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Education top priority

POSTED: July 10, 2013 4:00 a.m.

We have recently witnessed the devastation caused by weather events across our country.

As always our country's first responders, firefighters and police officers have responded impressively. Our prayers go out to all those that have been affected by these storms.

One story that resulted from the storm in Oklahoma that really touched me was the teachers that risked their own lives to shield students from harm.

Each and every day across our nation and especially here in Georgia, we have teachers that are dedicating their lives to our children. They may not be called on to risk their lives because of a storm, but they are just as dedicated to seeing that our state's young people receive the highest quality education.

Over the past few years, there has been more and more scrutiny given to how education is delivered in grades K-12.

The federal government has come up with several different plans that they have encouraged states to adopt by extending monetary grants in exchange for compliance.

It is my belief that when our founders established this great nation they intended for education to be delivered by the individual states not by our federal government.

Nowhere in our United States Constitution does it give the authority to provide education to the central government. This is a power reserved under the 10th amendment for the states. This is the reason the Georgia Constitution specifically mentions the state's role in educating our young people. The state does have a constitutional requirement to be involved in this process.

However, we cannot set education policy in a vacuum from under the gold dome in Atlanta. We have too many highly effective classroom teachers that continue to find new and more innovative ways to deliver instruction in their classrooms.

I think most people will agree that a one-size-fits-all education model no longer works. We know that all of our children learn differently and what works for one family may not work for another.

We must develop an educational system that is flexible and takes full advantage of technology.

However as a parent of three daughters that attend public school, I strongly believe that no one knows how to better educate our children than parents and classroom teachers. That is why I continue to look for new ways to engage these two groups and to solicit their input as I sit on the education committee in the House of Representatives.

I have had the opportunity to talk extensively with school board members, school superintendents and administrators over the past few years about education.

As a parent and a former school council member, I have talked with hundreds of parents about education. My wife spent several years on our children's elementary school PTO board, serving two years as its vice president.

We are concerned about our children's education and the future of quality public education in our community and our state. The one group that I feel we do not engage in the public education debate often enough is classroom teachers. A few months ago I met with the school superintendents in my district to discuss how I could engage our brightest classroom teachers in a public education policy discussion.

As a result of these meetings I established an educational focus group made up of classroom teachers in both Lumpkin and Dawson counties.

I have already held the first meeting in Dawson and have the Lumpkin meeting set for just prior to school starting back this fall.

The Dawson meeting was eye opening. I wanted to learn how both the federal and state governments' education policies were affecting the actual delivery of instruction in our classrooms.

It was interesting listening to their thoughts on different topics surrounding this important issue. I am already working with state leaders on a couple of ideas that came from this first meeting. I plan to meet with these two groups on a regular basis.

I will take their thoughts and recommendations and attempt to turn them into positive change for our state. I encourage each of you to reach out to me and share your thoughts on our state's educational system.

I am also working to put together a similar group made up of parents that have chosen to be their child's learning coach and home school their children. We must work together and listen to the views of those that understand our children the best, parents and classroom teachers.

This is one area that we must strive to put politics aside and to do what is in the best interest of our young people. The future of our state and nation depends on it.

Mark your calendars and plan to join me at a "Family Fun Day" at 4:30 p.m. Aug. 17 at Burt's Pumpkin Farm.

Gov. Nathan Deal and many other state and local elected officials from across the area will be joining me there. I am honored to serve as your Representative at the state Capitol.

I am always available to assist you and encourage you to contact me with questions or your opinions.

Rep. Kevin Tanner can be reached on my cell phone at (678) 776-5059, at the Capitol at (404) 656-0152 or by e-mail at kevin.tanner@house.ga.gov.

 

 

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