The Great Georgia Educational Crisis has infiltrated the entire state, but its roots are firmly planted in the reckless attitude of policy makers in Atlanta. Progress or lack of it is directed by Atlanta. The entire state follows the state, and Atlanta is where all the decision makers reside.
Politicians and appointees have thrown education under the school bus. How this will play out in elections across the Peach State come November, especially in the race for Governor? Consistently placed last in the nation, the only state trailing Georgia is Mississippi.
Because of irresponsible budget cuts over at both the Governor’s Mansion and the State Capitol, teachers have been laid off. Classroom limits have been eliminated. Because of state shortfalls, music and art programs have been slashed. Meanwhile, Gov. Sonny Perdue and Crew have authorized millions upon millions for horse tracks and fishing ponds in Perdue’s native Perry, Georgia. The hometown boy has delivered revenue for his hometown at the sake of Georgia’s children.
The primaries are over. Although the former State School Superintendant Kathy Cox has jumped ship and flown off to head a Washington think tank, she leaves behind a horrible legacy of mismanagement and perhaps the worst of all: the institution of a math program that was doomed to fail from the very beginning. This program that is now the standard in every Georgia public school had already failed and been tossed out by other states.
This program has been placed in all grades and is a conceptual type of math. Over half of Georgia’s high school students have flunked it and may be in jeopardy of attending college. The approach, in a nutshell, is exposing various discipline ideas instead of following a math progression. For example, in each of the four years of Math, now called Math 1, 2, 3, 4-they have a ‘sampler’-a little algebra, trigonometry, and calculus. They never learn any of it. By the way, most high school students never make it past Math 3.
This ‘Math’ is in the elementary schools too. For example, my third grader knows all the types of triangles in geometry-an advanced skill, but he did not know how to round numbers nor read an analog clock! We always provided home math instruction to counteract the scrambled arithmetic.
In reality, only one election will decide the fate of our Georgia youngsters: Governor. We have two choices: Roy Barnes (D) and Nathan Deal (R). Barnes has been governor before and angered many teachers, who helped boot him out office to make way for an even worse-case scenario. He has promised a better gubernatorial attitude if given another shot. Very few believe him. Deal originally stated that he would turn down $400 million dollars in federal ‘Race To the Top’ money if elected governor, and then backpedaled.
The educational crisis in this state has directly impacted the educational plan in our own family. Because of the insane approach to math as well as many other issues, we have removed our gifted son from public education for now. We also are fed up with our child learning exclusively from faded photocopies. Textbooks are a thing of the past. I have been picking up discards in mint condition from used book stores.
This upcoming election is important for the future of Georgia, Atlanta, and for the children. We cannot go much lower. Change is a must if our children are ever to compete nationally. Education must become politically chic again in Atlanta and statewide. Only the Governor’s race can institute educational change.