Georgia House of Education on Fire?

The Georgia house of education is on fire.  And our fire men and women, rather than dousing the fire with water are throwing gasoline on it.  And the spectators are watching the house burn.  Rather than raise their voices in alarm and demand a different course, the spectators are quiet.  And Georgia’s children are the innocent victims.

From early childhood, to K-12 to higher education Georgia is not delivering the needed educational outcomes for its children.  And we cannot blame the children because states with similar demographic groups are performing higher.  And this is all in the relative context of a country – the United States — that is performing at the low end of educational achievement compared to other developed countries.

Consider these statistics: With only 63% of its 4th graders reading at basic level (not the higher standard of proficiency) on the federal administered National Assessment of Education Progress, Georgia is in the bottom quartile of states.  We are at the very bottom of states on the SAT scores, even when compared to states that have comparable percentages of its students taking the SAT.  Our high school graduation rates are among the worst in the country.  Of those children who graduate high school and enter college, less than half finish, and you guessed it, this places us among the bottom quarter of states.
If the moral imperative of providing children a great education does not convince you, consider these statistics: children without high school diplomas have average yearly earnings of approximately $23,000 and the highest unemployment rate at nearly 15%.  Alternatively, those with bachelor’s degrees or higher have average annual earnings of nearly $60,000 and an unemployment rate of less than 5%.  The surest way for Georgia to lower its unemployment rate long term and increase its tax base by attracting high paying industries and jobs is to increase the educational attainment rate of its population not lower the corporate tax rate or give more tax breaks to favored industries.
So, with these four alarms statistics, you’d think our state leadership would be rushing like fire men and women with powerful water hoses, doing whatever it takes to reverse these stupefying outcomes, but you’d be wrong.  Incredibly, at a time when we should be increasing our investment in public education along the entire education pipeline we are moving in the opposite direction.  Under Governor Deal’s proposed budget, adjusted for inflation, per student state spending on K-12 education and the university system will fall to their lowest levels in over a decade!  And the trend of Georgia’s disinvestment in public education began during the Perdue administration before the Great Recession.  The dramatically reduced state spending means higher property taxes levied by local school systems, more students per class room and fewer days of instruction.   Does the sound like water or gasoline on the four alarm fire?
With the leading elected officials in Georgia driving public education in the wrong direction, you’d think that civic leaders would demand the state increase investment in its human capital, the surest long-term bet for increasing the state’s economic development potential.  But they are not making this demand.  Instead, many civic leaders have offered praise to our elected officials for being fiscally responsible.  
Georgia’s educational outcomes are a disgrace, and instead of vigorous action and investment to move us from the bottom to the top, we seem more determined to reach absolute dead last.  We should be ashamed and appalled.


  1. An Unsorted Thinker says:
  2. Ed Johnson says: