Posted inDavid Pendered

Gov. Deal announces winners of teaching contest funded by Obama’s education initiative, Race to the Top

Gov. Nathan Deal announced today a round of state teaching awards, months later than planned and after Deal defeated state school Superintendent John Barge in the Republican gubernatorial primary election.

Georgia created the Innovation in Teaching Competition as part of the state’s implementation of President Obama’s Race to the Top initiative, which is to provide $400 million to Georgia through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

This fourth round of awards was slated to be announced in spring 2014, according to a state website. Teachers from metro Atlanta school districts dominate the overall winners list.

Posted inDavid Pendered

DeKalb County school district: Credit rating stable, also wins $3 million grant from Wallace Foundation

A New York credit rating agency on Tuesday assigned a top score to the $36 million bond package the DeKalb County school district intends to sell Wednesday.

Also Tuesday, the Wallace Foundation announced DeKalb as a recipient of a $3 million grant to improve the leadership skills of its principal supervisors or regional superintendents, and to increase the number of regional superintendents in order to reduce a span-of-control that now averages 27 direct reports.

Taken together, the measures mark the continuation of the district’s slow but steady improvement from situations involving its accreditation probation and fiscal management in the 16 months since the DeKalb school board first named former state Labor Commissioner Michael Thurmond as interim superintendent.

Posted inDavid Pendered

New report on school funding tees up 2014 gubernatorial campaigns

A new report that calls for overhauling Georgia’s method of paying for K-12 education has landed near the starting gate of a potentially contentious gubernatorial campaign.

State Sen. Jason Carter (D-Decatur) has put education reform at the front and center of his new platform. Gov. Nathan Deal responded immediately that he has increased the state’s contribution to school funding despite the recession.

The timing couldn’t be better for a report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute that calls for the creation of a funding program to replace the state’s existing school funding formula, known as QBE (Quality Basic Education).

Posted inDavid Pendered

New study of Georgia’s school funding questions state’s ability to provide skilled workforce to business

A new report on state funding for K-12 education raises some challenging questions about Georgia’s ability to provide a skilled workforce to businesses – especially in areas beyond metro Atlanta.

School districts are coping with funding cuts through measures including trimming days from the school year and assigning more students to each teacher, according to the report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute. School budgets are squeezed by shrinking state support and by the declining local tax base caused by the recession, the report states.

Even as school districts are strapped, the Georgia Department of Economic Development is touting Georgia’s workforce development policies including its support for charter schools, pre-K programs, HOPE scholarships, and strong public technical schools and universities. Georgia has adopted common core standards in math and language arts, and allocates extra funding to districts that provide gifted programs, according to DEcD’s webpage.

Posted inATL Business Chronicle, Maria's Metro

Gates Foundation-backed education nonprofit eyes Atlanta headquarters

By Douglas Sams and Maria Saporta

Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, February 1, 2013

A new nonprofit organization backed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that aims to transform American education is considering Atlanta for its headquarters.

The nonprofit, supported by the world’s largest philanthropic organization, would make Atlanta the center of a cohesive effort to accelerate student achievement in the United States by boosting personalized learning in schools.

Posted inATL Business Chronicle, Maria's Metro

Column: East Lake’s Drew Charter education dream becoming reality

By Maria Saporta
Published in the Atlanta Business Chronicle on Friday, January 18, 2013

The East Lake community is close to realizing its dream of offering top-quality education from cradle to college.

On Jan. 15, Gov. Nathan Deal joined other dignitaries to break ground on the new Drew Charter School Senior Academy at the Charlie Yates Campus in East Lake. The academy will permit Drew to teach students through high school. Currently, the Drew Charter School serves nearly 1,000 students from pre-K through 8th grade.

Posted inDavid Pendered

Morehouse College credit rating cut, Kennesaw State University stable, in volatile higher ed bond market

Morehouse College, the alma mater of Martin Luther King, Jr., has received a credit rating that’s barely investment grade, and with a negative outlook, on $23.4 million in bonds to be sold this week. The rating is just three notches above a rating of speculative.

Kennesaw State University has received a credit rating that’s solid investment grade, and stable, on $41.6 million in bonds slated for sale last month.

These two ratings illustrate the divergence of credit risk among Georgia’s institutions of higher learning. As state lawmakers consider Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposal to borrow almost $200 million this year to expand facilities at public colleges and universities, they face going to market in a sector dinged as negative across the board by Moody’s Investors Services.

Posted inGuest Column

Educational gains in Georgia must not leave minorities and the poor behind

By Guest Columnist DANA RICKMAN, director of the policy and research for the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education

When it comes to education, is Georgia a national leader or is our state bringing up the rear? Over the past decade, Georgia has worked hard to implement education reforms that will strengthen the birth to work educational pipeline and improve outcomes for all students and make us a national leader.

In some areas, these policies have translated into increased outcomes for students. In 2012, Georgia was the only state in the nation to show gains across all national tests: the SAT, the ACT, Advanced Placement (AP) examinations, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in Math, Reading and Science. Georgia is a national leader.

Posted inLatest News

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed tells Kiwanis that ‘surviving is not enough’

By Maria Saporta

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed did not mention to members of the Kiwanis Club of Atlanta on Tuesday that he is running for re-election this year.

But he did make sure to honor a decades-long tradition Tuesday of being the first speaker each year to address the Atlanta Kiwanis.

On Jan. 5, 2010, Reed continued the tradition set by his predecessors, speaking to the group only one day after being inaugurated. And he has followed suit this year.