president for university advancement, is enthusiastic about the launch of the new program.

“The new tennis program ... gives us the chance to partner with the community to help make the region a tennis destination,” he said.

West Georgia began competition in women’s tennis during the 1970s. The program moved into the Gulf South Conference during the 1983-84 athletic year, where it remained until being disbanded following an appearance in the 2001 NCAA Regionals.

West Georgia’s most successful season was in 1991. The team captured the GSC title, coach Don Medeiros was named league coach of the year, and three players were named to the All-GSC Team: Stephanie Hicks, Philissa Oliver, and Monica Kamen.

According to Dickey, the search is now beginning to fill the head coaching position for the fledgling program.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Anthem College - Atlanta Coming to Buckhead

/PRNewswire/ -- Students in the Atlanta area interested in pursuing careers in some of the fastest growing job sectors in the U.S. will have a new education provider option, beginning this August.

Anthem College - Atlanta, part of the Anthem Education Group, opens its doors to students in August of 2010. The college will be located at 2450 Piedmont Road NE in the Buckhead section of Atlanta, close to the nearby Lindbergh City Center MARTA transportation station.

Programs to be offered at Anthem College - Atlanta include Associate in Science programs in Medical Assisting, Surgical Technology, Business Management and Paralegal.

"We are excited to be able to offer Atlanta area students the opportunity to explore careers in these fast growing employment fields, with documented job growth," said campus president Steven Temple.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook, job growth in the following fields is projected to grow faster than the average for all occupations:

-- A Medical Assistant is a multi-skilled health professional who plays
an important role as a member of the health care team in a variety of
medical settings. This program introduces students to anatomy and
physiology of the body systems, medical terminology, and required
clinical and administrative skills. The program also features hand-on
laboratory training for students. Employment is projected to grow 34
percent, much faster than average, ranking medical assistants among
the fastest growing occupations over the 2008-18 decade.

-- The Associate in Science degree program in Paralegal is designed to
develop qualified paralegals to have a fundamental understanding of
the legal system to meet the growing needs of the legal field and gain
competence in assisting legal professionals in delivering quality
legal services. Employment of paralegals and legal assistants is
projected to grow 28 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than
the average for all occupations, according to the Bureau of Labor
Statistics 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook Handbook.

-- The Surgical Technology program equips the graduate with skills and
knowledge necessary to meet the requirements of an entry-level
Surgical Technologist. This program provides the background that
enables a student to assume a responsible entry level position as a
member of the Health Care team in a hospital or surgical center. The
Associate in Science Degree Program provides graduates with necessary
critical thinking, problem solving, and communication skills along
with hand-on laboratory training. These skills, combined with the
knowledge gained in this program and work experience, provide future
opportunities in related supervisory roles and/or advanced surgical
specialties in addition to the specific position as a Surgical
Technologist. According to the 2010-2011 Occupational Outlook
Handbook, employment is expected to grow much faster than average with
the best opportunities available to those willing to relocate.

-- The Associate of Science in Business Management degree is designed to
equip students with the knowledge and entry-level skills for
employment in the business environment. The program is balanced on a
theoretical and practical framework derived from the social,
behavioral, managerial, and informational sciences. The program
enables students to evaluate general business issues and focuses on
problem solving in the workplace in relation to other aspects of the
organization, such as employees, customers, suppliers, and society at
large.


For more information on Anthem College - Atlanta and the programs offered, call 678.279.7000 or visit online at www.anthemcollege.edu.

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New Jobs Forecast Predicts Millions of Workers at Risk of Being Left Behind

/PRNewswire/ -- A new, highly detailed forecast shows that as the economy struggles to recover, and jobs slowly return, there will be a growing disconnect between the types of jobs employers need to fill and numbers of Americans who have the education and training to fill those jobs.

The report, Help Wanted: Projecting Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018, by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, forecasts that by 2018, 63 percent of all jobs will require at least some postsecondary education. Employers will need 22 million new workers with postsecondary degrees - and the report shows that we will fall short by three million workers without a dramatic change in course. This translates into a deficit of 300,000 college graduates every year between now and 2018.

"America needs more workers with college degrees, certificates and industry certifications," said Anthony P. Carnevale, the Center's director. "If we don't address this need now, millions of jobs could go offshore."

The Center's study is the first to help Americans connect the dots between employment opportunity and specific education and training choices. The report projects job creation and education requirements through most of the next decade, showing job growth by industry and occupation nationally, and with state-by-state forecasts.

Substantial gains in employment will not occur until 2011. It will take until 2015 for job creation to catch up to where it would have been before the massive recession losses. In 2018, America will need more college-educated workers than it will have.

-- Employers will need 22 million new workers with AA's, BA's or better -
and we will fall 3 million short.
-- In addition, employers will need 4.7 million workers with
postsecondary certificates.


The fastest growing six industries and five occupations will require the highest levels of education, with the exception of sales support and health care support. In 2018, 75-90 percent of jobs in the following industries: Information Services; Private Education Services; Government and Public Education Services; Financial Services; Professional and Business Services and Healthcare Services will require postsecondary education or training. These industries will provide 40 percent of all jobs in 2018. About 90 percent of the jobs in four of the five fastest growing occupational clusters require postsecondary education. They are Healthcare Professional and Technical Occupations, STEM Occupations, Community Services and Arts Occupations and Education Occupations.

Postsecondary education and training determine access to the middle class. Those with only a high school diploma or less are falling out of the middle class.

But what matters most is the occupation for which you prepare. That's why 27 percent of people with certificates and 31 percent of people with AA degrees earn more than the average BA.

The report also provides a state-by-state analysis on jobs and education requirements.

-- The District of Columbia, North Dakota, Minnesota, Massachusetts, and
Colorado will lead the nation in the share of total jobs requiring
postsecondary education.
-- Texas, California, Nevada, Mississippi, and Arizona will lead the
nation in the share of total jobs for high school dropouts.


"Instead of asking whether everyone needs to go to college, we should be asking if we can produce enough workers with high level degrees and credentials that meet the demands of the 21st century economy," said Jamie P. Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation for Education, which supported the research.

Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, put it simply: "The bottom line is: we are under-investing in education. This report shows that the demand for well-educated Americans isn't being met by our current investments."

"We're sending more students to college than ever before, but only about half them will ever earn a degree," said Hilary Pennington, Director of Education, Postsecondary Success & Special Initiatives of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. "This report shows why it is critical that we create the kinds of supports and incentives that help students earn the credentials that employers value."

Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018 is part of the Center's efforts to support such an alignment. One barrier to more effective education and career planning lies in the shortcomings of the official data. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the primary source for projecting education and job requirements, but its estimates of postsecondary education demand between 1998 and 2008 fell short of the actual postsecondary education demand in 2008 by 47 percent. The Center's methodology tested accurately within 4 percent.

Help Wanted: Projections of Jobs and Education Requirements through 2018 is available online at http://cew.georgetown.edu/, or hard copies can be obtained by contacting the Center at cewgeorgetown@georgetown.edu. There are three documents: an executive summary, a national report and a state-level analysis. The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce (cew.georgetown.edu) is an independent, nonprofit research and policy institute that studies the link between individual goals, education and training curricula and career pathways.

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Friday, June 11, 2010

Georgia High Schools Awarded Work Ready Grants

More Than 30 Schools Gain Access to Valuable Work Ready Training Tools

Governor Sonny Perdue today announced 31 high schools throughout the state have been awarded Georgia Work Ready training grants that provide three-year access to the initiative’s skills gap training software, which help students improve their Work Ready Certificate levels. The funding was made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and will provide each school $5,000 of software.

“A Work Ready Certificate shows an individual has the core job skills needed for success today and in the future,” said Governor Perdue. “The Work Ready skills gap training software can help students improve their performance not only on the Work Ready assessment, but also on the graduation test, assist in improving our high school graduation rates and provide students with a better understanding of the skills employers look for in a successful employee.”

Georgia’s Work Ready initiative is based on a skills assessment and certification for job seekers and a job profiling system for businesses. 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.

Each school has agreed to provide the Work Ready assessment to at least 50 percent of its senior class each year for three years and will incorporate the training tools in its curriculum to ensure all interested students at all grade levels have the opportunity access it.

The schools awarded the Work Ready training grants include:

§ Alcovy High School

§ Atkinson County High School

§ Bacon County High School

§ Banks County High School

§ Callaway High School

§ Cedar Grove High School

§ Coffee High School

§ Columbia High School

§ Cook County High School

§ Cross Keys High School

§ Fitzgerald High School

§ Hapeville Charter Career Academy

§ Hawkinsville High School

§ Houston County CAT Center

§ Houston County Crossroads Center

§ Houston County High School

§ Irwin County High School

§ LaGrange High School

§ Lithonia High School

§ McNair High School

§ Northside High School

§ Perry High School

§ Redan High School

§ Stephenson High School

§ Stone Mountain High School

§ Southwest DeKalb High School

§ Towers High School

§ Troup High School

§ Veterans High School

§ Warner Robins High School

§ Wilcox County High School

For more information on the Work Ready initiative please visit the Web site at www.gaworkready.org

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Safe Schools Initiative Challenges the State Board of Education to Strengthen Rule Prohibiting Restraint and Seclusion in Georgia Schools

/PRNewswire/ -- Five leading Georgia disabilities advocacy organizations gathered today at the State Board of Education to implore its members to pass and strengthen a new rule to protect schoolchildren from restraint and seclusion.

The Coalition behind the "Safe Schools Initiative" - the Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO), Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, Institute on Human Development and Disability at the University of Georgia and Parent to Parent of Georgia - declared at a public hearing and press conference its determination to free all children from the harmful practices of restraint and seclusion. They called for the 13-body board to go beyond passing the Rule 160-5-1-.35 as it is currently written but to also strengthen it by adding a safeguard that would require data collection and analysis.

"We applaud the State Board of Education for its commitment to initiate a new rule to better protect our children," said Leslie Lipson, parent leadership support project director, Georgia Advocacy Office. "While this is a milestone, the rule, as it is, isn't enough to stop these widespread, yet hidden, practices. Data collection and analysis are pivotal in identifying schools that need additional support to appropriately maintain a safe educational environment. We must take that next step. We have an opportunity to make history and lead the country in efforts to end the practice of restraint and seclusion."

A 2009 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office revealed that its investigation did not uncover a single web site, federal agency or other entity that collects information on the use of these methods of the extent of their alleged abuse. They also reported finding "hundreds of cases of alleged abuse and death" resulting from the use of physical restraint and seclusion of school children over the last 20 years.

Currently, students in Georgia schools can be restrained or secluded for any reason, in any way and at any time. Rule 160-5-1-.35 would limit the use of restraint and seclusion in Georgia's public schools by prohibiting the use of seclusion, chemical restraints such as prescription drugs, mechanical restraints, or prone restraints. Physical restraint would only be allowed in extreme situations when students are in imminent danger to themselves or others. The board has 30 days to vote on and pass the Rule. The public has the opportunity to provide written comment via email to the BOE at policy@doe.k12.ga.us by July 5.

"This is not a Rule about discipline; it is a Rule about safety. This is not an issue relevant only to children with disabilities or behavioral issues. This issue impacts all of our children," said Eric E. Jacobson, executive director, Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities. "We must shift the culture of Georgia public schools so that all students have the right to receive an appropriate education in a safe environment that fosters learning and encourages the use of positive behavior supports."

With the parents of the 13-year-old Jonathan King who hanged himself in a seclusion room in 2004 standing behind them, the Safe Schools Initiative coalition issued three charges to:

1. Educators: to embrace and adopt the concept of Positive Behavioral
Supports as an alternative to restraint and seclusion.
2. Parents: to act as advocates on behalf of their children.
3. The general public: become a part of the process by submitting written
comments to the BOE in support of the Rule.


"There is nothing smart, educational or positive about restraining or secluding a child," Lipson said. "Together, we can create schools that are safe for children and teachers, provide effective oversight and support, and ultimately protect our children."

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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Governor Perdue joins NGA, CCSSO to Release Common State Academic Standards

Today the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) chose Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee to release a set of state-led education standards, the Common Core State Standards. The English-language arts and mathematics standards for grades K-12 were developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, states, teachers, school administrators and parents. The standards establish clear and consistent goals for learning that will prepare America’s children for success in college and work.

Governor Sonny Perdue, Delaware Governor Jack Markell, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine, Florida Commissioner of Education Dr. Eric J. Smith, American Federation of Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools Andres Alonso, and Vice President of the National Education Association (NEA) Lily Eskelsen participated in today’s announcement in Suwanee and praised the work of the teams that developed the standards.

The event featured a panel discussion moderated by President of Alliance for Excellent Education and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise with Parent-Teacher Association CEO Byron V. Garrett, Group Chief Executive of Accenture’s Health & Public Service Operating Group Steve Rohleder, Georgia State Board of Education Member Brad Bryant and Wisconsin 2010 Teacher of the Year Leah Luke. The release of the standards marks the conclusion of the development of the Common Core State Standards and signals the start of the adoption and implementation process by the states. The year-long process was led by governors and chief state school officers in 48 states, 2 territories and the District of Columbia. The final standards were informed by nearly 10,000 public comments and by standards in other top performing countries so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy.

“America’s ability to compete globally depends on an education system that adequately prepares our students,” Governor Perdue said. “When American students have the skills and knowledge needed in today’s economy, our states and our communities will be positioned to develop a talented workforce that employers covet.”

“Our nation’s governors have committed to this year long effort to create a common set of high expectations for all students. The Common Core State Standards reflect our commitment to cooperation across states to provide the best education for our children and our understanding that strong schools lay the path towards long-term economic success,” said Delaware Governor Jack Markell, who joined via satellite from Delaware

“The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents have a roadmap for what they need to do to help them. Further, these standards provide appropriate benchmarks for all students, regardless of where they live, and allow states to more effectively help all students to succeed,” commented Steve Paine, West Virginia State Superintendent of Schools. “I am excited to have a common framework from which to share best practices with fellow superintendents across the nation. With students, parents, and teachers all on the same page and working together for shared goals, we can ensure that students make progress each year and graduate from school prepared to succeed and build a strong future for themselves and the country.”

“The best understanding of what works in the classroom comes from the teachers who are in them. That is why these standards establish what students need to learn, but do not dictate how teachers should teach. Instead, the standards enable schools and teachers to decide how best to help students reach the standards,” said Florida Commissioner of Education Dr. Eric J. Smith. “We are entering the most critical phase of the movement for Common Core State Standards. It is now up to states to adopt the standards and carry on the hard work of the educators and community leaders that worked to develop them.”

The State Board of Education in Georgia is expected to sign off on the common core standards this summer.

These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school fully prepared for college and careers. The standards are:

Aligned with college and work expectations;
Clear, understandable and consistent;
Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills;
Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards;
Informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and
Evidence- and research-based.
In the coming months, each state will follow its own procedures and processes for adoption of the Common Core State Standards. The NGA Center and CCSSO recognize that meaningful and effective implementation of the Common Core State Standards is critical to achieving these goals. To that end, the two organizations are continuing to work closely with a range of partners on how to best support states and districts as they move from adoption to implementation.


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Georgia Racing to the Top

Governor Sonny Perdue yesterday announced that Georgia has submitted its application to the U.S. Department of Education for the second round of federal “Race to the Top” grants. As part of its Phase II application Georgia added three school districts, Dade, Peach and Pulaski, to the 23 districts that applied in the first round.  The three new districts were chosen to align federal School Improvement Grants with Race to the Top.  The state stands to receive up to $400 million over four years to implement its plan if selected.

“Georgia’s performance in the first round of Race to the Top shows that we are in an incredibly strong position to compete and win,” said Governor Sonny Perdue.  “Race to the Top would continue the direction the state has already been moving in education policy.  Through strong partnerships with diverse districts around the state, we will continue to improve student achievement.”

The Race to the Top fund is a $4 billion grant opportunity provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) to support new approaches to improve schools. The fund is available in the form of competitive grants to encourage and reward states that are creating conditions for education innovation and reform, specifically implementing ambitious plans in four education reform areas:

Adopting standards and assessments that prepare students to succeed in college and the workplace and to compete in the global economy;
Building data systems that measure student growth and success, and inform teachers and principals about how they can improve instruction;
Recruiting, preparing, rewarding, and retaining effective teachers and principals, especially where they are needed most; and
Turning around our lowest-achieving schools.
Georgia’s application was prepared through a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Office of Student Achievement, the Georgia Department of Education and education stakeholders. Four working groups and a fifth critical feedback team consisting of teachers, principals, superintendents, higher education faculty, non-profit and informal education organizations, state policy makers, and members of the business and philanthropic communities developed the ideas for inclusion in the state’s application.

Recommendations focus on strengthening traditional and alternative preparation programs for teachers and leaders, supporting teachers more effectively in the classroom, evaluating teachers and leaders with consistent and objective criteria that inform instruction, and rewarding great teachers and leaders with performance-based salary increases.

The application also calls for Georgia to adopt and implement common curricular standards and internationally-benchmarked assessments that indicate Georgia’s ability to compete within a globally-connected economy.

26 local school districts have signed on to partner with the state in implementing Georgia’s Race to the Top plan. These districts, which make up 41 percent of public school students in Georgia, include: Atlanta, Ben Hill, Bibb, Burke, Carrolton, Chatham, Cherokee, Clayton, Dade, DeKalb, Dougherty, Gainesville, Gwinnett, Hall, Henry, Jones, Meriwether, Muscogee, Peach, Pulaski, Rabun, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Valdosta and White.  The participating districts include 46 percent of Georgia's students in poverty, 53 percent of Georgia’s African American students, 48 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of the state's lowest achieving schools.

The state will work closely with these systems to implement the ideas contained in the application. 50 percent of the funds awarded to Georgia will be distributed to the local partners to meaningfully enact the Race to the Top reforms. The state will study the effectiveness of these practices to identify and scale up those that prove to be effective.

The U.S. Department of Education estimates that phase two winners will be announced in late August or early September 2010.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation selected 15 states, including Georgia, to benefit from technical assistance for Race to the Top application development. The states were selected based on how well poised they are to win Race to the Top based on progress in education policy and reform. Georgia partnered with The Parthenon Group, a consulting firm based in Boston, which specializes in part in education reform.

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