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Contradictions in Bills on public education
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Last week Rep. Kevin Tanner's bill on how to help our challenged schools in Georgia passed through the State House and will now be discussed and studied in the Senate.

The bill describes how the state will try to help schools that have been deemed failing by a measurement that is yet to be determined by the Governor's Office of Student Affairs.

The bill does recognize in a statement that these schools are in high poverty areas of the state and will require extra community resources to be successful.

However, the bill does not specify where the funding would come from to provide these extra services. The bill suggests that the funds for the new Chief Turnaround Officer will come from the already underfunded and understaffed department of education.

The bill also talks about how these schools will have to be accountable for their progress.

In the meantime, other bills have passed the House and senate which will continue to take funds from public education's already strapped budget.

The budget for public education that the house passed earlier this session underfunds public education by $166 million in austerity cuts in addition to requiring increased local costs for transportation and health insurance.

Then HB 217 passed the state house which would increase the cap on student scholarships from $58 million a year to $100 million by 2023.

Over the years, increases would lead to hundreds of millions of dollars that would not be in the general fund, which in turn means it won't be allotted to public education.

And the kicker here is that although Rep. Tanner's bill requires the challenged schools to be accountable even though they get no extra help, the private schools that receive these funds from our tax money are not required to be accountable for what they teach or what they accomplish.

In addition to these cuts, the state Senate is also considering creating Education Savings Accounts where parents can actually take tax dollars at an estimated cost of $865 million over the program's first three years to go to private schools that are not accountable for their programs.

This is all in line with our new United States Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.

HB 610 now being considered by Congress would take away Title 1 funds for high poverty schools.

Are we setting up our public schools for failure on purpose?

Mike Lane
Dawsonville

 

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