Tuesday, February 7, 2006

Perdue on Education

In a classic case of polls driving policy, Gov. Perdue was on the local talk radio this morning touting the benefits of his 65% = Failure Plan for our children's schools. He claimed to rely on "the data" to conclude that this is what we need to do to "fix" education and that there is no room for compromise on "educational excellence." I feel like I am in a Twilight Zone episode. Is this the same guy who has made unprecedented budget cuts to education, cutting into the here-to-fore sacred instructional dollars? Is this the fellow who canceled school for two days in case there was a fuel shortage? And then traveled himself that weekend to GOP grassroots training in Athens? For him to claim that those who oppose this plan "simply are against educational excellence" sells students, teachers and parents short. Let's set the record straight on a couple of issues:

1) Current law provides for 100% accountability for education dollars. This bill simply changes the definition of "classroom instruction" and by reducing the controls to 65% of the revenue, is a huge step backwards.

2) Ask any elementary teacher what it would be like to do his or her job without a competent counselor, a competent media specialist and a great principal in the front office.

3) None of the other states that have adopted this formula have included federal dollars- dollars often for special needs students.

This is not good policy, but at first blush it sounds like a good idea and polled very well. He-yes, him, the guy who until this year demonstrated no commitment to the classroom-intends to make this a campaign issue. This is like Bush claiming that the NSA spying program is designed to protect civil liberties. Republicans have become masters of spin, masters of the sound-bite and masters at framing their negatives as positives. But our children's schools should never be a political football. Education is too important, too basic to the wellbeing of individuals and communities.

Today the Bibb School Board will take the bold and politically dangerous step of passing a resolution opposing this law. Parents, teachers and students ought to be there to support them.
They are taking this step to protect the precious local dollars that allow Bibb to do things like offer transportation to magnet programs.

Sonny wants you to believe that he is the "education governor." That's like Ralph Reed trying to convince you that he is a Democrat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Please do what the Governor is counting on you not doing-check the facts behind the sound-bite. To do that, please go to:

Georgia Association of Educators: http://www.georgianea.org/content.asp?ContentId=854

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