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Governor Perdue Unveils Education Legislation Package

Wednesday, February 5, 2003  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Legislative Package Aims To Put Department of Education Back Together,
Provide Flexibility For Schools To Manage Resources As Student Needs Dictate

Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue today presented an overview of two major components of his education legislative package during a visit to Atlanta's Centennial Place Elementary School. Centennial Place Elementary is one of 65 elementary schools in the Atlanta Public School system. The Governor plans to introduce the package's legislative components next week.

"Many times you've heard me say that education is our future. I strongly believe that there is no better, no more certain way to improve our state and the lives of Georgians than by improving education," said Governor Sonny Perdue.

"When I began my service as your governor, I identified education as one of my top priorities. Although our state faces some challenging economic times, 55% of my FY 2004 budget, approximately $8.8 billion, is recommended for education."

Perdue added: "While the budget recommendations are important, I also pledged to work with, not against our teachers. I believe in flexibility with accountability. We will let schools make their own decisions, but we will hold them responsible for student achievement. We will also return control of our school systems to those closest to Georgia's students - our superintendents, principals, teachers and parents.

I am honored to present an educational legislative package that seeks to get us back on track to working together, to meet the high educational standards we've established," said Governor Perdue.

Step One: Putting The Department of Education Back Together

An executive order signed Friday, January 31, 2003 moved the state's Student Data Research Center (Center) into the Department of Education. Previously, the Center was a separate state agency, not affiliated with the Department of Education. The Center is primarily responsible for collecting and reporting information on student achievement.

"Superintendent Cox will work with local educators to identify information that will allow Georgia to develop a meaningful academic scoreboard. We will use this scoreboard to set high educational standards and to encourage and inspire our schools and students. An accurate scoreboard will help us identify our best practices and highlight those areas where we need to devote more attention," said Governor Perdue.

"I am also recommending the appointment of an advisory committee made up primarily of local educators to ensure that we get the student information system up and running."

Office of Education Accountability Returns To Department of Education

"In my State of the State address, I announced that we would move Georgia's Office of Educational Accountability (OEA) where it belonged, as a part of the state's Department of Education (DOE).

"This also means that parents and local school officials will no longer have to spend hours thumbing through the telephone book trying to find the correct department to answer their education questions. A simple call to the DOE will point them in the right direction."

Superintendent Kathy Cox will select OEA's director. The recommended candidate will be subject to approval by the State Board of Education (Board). Using a corporate model, the Board will provide oversight to OEA to ensure that the system holds our students and schools to the highest standards.

Step Two: Educators Empowered To Manage Their Resources

Successful relationships are built on trust and mutual respect. My legislative package embodies these principles and seeks to remove many of the restrictions that made it difficult for educators to best manage their school system's resources," said Perdue.

Governor Perdue's legislative package will also allow school systems to decide how to best allocate their resources.

"No longer will districts have to fill out forms that document how many boxes of chalk are at each school," said Governor Perdue.

While the legislative package recommends that funds allocated for direct instruction remain in direct instruction, all site based expenditure controls will be removed. For example, if a school district wants to move money from transportation to media or from overhead to direct instruction, the school system will be allowed to do so.

"This flexibility will allow school systems to be laboratories so that we can identify our best practices. School systems will be able to spend their money in the ways that are best for their students," added Perdue.

Package Fulfills Pledge Made To Georgians

"My legislative package provides a comprehensive action plan to get Georgia's education system back on track. We've set high goals and we'll need everyone's best efforts to make this plan work. We invite our legislators, educators, parents and students to join us as we strengthen support of our investment in Georgia's schools," concluded Perdue.