The Georgia Department of Education recently announced its 2021 legislative priorities — key public-education issues that will guide State School Superintendent Richard Woods’ conversations with lawmakers in the upcoming session.
Each 2021 priority is aligned to GaDOE’s Roadmap to Reimagining K-12 Education, which outlines the agency’s vision for public schools during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
“Georgia’s public schools need support as they continue to meet the moment of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Superintendent Woods said. “And even when schools can go back to ‘normal,’ there is a ‘normal’ we cannot and should not go back to. We cannot return to the status-quo of over-testing, hyper-accountability, and data points determining destiny. Now is the time to cast a clear vision of what our education system should be, and how our children’s futures should unfold. I look forward to working with the Georgia legislature to prioritize public education funding, elevate the teaching profession, strengthen the teacher pipeline, and expand opportunities for students.”
Georgia Department of Education 2021 Legislative Priorities (downloadable/print version)
EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES FOR STUDENTS
We are committed to providing a well-rounded education for every student and addressing the academic and non-academic factors that have an impact on student achievement.
PRIORITY: Support the creation of multiple diploma pathways, providing a tailored high school experience to match the passion, potential, and postsecondary pursuits of every student. (Reimagine 3)
PRIORITY: Provide access to a 21st century classroom by recognizing the need for affordable and quality high-speed internet access as a basic utility for all Georgia families. (Reimagine 8B)
PRIORITY: Provide funding for a GaDOE Military Family Liaison position. (Reimagine 1)
ELEVATING THE TEACHING PROFESSION & STRENGTHENING THE TEACHER PIPELINE
Teachers are the drivers of all educational success. We promote efforts to protect and prioritize funding for teacher salaries and benefits so we can recruit and retain the best teachers, thus ensuring all Georgia students have access to highly effective teachers.
PRIORITY: Pursue robust Teacher Pipeline legislation, including the removal of certification loss as a punishment for developing teachers, and the establishment of a pilot to design an evaluation system built on professional progression with embedded supports for educators. (Reimagine 10A)
PRIORITY: Promote changes to allow districts to utilize retired educators full time to fill high-need teaching positions. (Reimagine 10D)
FUNDING PUBLIC EDUCATION
We believe in prioritizing additional revenue to fully fund public education, including the full funding of the Quality Basic Education (QBE) formula.
PRIORITY: Additional one-time funding for school districts to offset temporary student enrollment declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Reimagine 7)
PRIORITY: Provide additional funding for transportation costs for school districts. (Reimagine 7B)
PRIORITY: Provide additional funding for school counselors to assist in the counseling and guidance of the whole child (including student mental health needs), funding for a GaDOE School Social Worker position, and funding for a GaDOE School Nurse position to better support school districts. (Reimagine 7E)
PRIORITY: Expand the allowable use of SPLOST funds to include instructional software, subscriptions, and other resources. (Reimagine 8F)
FEDERAL PRIORITY — REDUCE HIGH-STAKES TESTING
Pass legislative resolution that supports changing the federal Every Student Succeeds Act to only require grade-band testing (elementary school, middle school, and high school) rather than high-stakes testing in grades 3-12 each year.