Kira Willis [SS-L]

I am running on the ABCs of Education:  Accountability, Budget, and Community Choice.

Education is, above all else, an individual initiative with community support.  It is not just the teachers who are accountable to our students’ education; parents, teachers, community members, and students, themselves, must be accountable for our children’s education. What has happened since the inception of No Child Left Behind, and will continue if we don’t stop Race to the Top is that no one will be held accountable for our children’s education, and it will continue to deteriorate.  Teachers must be dismissed instead of promoted to a county position. Administrators must be eliminated if they are not doing the work that was assigned to them.  Positions downtown that have not contact with students, and, therefore, do not further the educational progress, need to be pared down to the absolute minimum.

I will be accountable to the people of Georgia; I hear them when they say that the Math 1-2-3 is a debacle; I hear them when they say that teachers are forced to dummy down the curriculum; I hear them when they say that there needs to be another choice than a college prep diploma; I hear them when they say that they want real scores for our tests, not “funny numbers” tossed out to placate Georgia residents.

Eliminating positions in the Department of Education will also help with the budget.  As of right now, the DOE takes up five and a half floors at the Twin Towers.  Why?  What positions are so valuable that can’t be either eliminated or reorganized?  The Georgia Constitution calls for a Free and Appropriate Education for all of Georgia’s students, but how do we do this without breaking the bank?

First we look at all of the mandates that are pushed down to us from the Federal Government and tell them to keep their money and their mandates.  The Federal Government provides about 9% of the funding for Georgia; yet the mandates placed upon the Department of Education, and, thus, the schools far exceed the funding.  If we simply tell the Feds NO, we will be much better off financially.

We also need to reconsider all of the testing that we place on our schools and our children.  It costs about five thousand dollars to print one grade level End of Course Test per school.  If we assume one test per grade level (11th graders are tested about 11 times), then we are looking at 120 million dollars just to print the test.  This does not include grading it or posting the grades.  Instead of killing our budget with over testing, let’s eliminate the tests for first and second grade, and then move to biannual tests, if we feel that we need those. The CRCT is a Georgia based test; if we really want to see where we stand in the nation, we need to compare ourselves to other states that use the same test.

Again, education is an individual initiative with community support.  Community Support.  Why are communities forced to abide by a state curriculum when we, the individual schools and individual counties know that much of that curriculum isn’t working? Why is it that we can’t allow communities to decide whether they want to have a vocational track?  Why can’t we allow the individual systems to decide what to teach and how to teach? Why can’t we simply stick to the standards that are in place?  The disenfranchised blame game continues because we have Federal and state mandates imposed upon us.  Without allowing community choice and individual stakeholder involvement, we will continue to have the blame game, where everyone is pointing his finger at someone else and our children are the losers.

Our children also suffer because they are not allowed a choice in their education.  I firmly believe in choice in schools, just as I do in the market place.  Primary and Secondary education is the one entity that remains a monopoly.  Allowing parents and students the opportunity to choose a school or school model such as virtual school, opens up the much needed educational free market.  Good schools succeed, and bad schools close.  I also promote a tax credit for parents who wish to send their children to private schools or to home school.  A tax credit removes the need for yet another department in the DOE.  Why do we need a voucher department? A simple tax credit saves time and taxpayer money.

Together, we can make a difference for Georgia’s students.