Education Reform Commission – Final Report

Stan Jester
DeKalb County
Board Of Education

In January 2015, Governor Nathan Deal created an Education Reform Commission (ERC) with 30+ members consisting of teachers, superintendents, principals, state legislators, and heads of various education related firms.  Governor Deal charged this commission with reshaping and revolutionizing Georgia’s education system.
On December 15, the ERC presented its .pdf link icon Final Recommendations to Governor Nathan Deal.

How best to transform education is a familiar topic for state leaders.  Education spending is that largest single expenditure of the state budget and Georgia’s achievement levels affect economic development opportunities. Many believe that more funding is the answer and, in fact, from 1970 to 2010 education spending increased 185 percent nationwide. Funding for Georgia’s K-12 education has increased 21 percent since 2011. But, Georgia has not reaped the benefits of a 21 percent increase in student performance during this same time.
The commission formed five subcommittees focused on innovative  strategies for how Georgia can best fund schools, retain, recruit and pay educators, educate early learners, provide educational options for families and ensure that all students can achieve at the rate and on the pathways most appropriate for them.
Funding Subcommittee: Transform Georgia’s outdated K-12 funding formula
Teacher Recruitment, Retention and Compensation Subcommittee: Revolutionize the way Georgia recruits, retains and compensates K-12 educators
Early Childhood Education Subcommittee: Afford every Georgia family the opportunity to access high-quality early childhood education
Move On When Ready Subcommittee: Develop a system allowing students to progress and learn at their unique pace
Expanding Educational Opportunities and School Choice Subcommittee: Explore innovative strategies aimed at increasing K-12 options for Georgia families
Teacher compensation is the most philosophically charged and has received the most attention.  The ERC reports

“The current salary and career advancement structures in Georgia inhibit recruitment and retention. Teachers generally improve the most during the first five to seven years of teaching, yet in general, teacher pay is relatively flat for the first five years of a teacher’s career. Further, earning an advanced degree is one of the primary drivers of teacher salary growth in Georgia, yet there is no consistent relationship between holding a graduate degree and teacher effectiveness. Teachers also generally have few opportunities for career advancement without leaving the classroom, resulting in burnout, stress, and dissatisfaction among mid-career teachers. This narrow career ladder, coupled with a rigid salary schedule, inhibits Georgia’s ability to attract and retain effective teachers.”

The ERC recommends
1. Provide the opportunity for teacher involvement in the creation of strategic compensation models at the district levels;
2. Allow currently employed teachers to opt in to the new compensation systems OR remain on the current state salary schedule;
3. Refrain from using degree level as a significant determinant of compensation increases. Instead, consider reimbursing teachers for the costs of pursuing advanced degrees;
4. Provide additional pay and/or signing bonuses for high needs subjects and hard-to-staff schools;
5. Provide additional pay for accepting additional responsibilities;
6. Provide additional compensation for teachers who complete the requirements for Teacher Leader Certification;
7. Provide opportunities for teachers to earn higher salaries earlier in their career.

2 responses to “Education Reform Commission – Final Report

  1. Stan,
    Spending has increased 185% since 1970. Great! So “funding” must not be the answer? Is that your point?
    Can you or any of your “crusaders against public schools teachers” name any field or profession whose salary that has not increased by 185% since 1970? Any commodity? Any product? A dozen eggs? An average car? A pair of shoes? A can of coca-cola? Mr. Google can give us some idea here.
    Oh yes, public schools funding has increased 21% since 2011? Do you recall by how many percentage points public schools funding had gone down in from 2004 to 2011 under the last 2 governors?
    “War on public schools teachers” it is, right?

  2. I’m just stating the facts. The discussion digresses when you resort to name calling. Funding in Georgia has increased from $5,063 per student to $8,440 per student from 1996 to 2013.
    Georgia – Change in Funding Since 1996

    Spending in Georgia on “General Administration” increased by 140% from 1996 to 2011, while spending on “Instruction” increased by 80% in the same time frame.
    Georgia – Change in Spending Since 1996

    Those data points concern me.