[gsis_admins] FW: Capitol Opinion January 16, 2015

  • From: "Tarleton, Anna" <Anna.Tarleton@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "gsis_admins@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <gsis_admins@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2015 20:24:56 +0000

I thought you might like to see this information.


From: Terrell, Kim
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2015 12:26 PM
To: Central Office Staff
Subject: FW: Capitol Opinion January 16, 2015

Good afternoon,

Though I have received several updates in recent weeks, I try to only forward 
the ones I think you may be interested in. :)

Have a great weekend,


From: Jimmy Stokes 
[mailto:messages=app.production.membersuite.com@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of 
Jimmy Stokes
Sent: Friday, January 16, 2015 12:00 PM
To: Terrell, Kim
Subject: Capitol Opinion January 16, 2015


The Capitol Opinion

January 16, 2015

Pomp and Circumstance

With great fanfare Governor Nathan Deal was inaugurated for his second term as 
governor on Monday afternoon.  The ceremony was conducted in the House chamber 
after being moved from Liberty Park (the new park on the east side of the 
Capitol) because of rain.  Governor Deal was sworn in by his son who is a 
superior court judge in Hall County.   The Governor presented his State of the 
State addresses to the General Assembly on Wednesday.  The message was 
particularly upbeat and positive about the condition of Georgia's economy and 
the issues that we face.  The Governor placed considerable emphasis on 
transportation (and the fact that the excise tax on gasoline has decline 17% in 
real dollars since 1971) and on changes in criminal justice including his 
support for cannabis oil.  Of primary interest to educators were his two 
surprising announcements.  First the Governor pledged to put over $1 Billion in 
pub lic education over the next two years.  There were no details as to how the 
money will be delivered.  The second announcement caught some observers off 
guard.The Governor will propose a constitutional amendment that will create the 
Opportunity School District.  The district will be statewide and will consist 
of schools and school systems that are "failing".  The apparent definition of 
failing is that the school and/or system have scored below 70 on the CCRPI for 
three successive years.  The Opportunity School District would be empowered to 
make whatever changes are appropriate to get the school and/or system to a 
passing status.  Again, no details as of yet.  Those two items should make for 
an interesting session.

The Governor also elaborated on the Education Reform Commission that he intends 
to appoint.  The Commission will make recommendations about the improvement of 
education and will contain several subcommittees.  One of the subcommittees 
will look at restructuring the QBE-a massive task undertaken by other Reform 
Commissions with no success.  Dr. Susan Andrews, former DOE Deputy for Race To 
The Top and former Muscogee Superintendent, will head the Education Reform 

And Here's Richard...

Richard Woods was sworn in as Georgia's new State School Superintendent on 
Monday afternoon.  Woods had avoided numerous questions about what changes he 
will make in the DOE.  His response has been to wait until he was sworn in-that 
has happened and now we wait for the shoe to drop.

Woods identified several issues that he will address as Superintendent.

??? Will conduct a series of Teacher Focus Groups and Community Town Hall 
events across the state to listen to the concerns and ideas of our students, 
parents, and teachers.

Child-Focused and Classroom-Centered

??? Will allow our schools to offer traditional discrete math courses or 
integrated math courses, and to finally address the challenges our individual 
students and teachers face at the high school level.

Common Core
??? Committed to the idea -- as are the Governor and State BOE -- that our 
students deserve the very best standards; proposed revisions are a step in that 
direction. Public comments show that concerns remain -- especially by our 
teachers -- and more revisions need to take place as we hear from educators 
throughout the state.

Science and Social Studies Standards
??? Agreement with Governor and State BOE that our Science and Social Studies 
standards must be Georgia-owned and Georgia-grown.

Foundational Standards
??? Will establish and define foundational standards for K-5 that ensure our 
students have a firm footing for academic success.
??? One basic foundation we must emphasize is identifying reading deficiencies 
early and providing professional development to equip all elementary grade 
teachers to meet the needs of these students (also a shared passion of First 
Lady Sandra Deal).

??? Supports Governor's push for Computer Science to count as a fourth-year 
core math or science credit. Will work with State Board to expand this concept 
by allowing courses such as financial literacy and other Career, Tech and 
Agriculture courses to count as core credit toward graduation.
??? Will look at offering a wide range of diploma seals -- from Career Pathways 
to AP and honors course completion -- to personalize education.

??? Calling on members of the General Assembly to explore ways to diminish the 
burden of excessive testing and will work closely with GaDOE staff to develop 
the most effective diagnostic testing system possible.
??? Will continue working with the State Board on this issue by asking for a 
one-year moratorium on the use of test scores in the CCRPI school-grading 

Teacher Evaluation
??? Will work to free up administrators to focus on teachers entering the 
profession or those who continue to struggle in the classroom, while allowing 
our great teachers to teach and treating them as professionals by allowing 
content- or grade-level peers from surrounding schools or school systems to 
provide these teachers with real professional feedback.
??? Will work to ensure we find the right balance between accountability and 

??? Will work with all parties to ensure that as many dollars as possible flow 
into our classrooms to directly support the success of our students.
??? A critical part of this is creating a funding formula that provides every 
child with access to a quality education -- whether it be a child in Tift 
County or one in Forsyth County.

??? Plan to launch a public awareness campaign to highlight all the initiatives 
taking place in our schools across the state.

"Georgians have a history of pulling together to meet our challenges head on. 
With great challenges come great opportunities," Superintendent Woods said. 
"There are no greater opportunities than the 1.7 million students and 100,000+ 
teachers in our classrooms every day. With a collaborative effort, real 
communication, and the pursuit of classroom-centered and child-focused 
policies, we can realize the full potential of our great state."

Introducing Superintendent Woods Advisors

Cindy Morely-Chief of Staff
Ms. Morely has spent the last four years working on various projects in the 
Department of Labor.  Prior to that time she was a fund raiser for the 
University of West Georgia and prior that that was a sports editor and  chief 
editor of a newspaper in Fayetteville, Georgia.

Matt Jones-Chief Academic Officer
Matt was a classroom teacher in Toombs County for several years before leaving 
the classroom to work on the Vote No to Amendment 1 campaign.  Following his 
work on that campaign he joined Mr. Woods in his campaign for Superintendent.

Roger Hines-Legislative Liaison
Mr. Hines is a  well-liked retired Cobb County teacher and former member of the 
House of Representatives from Cobb County.  He was a candidate for Secretary of 
State running against Cathy Cox.

Bills Began to Flow

HB 1   Medical Marijuana  Haleigh's Hope Act; sponsored by Allen Peake
The bill authorizes the sale of cannabis oil for medical purposes.  The 
Governor has offered support for the bill as long as the marijuana is not grown 
in Georgia.  The bill should pass in some form.
HB 2  Parimutuel wagering on horse racing
Authored by Harry Geisinger was introduced in previous sessions and saw little 
HB 3  Gurley Bill
Provides sanctions for persons that enter into or solicit a transaction with a 
student-athlete that would result in sanctions to the student-athlete.  Good 
chance of passage.
HB 5  Unmanned Aircraft
Limits the use of drones and unmanned aircraft but will permit high school 
athletic teams to continue to use drones to film games and practices.
HB 6  GPA for HOPE
Permits weighted GPA's in excess of 4.0 for IB, AP, and dual enrollment courses 
used in the calculation for HOPE by the Georgia Student Finance Commission.
HB 8  Increases minimum wage
Very little chance of passage.
HB 10  Limits cell phone use by a driver to hands-free devices
Not much chance of passage
HB 16  Permits magnet school students to participate in athletics at their 
resident school
Chance of passage is slim.
HB 23 Eliminates seven year window of eligibility for hope, opens HOPE to older 
This one may find some support.
HB 24  Would enable students to earn Zell Miller Scholarship after their first 
year of college
Changes of passage not good because of increased costs to HOPE program.
HB 25  Expands Zell Miller Scholarship to spouses and children of military 
personnel stationed in Georgia
Lot of questions to be answered such as what happens if military personnel is 
transferred out of Georgia after the spouse or children begin college under the 
Zell Miller Scholarship?  Increased cost to HOPE is also a concern.
HB 30  Prohibits local boards of education from seeking or maintaining 
accreditation by entities which do not make its records relating to sanctions 
open for inspection
Good idea but authored by a Democrat so passage is not probable.
HB 35 Increases the tax credits allowed for private school scholarships
Earl Earhardt will fight hard to get more tax credits for private school 
scholarships and the fate of the bill is not clear.
HB 39 Raises dropout age to 17
Very little chance of passage because of increased costs to local systems.
HB 40  Anti-bullying Bill
Good idea but it is difficult to enforce and it is offered by a Democrat which 
limits its opportunity for passage.
HR 4  Constitutional amendment that permits municipalities to establish 
independent school systems
Support for expanding school systems to more than 180 is slim at best.

SB 2 Permits students to use credits earned in postsecondary institutions to 
retroactively be used to earn a high school diploma.
Should pass but there are lots of details that are yet to be resolved.
SB 12 requires full funding of QBE
Tremendous idea but sponsored by Democrats and has little chance of passage.
SB 13 Requires that University System and Technical College System accept HOPE 
payments as full payment of tuition
Good idea but will be opposed by USG and TCSG.
SB 14 'Pay Forward, Pay Back Student Grant Act'
Permits students to borrow funds for college from Georgia Student Finance 
Commission and then repay them as a portion of the salaries they earn after 
they leave college.  GSFC is not equipped to supervise such loans.
SB 18 College credit for military and work experience
Requires TCSG to establish policies for granting academic credit for college 
level learning from military service and work experience.  Will be opposed by 
SR 14 Constitutional amendment requiring splitting education out of budget and 
requiring passage of education budget before "big" budget can be adopted.
This was a campaign promise by Jason Carter in his run for governor.  Very 
little chance of any Republican support.

How Much is a Job Worth?

Governor Deal has lauded Georgia's luring the corporate offices of Mercedes 
Benz from New Jersey to Atlanta but the major question is the value of such 
given the cost.  To lure the carmaker's U.S. headquarters to metro Atlanta, 
Georgia offered an incentive package valued at about $28,750 per job for 950 
total employees, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  
The value of the total package comes to $29 Million.   That $29 Million in 
taxes has to come from somewhere and the real somewhere is you and me.  The tax 
exemption for one becomes the tax burden for another.    You certainly cannot 
fault Mercedes, they leave the cold, cold north and move to the sunbelt and 
gain $29 million in the process.  The 950 employees are going to have to pay a 
lot of ad valorem taxes and sales taxes to offset the $28,750 per person in tax 
relief that their corporation will receive.  The who le idea of tax waivers and 
tax credits for special interests leaves a bitter taste in many mouths.    But 
alas the $29 Million that Mercedes will receive pales in comparison to the $300 
Million that Delta Airlines receives each year.

The FY 2016 Budget

For only the second time in the past twenty or so years, the budget was not 
released in conjunction with the State of the State address.  We are told it 
will be released today, Friday, January 16.  The General Assembly will not be 
in session all of next week and will conduct budget hearings Tuesday through 
Friday.  (Last year they did all of the budget hearings in one day.)  Next 
week's Capitol Opinion will focus on the budget.

Politics at Winter GAEL Conference

Sunday afternoon, January 25, will focus on politics at the Winter GAEL 
Conference.  Beginning at 3:00 PM on the lower level of the Classic Center in 
Athens, we will hear from Chairman Brooks Coleman, Chairman Lindsay Tippins, 
and Vice Chairman Mike Dudgeon.  Dudgeon will specifically address his proposed 
constitutional amendment to appoint the state school superintendent.  There 
will also be a panel of education lobbyists that we bring you up to speed on 
the legislation that is under consideration.  Beginning at 5:00 PM we will have 
a food and drink reception for the legislators and give you an opportunity to 
meet them.  Please be encouraged to invite your legislators to attend the 
presentations and the reception as GAEL's guest.  It should be a most 
informative afternoon.

Capitol Opinion is authored by Jimmy C. Stokes and is not the official position 
of GAEL or any of its affiliates.  The purpose of this document is to provide 
information and to promote discussion among supporters of public education.  
Stokes may be contacted at jstokes@xxxxxxxx<mailto:jstokes@xxxxxxxx>.

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  • » [gsis_admins] FW: Capitol Opinion January 16, 2015 - Tarleton, Anna