Educators, state play wait and see with Education Reform Commission

August 18, 2015

ATLANTA – “What these hand-picked individuals present to the state in December could obviously be a game-changer for our public schools,” says Dr. Sid Chapman, president of the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE). “It is for that reason we are closely monitoring all of the general and subcommittee meetings of the governor’s Education Reform Commission [ERC] and will give input from the view of actual, current classroom practitioners when and where we can during the proceedings.”

Chapman says his and other state education organizations still feel strongly that representation throughout the education community was not fully included on the commission. “Our organizations represent thousands of Georgia educators, parents and students who have a direct stake in the success of our state’s public education system,” he said. “Because of the commission’s extraordinarily wide examination of our public school system, we felt such inclusion would have shown an unbiased and balanced approach to discussions that will have such a major impact on our public schools and students.”

On GAE’s radar principally is the review of the school funding formula know as QBE, the idea called “backpack funding” where tax monies follow the child wherever they may go – even to the private sector, and the possibility of eliminating our teachers’ pay supplements for their hard work in obtaining advanced degrees.”

“Possibly reducing the QBE formula that would exacerbate the situation in already underfunded school systems, is just not a wise policy,” stressed Chapman. “The current formula, of which its time has arguably come and gone, was never fully given a chance to work due to lack of funding since its inception. We trust whatever new formula is presented would actually be fully resourced.”

On backpack funding, GAE always has been against public education money being used for private education institutions. “Anything that takes monies from already chronically-underfunded public schools we will stand against,” says Chapman.

“When teachers make the decision to advance their skills for themselves and their students, we believe they should be compensated as such,” stresses Chapman. “We believe the policy of the Professional Standards Commission, which currently does this, provides for the compensation that our teachers who have taken the time to advance their knowledge, deserve.”

Finally Chapman says GAE looks forward to the commission’s report with cautious optimism. “We will be prepared to present our own policies when and where we feel it is necessary.”