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Governor Perdue Aims For The S.T.A.R.S. With Education Bills

Tuesday, February 18, 2003  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Legislation Rebuilds Department of Education, Restores Flexibility To School Systems and Strikes Needed Balance With Due Process

Atlanta - Governor Sonny Perdue today announced the details of his education legislation to Georgia's House of Representatives.

"Helping Georgia's students attain the highest educational achievement possible is the goal of our educators and parents.Superintendent Kathy Cox, State Board of Education Chairwoman Wanda Barrs and I will work with families and educators to help our children reach the stars in their educational experiences," said Governor Sonny Perdue.

Named S.T.A.R.S. (Students + Teachers + Accountability + Respect = Success), the legislative package is comprised of two bills. The bills are jointly authored by Georgia State Representatives Larry O'Neal (R- Warner Robins), Glenn Richardson (R- Dallas), Governor Perdue's House floor leaders and Georgia State Representative Brooks Coleman (R- Duluth), a long-serving member of the House Education Committee.

"Education is Georgia's future. I continue to support education as the best and most certain way to improve our state," said Governor Sonny Perdue.

First Bill Rebuilds Department of Education

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.

The first bill returns Georgia's Office of Educational Accountability (OEA) to the state's Department of Education (DOE). "The rebuilding of DOE will allow Superintendent Cox and her team to operate as an effective, service-oriented agency focused solely on addressing Georgia's educational challenges. The changes also enable DOE to operate as a 'one-stop-shop' for teachers, parents and students," added Governor Perdue.

Superintendent 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.

The first bill also restores due process rights to teachers. Under the plan, once a teacher gets fourth contract, he or she has a right to petition the Professional Standards Commission (PSC) for an appeal, and the PSC can determine whether or not they will hear the appeal. This applies only to teachers who lost due process rights in 2000. Teachers hired before July, 2000 retain the due process rights currently in place.

Second Bill Empowers School Districts To Take Charge In Managing Resources

The second bill allows school systems to decide how to best allocate their resources. Specifically, the legislation recommends that funds allocated for direct instruction remain in direct instruction, while removing all site based expenditure controls.

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

The bill also strengthens local school councils by giving them more information and more flexibility. "With local control, parental involvement becomes even more important. Parents and school district administrators can also look forward to expanded partnership opportunities," said Perdue.

"This bill also speaks to the trust and accountability that we're working to achieve between my educational team and Georgia's educators. The expectation of high standards is not being changed. We are changing the way we operate, opting to remove many of the restrictions that made it difficult for educators to best manage their school system's resources," said Perdue.

Legislation Designed To Encourage, Support Educational Success

"Education is one of my top priorities. I am proud of the work done by Superintendent Cox, State Board Chair Barrs, my House education advisors and many others who want Georgia's children to have a high quality educational experience" said Governor Perdue.

"I encourage our legislators, educators, parents and students to join us as we aim for the stars of educational excellence with some needed reforms," concluded Perdue.