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Educators honor legislators who helped positively impact public education during legislative session

For Immediate Release
March 24, 2016

ATLANTA- - Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston and State Senator Lindsey Tippins (R-Marietta) were both honored over the weekend for their positive contributions to public education during the 2016 Georgia General Assembly. The legislators received their accolades during the Georgia Association of Educators' (GAE) 46thAnnual Spring Convention held in College Park.

Speaker Ralston was the 2016 recipient of the GAE Friend of Education Award.This award honors those who have made a significant statewide contribution to the betterment of public education and proven to be a true friend of education, students, and educators.

Speaker Ralston did not allow his stature and influence to stand in the way of publicly voicing his concerns over Gov. Nathan Deal's proposed performance based merit pay system as recommended by the Education Reform Commission (ERC). "We believe his decision to disagree with this proposal significantly influenced the direction of the 2016 Legislative Session and played a large part in convincing the governor to both slow the process and allow more time and create a Teacher Advisory Council prior to introduction of ERC legislation," said GAE President Dr. Sid Chapman. "Thank you Speaker Ralston for being a voice for public educators."

Prior to the session, Speaker Ralston met with educators in various North Georgia counties responding to their questions on ERC and addressing standardized testing including frequency and types of tasks. A local media outlet,fetchyournews.com, reported that "a disbelieving look showed on the Speaker's face when two Gilmer County teachers unfolded one section of the 3rdgrade Milestone test, English Language section, from one day of the two day test which is seven pages long."

The article went on to say that Speaker Ralston stated that the visual had such an impact on him that he would use it when presenting education reform initiatives to the legislature.

Speaker Ralston, who lives in Blue Ridge, Georgia, serves House District 7 which includes Fannin and Gilmer Counties and a portion of Dawson County. He has been a member of the state legislature since 1992 having served in the Senate from 1992 until 1998. He was first elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 2002 and became the 73rdSpeaker in 2010.

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Senator Tippins was the recipient of GAE's 2016 Legislator of the Year Award. This award annually recognizes a legislator who has, during the legislative session, made a significant contribution to public education and educators.

Chapman notes that far too long educators across Georgia had voiced their dismay with Teacher Keys Effectiveness System (TKES) and the Leader Keys Effectiveness System (LKES) pointing out flaws in the evaluation systems. "We approached Sen. Tippins early in the 2016 session to discuss possible legislation on this issue, since improving the evaluation system was a top priority for GAE," he said. "Senator Tippins informed our lobbyists that he was already working on legislation to do just that."

The fruit of Sen. Tippins' effort was SB 364, legislation that promised to bring more fairness and balance to teacher and administrator evaluations, while at the same time measuring teacher effectiveness. SB 364 also made revisions to student assessments and the provisions for mastery in reading by the end of third grade and mastery in basic math skills by the end of fifth grade. Senator Tippins worked through the session to assure passage of the bill. He passionately presented the legislation in both the Senate and House Education committees working with legislators in both chambers seeing it through to its final passage.
Chapman adds that GAE is also appreciative of Senator Tippins' support and stance for public education while serving as a member of the Governor's Education Reform Commission. "His reasoning resonated throughout that discussion and fought back proposals that would have been detrimental to our public schools," said Chapman.

Over the years, Senator Tippins' support of public education has been unwavering. He was previously presented GAE's Legislator of the Year in 2013 for his work on the School Finance Study Commission. Senator Tippins' knowledge of local school finance, having served on his local school board, guided the discussion of important financial issues and worked to ensure that local funding for public education be appropriately weighed.

Senator Tippins hails from Marietta, Georgia and was first elected to the Georgia State Senate in 2010. He serves Senate District 37 (northwest Cobb County) and is also chairman of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, member of the Appropriations, Judiciary, and Transportation committees.

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