School funding, teacher compensation, and school accountability were all topics of discussion as Governor Nathan Deal visited Gwinnett County on Wednesday to address State School Board members, legislators and other education leaders. The governor’s address to the group was one of the first opportunities he had to expand on his idea of creating a study group to look at education reform, should he be re-elected in November.
According to the Gwinnett Daily Post, Deal wants to figure out a new method to reward the most effective teachers, based on how well their students perform.
“What is the quality of growth in a particular teacher’s classroom,” Deal said. “And if they are showing exceptional results in terms of student growth, then they should be rewarded for that. … Teachers should be rewarded for being, just that, good teachers. They should not be put in a position of only being able to go up the ladder of administration in order to get a pay raise. We should give them appropriate compensation for the fact that they are the best in the classroom.”
In addition to looking at ways to better compensate outstanding teachers, the study group will also examine the relationship between state education requirements and the needs of local systems.
“It will embrace not only the financial structure of how we fund K-12 education, but will also embrace delivery models keeping in mind that all of us want to give local systems as much flexibility as possible, but the other side of the coin is always accountability for the flexibility,” [Deal] said.
Another goal will be to examine the way the state funds K-12 education. The Post story points out that the state’s largest school system as been underfunded by the current formula, known as Quality Basic Education. Had the Gwinnett system been fully funded according to that formula, the system would have received an additional $816 million in state funding since 2003.
House Education Committee Chairman Brooks Coleman of Duluth says that while the formula must be adjusted, judging it by the amount that education has been underfunded might not be the best way to look at the problem. Coleman noted that the state’s 2015 budget for education includes the largest increase in funding in seven years.
As part of his stump speech on education, Governor Deal has pointed out that education spending now accounts for a larger share of the state budget than has been seen since Carl Sanders was governor in the mid 1960s.