Sunday, May 14, 2006

Perdue's I.O.U. to Georgia Schools

When it come to his highly touted High School Completion Counselors, "thanks, but no thanks" is what some school districts plan to tell Governor Perdue.

Perdue claims these counselors are his answer to Georgia's high dropout rate, but with research to support that claim lacking, he's really just presenting local school districts with yet another politically motivated "I.O.U."

The fifteen and a half million allotted for these counselors won't be available to school districts until January, 2007. Local districts are putting together their budgets now and must decide whether to front the money for these counselors during the fall semester, hoping to be reimbursed in January. Plus, the money provided falls short of what will actually be needed to pay these counselors, only providing the equivalent of a first year teacher's salary as opposed to the $55,000.00 it will likely cost to hire and train each counselor.

When it is possible to calculate the future need for prison bed space by looking at third grade reading scores, it is clear why many educators believe that the investing in early childhood education is a much more effective approach to stemming the dropout rate. Yet, it is unclear whether funds will be available for EIP counselors, an effective and relatively inexpensive program that gives extra support to young children who are not meeting benchmarks.

Georgia's dropout rate is alarming, and Perdue's response is to continue to make Georgia's schools a political football by investing millions in an untested approach that is likely "too little, too late" and then failing to immediately provide the funds.

"High School Completion Counselors" : this is, once again, a great sound-bite, but that's about all.

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