ATLANTA -- “Since their inception, the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) has believed that waivers granted to Charter and Strategic Waiver School Systems have actually been a hindrance and detriment to effective management of our classrooms and school buildings for our students and educators,” said Lisa Morgan, GAE President and DeKalb County kindergarten teacher. “In addition, GAE is on record regarding our opposition to the turnover of public schools to private for-profit entities whose first priority is to make a profit. Thus, we are enthusiastically supporting two new pieces of legislation, HB 518 and 519, recently introduced to the legislative session.”
The first, HB 518 (Reps. Mitchell of the 106th, Evans of the 57th, Wilkerson of the 38th, Scott of the 76th, Lewis-Ward of the 109th, and others), asks to place limitations on certain waivers and variance requests in the name of “flexibility,” and to remove the requirement for a system to choose at least one waiver from a prescribed list of options.
Morgan says a perfect example of the misuse of these waivers is class size. She notes that there are instances where there are now over 40 students in classroom -- even during the pandemic. “There are just too many studies indicating that reducing class sizes increases student learning. It's simple reality, more students in the classroom decreases the opportunity for critical one-on-one attention. What reason could we possible have for not abiding by the class size maximums, especially under the mitigation necessitating smaller groups during the pandemic.”
Other waivers available to school systems that GAE believes do not serve the needs of students and educators include: Health and PE, Duty Free Lunch, and Teacher Certification.