Fayette County Issues Tea Party logo
Fayette County Issues Tea Party logo
WE THE PEOPLE of Fayette County... cannot be complacent about our future
 
ELECTED OFFICIALS
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ARCHIVE
ISSUES
K-12 EDUCATION
 AMNESTY
AGENDA 21
2ND AMENDMENT
 
TAXATION
LEGISLATION

Education

 

We believe that parents, acting individually and through their local school board, are the best authorities on our children's public education- not the federal and state governments.

 

In 2015, Governor Deal approved the General Assembly's initiative for a voter referendum to amend the GA Constitution. Its stated purpose is to improve schools that have failed to meet minimum standards for two years by managing them from his office.

We oppose this centralization and believe that a better solution includes the use of vouchers parents can use to enroll children in a school of their choice.

 

There are several major topics related to K-12 public education in Fayette County; use these links to learn more about each one:

The following programs were created by the federal government or are heavily indorsed by it. They are distinct, but inter-related in their impact on locally-administered public education.

- No Child Left Behind

- Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

- Race To The Top

- Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS)

 

Past Stories

 

- Fayette County's Public Education budget

Jane Robbins opposes CCSS
June 10, 2013 forum on Common Core State Standards for K-12:
Jane Robbins, Sr. Fellow with American Principles Project, opposes CCSS.
Dr. John Barge, GA State Superintendent of Schools, participates in the forum

January 2013, snapshot of our school system (source: Superintendant's office, Jan 2013)

Fast facts

While our educational achievements have been outstanding, the level of of excellence cannot continue without reducing expenses. Why?

Revenue:
The two primary sources for our $163m budget are shrinking:
- As property values diminish, taxes on them declined $21m since 2008
- The state's austerity cuts have reduced our state revenues $15m.  That's a combined reduction of 22%
- We've relied on our fund balance (similar to reserves) to balance the budget for the past two years
- There isn't enough left to do that again for the coming year
- We have a declining student enrollment

Expenses:
- Our general administrative costs are already among the lowest in the state: $246 vs $413 per student
- Underutilized schools consume scarce funds that are needed to sustain quality education in the classroom
- Expense per elementary student ranges from $10,312 (Brooks, 57% fill) to $7,384 (Peachtree City, 98% fill)
- Expense per middle school student ranges from $8,621 (Fayette, 64% fill) to $6,658 (Booth, 87% fill)


Fayette County School Budget

Concerns:
1. A projected $15m budget shortfall that had been looming for over two years and came home to roost in June 2013. During those two years, the BOE balanced the budget by drawing down our fund balance (similar to a reserve).  There is an insufficient fund balance to offset the projected 2013-2014 budget deficit, so cost reductions are essential.

2. A significant overcapacity of about five elementary schools, which contributes to the deficit

3. Imprecise and unreliable financial forecasting of the Board's annual $165m budget that has led to unnecessary teacher pay cuts, only to be followed by restorations a year later.
The appointment of Mr. Tom Gray several months ago should go a long way to rectify this concern.

UPDATE:  The Fayette County BOE approved a balanced budget for 2013-2014. They took the additional significant step of closing four schools and selling a fifth (Rivers Elementary). The BOE took action to cut some 309 teaching, staff, parapros, and bus drivers positions. These are major steps, which, when combined with several other measures, closed the budget gap. A challenge will be to sustain our communities of Tyrone & Brooks after their community elementary schoolsclose, and to retain our most capable people, especially teachers.

 

No Child Left Behind

What is It?
A federal program approved by President George Bush to measure school performance.  Schools whose students failed to improve their standardized test scores were subject to increasingly more oversight. Under President Obama, the federal government has approved NCLB waivers to Georgia and many other states that have agreed to adoptCommon Core Standards (below).

What's the problem?
Some school officials and teachers felt pressure to cheat on testing programs- such as the national scandal surrounding the Atlanta Public Schools.

 

Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

What is It?
Nationally standardized assessment standards for English language arts and mathematics (additional subjects may be added in the future).


Who developed CCSS, and why?
CCSS was developed through two non-profit organizations: the National Governors' Conference and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The standards are also heavily supported by President Obama & his Administration. The stated purpose is to "provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them."

Through 2013, Alaska, Texas, Nebraska, and Virginia have chosen not to adopt the CCSS, and Minnesota rejected the math CCSS.  Alabama and Indiana introduced legislation to repeal CCSS, and Indiana withdrew in March 2014. The Obama Administration is side-stepping state-level education offices that refuse to adopt CCSS by offering Race To the Top grants directly to local school districts.

What's the problem?

- The loss of control by states and local school districts that adopt CCSS and are then indirectly compelled to adopt supporting curricula and testing.

- Education is the purview of state & local governments; CCSS is a national approach to a state & local responsibility, strongly supported by the federal government.  Some of the standards may prove useful in adding rigor and relevance (many were lifted from GA's programs), but a national program provides too much opportunity for centralized federal meddling in local affairs (see Race To the Top below). Some observers also fear the interjection of liberal and/or business profit thinking in the standards that will drive liberal curricula and teaching.

- Upon examination, CCSS does not accomplish the claimed academic excellence proponents claim, and that the programs are insufficiently tested.

- CCSS' "one size fits all" curriculum reduces state, local school board, and classroom flexibility to better meet the needs of advanced as well as slower learning students. Those same national, one size-fits-all test standards all but demand a curriculum geared toward those tests, whether it makes sense for that state or community or not.

- Concerns about students being channeled into educational & development paths based on early assessments, rather than being given a broader educational experience and discovering & pursuing new interests later in school.

- CCSS adds significant expenses to already strained school district budgets. Monitoring, testing, and reporting must be done with IT equipment, programs, and training that is unfunded by the federal or state governments. Those expenses further reduce our ability to pay competitive salaries to quality teachers. Cobb County's bill is $7.5m... just for the math materials; English & Language Arts are expected to cost anther $12.4m (Fayette has about 19% as many students as Cobb County).

- Elected local school boards and state Superintendents are accountable to the NGA and CCSSO, rather than voting parents. Those same two private entities have insulated themselves from liability and damages arising from CCSS through their strict licensing agreement.?

- Under CCSS' tightly controlled curriculum and associated texts & teaching materials, children's education has taken a back seat to the profit motive of big businesses such as Microsoft, Pearson Education, & McGraw Hill publishers, and AdvancED.

Boards

Resources:
- GA Dept of Education
- Billionaire Bill Gates' $ Circumvents Parents & Voters

- Common Core.org
- Core Standards.org
- YouTube: Common Core: Subversive Threat To Education (an excellent, factual overview presentation)
- GA Schools Superintendent John Barge on CCS
- "Why There's a Backlash Against Common Core"

 

Race To the Top

What is it?
One of three inter-related, federally-indorsed programs affecting our local public education of children (also see No Child Left Behind, and Common Core Performance Standards above ). Race To the Top is a monetary award for states that comply with federally-developed Race To the Top education criteria.


What's the problem?

One key award criteria is compliance with Common Core Performance Standards, making it a virtual federal indorsement of CCSS. The monetary awards, of course, are local taxpayer dollars that we believe should remain local. The $4.3b of RTTT funds were inserted into the 2009 Stimulus Bill. 

 

State Longitudinal Data Systems

What is it?
A federal system for collecting information through participating states on every student in the USA. It is administered by the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES), a part of the U.S. Department of Education.

What's the problem?
- There is no Constitutional basis for the federal government funding and conducting the program.
- Central government possession and use of so much personal information, collected from pre-school through early job placement, has too much potential for mis-use.
- The government plans to make the information on children available to businesses to "...develop better learning material & techniques"
- Abuse of power: the federal government holds states hostage, taking their citizens' earnings through taxation and returning it only when state governments capitulate to federal demands for supporting programs such as SLDS. Grants are provided throught the stimulus program.

Resources:
Lawsuit charges Ed Dept with violating student privacy rights, The Washington Post, March 13, 2013

 


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