Vouchers, teacher planning time, literacy education, and waiver updates
Vouchers, teacher planning time, literacy education, and waiver updates
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Thursday, March 2, 2023 - Day 27
Archive of Past Legislative Alerts 

Bill proposes to give every student in Georgia $6,000 for private school

CONTACT YOUR STATE SENATOR NOW urging a "NO" vote on SB 233, an unprecedented and radical bill that would give any student in Georgia a $6,000 state-funded voucher to be used at a private school of their choice.  The cost to taxpayers and schools in Georgia could exceed $1 billion a year!

The bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Education and Youth Wednesday and is likely to be set for a vote of the full Senate Monday.

Contacting your Senator is easy
Click here to get started.  This link will show a sample letter to send to your Senator.  Please take the time to personalize this letter by introducing yourself and adding your words why vouchers are bad for public education in Georgia and your community and school.

SB 233 forces hard-working Georgians to pay the private school tuition of more wealthy families.
FOR MORE DETAILS ON THE BILL, see yesterday's Legislative Alert.
Private schools in orange counties will benefit the most from SB 233.
Counties in white or yellow will be donor counties to private schools in other counties.

Click here to tell you Senator "NO" on SB 233.

House Education Committee passes teacher planning time legislation

HB 340, a bill that would strengthen duty-free lunch laws in grades K-5, was passed in a meeting of the House Education Committee this morning.  The bill also adds a new planning period in grades K-12.

The bill is an important step in recognizing the rights and needs of educators and draws attention to some of the reasons why educators today feel such stress and burnout.

"Planning period" is described in the bill as: "A block of time when a teacher is not responsible for the direct supervision of student safety or conduct or for providing instruction to students."

The bill also states: "
No local board of education shall increase the number of hours to be worked by an employee as a result of such employee's being granted a planning period ..." and "planning period[s] shall not be calculated under any circumstances as a part of any daily lunch period or other non-instructional time."

bill could be voted on by the House Monday if it is added to the calendar by the House Rules Committee.

Two literacy education bills advance today

The House Education Committee also today approved two bills addressing literacy education in Georgia.  The bills could be scheduled for a vote of the full House Monday.

HB 537
concerns evidence-based literacy training for licensed child care providers under the Department of Early Care and Learning (DECAL).  It also includes requirements for re-certification in P-5 teaching fields and in the teaching fields of English Language Arts through the Professional Standards Commission (PSC).  GACE assessments would need to be aligned with developmentally appropriate evidence-based literacy instruction.

HB 538 - amended several times today by the committee - is not yet updated online to reflect the changes made today.  The bill appears to require, among other things, the State Department of Education "
provide a universal reading screener that ... shall be made available for use free of charge to public schools and local school systems" and tasks the State Board of Education with the approval of high-quality instructional materials to be used for teaching students (K-3) to read."

The bill also requires the Department - in consultation with the University System of Georgia (USG), the Professional Standards Commission (PSC), the Governor's Office of Student Achievement (GOSA), Georgia's Regional Education Service Agencies (RESA), and literacy experts - to develop one or more training programs for kindergarten through third-grade teachers on the science of reading, structured literacy, and foundational literacy skills that enable students to develop reading skills required to meet state standards in literacy.

Two other bills were also approved.  HB 469 requires a
ccurate school building floor plans and school-property site plans overlaid on current aerial imagery of a school building or school property to assist emergency responders in the event of a crisis.  Such maps are not to be publicly disclosed.  The second, HB 506, narrows the scope of what an accrediting agency can consider to the "quality of learning by students" and the "financial efficiency" of a school or school district.

Earlier this week, the state Senate approved legislation to create the Georgia Council on Literacy, SB 211.  The Council would be charged with developing best-practices standards and goals, and causing their implementation.  The bill also would require the development of a
common metric for literacy scores for kindergarten through grade 12 and improving literacy rates among low-income and ESOL students.  SB 211 contemplates additional QBE (Quality Basic Education) funding for literacy education, among other things.

>>> GAE bill to eliminate waivers filed <<<

State Sen. Nabilah Islam, D-Lawrenceville, has filed legislation (SB 268) to prevent school systems in Georgia from ignoring certain state laws pertaining to public education, including laws related to:
  • Student health and physical education requirements,
  • Duty-free lunch time for educators,
  • Protection of educators' fair dismissal rights,
  • Maximum class sizes,
  • Requirements that teachers be certified,
  • Adherence to state teacher salary schedules, and
  • Expenditure controls.
Under a law unique to Georgia, school systems in Georgia may choose to ignore public-education laws simply by asking the State Department of Education for approval of their request.  To our knowledge, no school system has ever been denied their request.  All but 2 of the 181 school districts in Georgia have waivers from state public-education laws.  State-chartered systems are automatically allowed to choose which state laws they want to follow.  Bizarre, isn't it?

Waivers harm students and teachers.  GAE appreciates Sen. Islam for filing this important legislation.

Senate rejects 'sports betting' bill
Legislation to legalize betting on sporting events in Georgia was soundly defeated in the Senate this afternoon, 19-37.  If SB 57 were to have become law, it would have benefitted existing state lottery-funded education programs.
Senate rejects creation of 'Buckhead
City' out of Atlanta neighborhood
A measure to create a new city out of the Buckhead neighborhood in Atlanta failed to pass the Georgia Senate this afternoon.  SB 114, which would have had significant and potentially detrimental affects on students, teachers, and schools in the City of Atlanta and Fulton County, was rejected on a 23-33 vote.

Next Update will be Crossover Day, Monday, March 6

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