If you're having trouble viewing this email, you may see it online.

Share this:
Monday, February 12, 2024 - Day 19
Prior Legislative Updates for this Year

Details of amended
voucher bill emerge

A memorandum outlining some of the changes to be made to SB 233, the massive, radical voucher bill that was defeated last session, has surfaced.  Short on details, the memo describes some of the proposed changes to the bill, designed to win support from the 16 Republicans who voted against vouchers last session.

According to the memo, "Priority ... will be given to students whose parent(s) earn 400% or less of the federal poverty ... Once students who qualify at 400% of the federal poverty level, then the remainder of the students who are enrolled in public schools that performed in the lowest 25% of all public schools will be eligible ..."  Four-hundred percent of poverty level, for a family of four, is $124,800 annually and $10,400 a month.

The memo states that the new voucher program will begin in the 2026-2027 school year.

Apparently the amended bill ties educator pay raises to passage of the bill, proposing to codify prior raises in state law.  Codification of pay raises hardly matters when 172 school districts out of 180 districts (95.6%) have waivers that allow them to pay less than the state salary schedule minimums.  The memo also states the bill will include parts of HB 941, which provides state funding for construction or renovation of classroom space for public school systems that offer Pre-K.

More details should be forthcoming soon.

Senate Education Committee to hear bills tomorrow


Tomorrow at 2:30, the Senate Education and Youth Committee will take up four bills, including:

SB 88 (the link is to the committee substitute that will be heard tomorrow.)  The bill defines "gender identity" "as a person's self-perceived, asserted, or claimed gender regardless of the person's sex."

"Gender ideology or queer theory means and includes the beliefs that sex is fluid and changing, that the male-female sex binary does not capture the complexity of the human species ..."

"Sex means the organization of the body parts and gametes for reproduction in human beings and other organisms.  In human beings, there are exactly two sexes, male and female, with two corresponding types of gametes.  The sexes are determined by the biological and genetic indication of male or female, including sex chromosomes, naturally occurring sex chromosomes, gonads, and nonambiguous internal and external genitalia present at birth, without regard to an individual's psychological, behavioral, social, chosen, or subjective experience of gender."

Using these definitions, and others, the bill states:

"No person standing in loco parentis nor the private school which employs him or her shall implement any curriculum or instruction addressing issues of gender identity queer theory, gender ideology, or gender transition, without first providing notice of such curriculum or instruction to and obtaining the express written permission from each parent of each child who will participate in such curriculum or instruction.  Parents shall be informed of the intention of such person or such private school to implement such curriculum or instruction and of the parent's right to inspect the curriculum or instructional material."

Local school boards are directed to develop policies regarding gender identity and gender transition that must include:

   Policies for incorporating appropriate parental involvement when a student approaches school personnel with questions or concerns about the student's gender identity;

•   Policies regarding parental notification of any discussion of gender identity or gender transition initiated by school personnel;

•   Policies for when school personnel should refer students with gender identity or gender transition questions to a designated school administrator, school counselor, school social worker, or other professional for further discussion.

Schools that fail to adopt such policies risk losing state funding and can be barred from GHSA sports. 

Private schools operated by a religious institution have exemptions "to the extent that requirements of this Code section would be inconsistent with the religious tenets of the institution."

If the violation is by an educator as such term is defined in Code Section 20-2-982.1, the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) may initiate an investigation of the educator ...

Also on the agenda is SB 351, the so-called "Protecting Georgia's Children on Social Media Act of 2024" a 19-page bill that requires "character curriculum" to include instruction "methods of promoting responsible digital citizenship and the safe and appropriate use of technology, the internet, and social media."  The state Department of Education is charged with developing a model program, which must include, among other things:

•   the social, emotional, and physical effects of social media on users,
•  the negative effects of social media on the mental health of users, including, but not limited to, addiction,
•  the distribution of disinformation and misinformation on social media, and
•  how to maintain personal security and identify cyber-bullying, predatory behavior, and human trafficking on the internet and social media.

The bill also directs school systems to "prohibit and prevent students from accessing social media platforms through the use of computer equipment, communications services, or internet access that is operated, owned, leased, or otherwise provided by the local board of education, local school system, or public school, except when expressly authorized by a school administrator or teacher solely for appropriate educational purposes."  Such an effort must include "the use of software programs and other technologies reasonably designed and intended to block access to social media platforms."

"Social media platform" is defined as "an online forum that allows an account holder to create a profile, upload posts, view and listen to posts, and interact with other account holders and users."

School districts that fail to adopt a policy in compliance with the provisions of the bill risk state funding.

School boards are also required to adopt cyber-bullying policies.

Also tomorrow in Senate Education, SB 464 will be debated.  The bill provides financial assistance for eligible teachers to purchase school supplies online.  "Eligible teachers" are defined as a teacher who "has the primary responsibility of providing classroom instruction to students for not less than 60 percent of each school day on average, measured weekly."

The House Retirement Committee meets tomorrow but there are no bills pertaining to the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) and the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS) on the agenda.

New bills keep coming in

HB 1186, by Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, requires the publication of individual school and school system ratings on the web site of the Department of Education and local district and individual school web sites.

HB 1198
is a bill authored by Rep. Debra Bazemore, D-Riverdale, that requires the State Board of Education to "establish a pilot immersive writing program for elementary school students."

State Rep. Tyler Paul Smith, R-Bremen, has introduced HB 1221, pertaining to inter-school system student transfers.  The amount of tuition charged by the enrolling system shall not exceed total revenues less federal revenues less state revenues per full-time equivalent student for the local unit of administration that enrolls such student" unless the enrolling students were enrolled in a school that "received an individual school rating" placing it in the lowest 25% of performing schools.  Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville, also has a bill related to student transfers from one public school system to another.  His bill, HB 1194, makes it so only the student and enrolling school district are required to execute a transfer.

Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners, has filed HB 1226, which would require public schools to allow students one-hour of excused, religious moral instruction off campus.  The bill states "Each local education agency may adopt a policy that awards academic credit" for the class.

HR 1083, by Rep. Matt Gambill, would create the House Study Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Workforce for Georgia's Growing Economy.

Sen. Billy Hickman, R-Statesboro, has introduced a proposed Constitutional amendment (SR 575) that would allow up to 15% of ESPLOST funds for "the procurement of materials, supplies, and instructional supports to be used for educational purposes in the classroom."  Currently ESPLOST revenue is limited in use for capital projects and to reduce debts.

House subcommitee makes changes
to Special Needs voucher bill

The Education Policy Subcommittee of the House Education Committee made changes to HB 579, a voucher bill, which makes changes to the qualifications required of a student for the existing Georgia Special Needs voucher.  The bill ostensibly cleans up language regarding the voucher and requires the Department of Education to provide parents with calculations on estimated voucher amounts.  Further, the bill allows parents to appeal the amount of the taxpayer-paid voucher.

The following was added to the bill: "The department [Department of Education] ... shall be authorized to require any pertinent information as it deems necessary from participating schools for the purpose of implementing the program."

The bill moves the full House Education Committee.

Also moving from subcommittee to full committee is HB 1104, which provides for voluntary mental health screenings in grades 6-12 for student athletes "when a school or school district has a policy which requires students who participate in extracurricular sports to have a physical examination."

Confirmed speakers for GAE
2024 Day at the Capitol

State School Superintendent Richard Woods
House Education and House Retirement Committee, David Wilkerson, D-Cobb County
Rep. Chris Erwin, chair, House Education Committee, R-Homer
Rep. Ken Vance, former educator and GAE member, R-Milledgeville
Sen. Nabilah Islam Parkes, D-Duluth, sponsor of GAE's waiver bill, SB 268
Sen. Derek Mallow, D-Savannah

Join your colleagues and fellow GAE members at our 2024 Day at the Capitol

Join your colleagues and friends at the 2024 GAE Day at the Capitol on Thursday, February 22.  Hear and meet from legislators who are influential in the adoption of education legislation and policy.  Click on the photo below to register.
Follow us on: facebook twitter
100 Crescent Center Pkwy, Suite 500 | Tucker, GA 30084 US
This email was sent to hearn.luke@fcboe.org. To ensure that you continue receiving our emails, please add us to your address book or safe list.

manage your preferences | opt out using TrueRemove®.

Got this as a forward? Sign up to receive our future emails.
powered by emma