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Governor Perdue's S.T.A.R.S. Education Plan

Tuesday, April 1, 2003  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Students + Teachers + Accountability + Respect = Success

On February 18, 2003, Governor Perdue unveiled his STARS Education Plan to the Georgia House of Representatives. STARS will hold local schools accountable for student achievement while providing local educators the flexibility to use their resources in the ways that are best for their students. Governor Perdue promised education reform during the campaign, and it is a promise that he has kept in his first legislative session.

A month and a half later and after 20 plus hours of committee hearings, the House has refused to let this education reform plan even come up for a committee vote.

On March 27, a bipartisan majority of the Senate passed the Governor's STARS legislation. It is now time for the House to put students and teachers ahead of partisan politics.

Highlights of Governor Perdue's STARS Legislation:

  • Provides local schools flexibility over their resources.

  • Increases accountability by providing greater transparency and complies with the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

  • Offers local schools relief from the class size reduction for one year, in recognition of the current economic climate.

  • Restructures the Department of Education (DOE) by moving the Office of Education Accountability and the Student Data Research Center into the DOE.

The two bills in the Governor's STARS education package, HB 515/SB 248 and HB 516/SB 249, have several key provisions:

  • Removes All Site-Based Expenditure Controls and Position Tests. School systems returned a total of $3 million in remediation money last year. These schools were disproportionately African-American. Three large metro school systems, DeKalb, Cobb, and Gwinnett returned a total of $1 million in media money last year because they could not spend the money according to the state's restrictions. STARS removes these restrictions.

  • Maintains One System-Level Expenditure Control. State taxpayer money in direct instruction must remain in direct instruction at the system level, including remediation money. We consider remediation money direct instruction.

  • Flexibility with Class Size. Classes can exceed maximum class size by two if the system average meets maximum class size requirements.

  • Delays Phasing-In of Reduction of Maximum Class Size for One Year. To protect systems from undue financial pressure during this budget crisis, the class size reduction is delayed one year. Failure to delay the class size reduction would result in an unfunded mandate to local school systems in excess of $100 million. This would force local communities to increase property taxes.

  • Flexibility with Seat Time in Middle Schools. This restores the earlier requirement of 4.5 hours and provides flexibility to tailor curriculum according to student needs.

  • Empowers School Councils. STARS will allow more members on school councils, making them majority parents. School councils will also be given more information, such as site based budget and expenditure information and average class sizes by grade and by school. This information will promote accountability by providing more transparency.

  • Restores Title 20 Exemption to Charter Schools. By restoring the Title 20 exemption that was taken away last year, charter schools will no longer have to negotiate 1,000 pages line by line to get flexibility. Charter schools remain subject to civil rights laws, accountability, and reporting requirements.

  • Flexibility with Recertification. The Professional Standards Commission (PSC) will be empowered to waive current requirements on teachers coming from other states or returning to the profession. Current law forces quality teachers from other states to take two courses and pass a test in order to teach in Georgia. Many of these prospective teachers decide not to do so.

  • Makes DOE a One-Stop Agency. Moving the Office of Education Accountability (OEA) and the State Data Research Center (SDRC) into DOE will eliminate inefficient and expensive duplicate bureaucracy and will facilitate cooperation between DOE & local systems. There is no need for multiple Departments of Education in Georgia.

  • Fair Dismissal for Teachers - A Balanced Approach. The Pre-HB 1187 rules (3 Appeals) were too costly to remove ineffective teachers. However, HB 1187 took the opposite extreme: No Appeals. In the STARS legislation, teachers are protected by allowing both the local school board and the PSC to overturn the decision of a principal and superintendent to not renew a teacher's contract. This balanced approach protects both good teachers and protects students from ineffective teachers. Also, teachers and school districts will be spared from costly litigation.

In addition to providing greater accountability, flexibility, and transparency, passage of the STARS package will provide relief to local school systems in these tight economic times. The Governor is hopeful that the House of Representatives will join him to move education reform forward by passing this much needed education legislation.