On the same day that President Trump was scheduled to give his State of the Union address, State School Superintendent Richard Woods gave members of the House and Senate Education Committees his State of Education report.
“We have made great progress in education in this state,” said Woods, who recently won re-election as Georgia’s top school chief. “We still have challenges, but Georgia is succeeding like never before. And over the next four years, we will continue to see Georgia succeed. The eyes of the nation are turning to Georgia to see what we are doing in education.”
In Tuesday’s meeting, the superintendent described challenges in rural Georgia. He pointed to transportation and the difficulty recruiting and retaining teachers as some of the top concerns in rural Georgia.
Woods thanks legislators for fully funding Georgia’s Quality Basic Education this year, but stressed the importance of looking at the current funding formula.
“I hope this is something we can address- we have to look at updating the funding formula that was developed in 1985,” said Woods. “We have to look proactively at how we face the needs in rural Georgia. Education today looks different than it did in the 1980s. The rural Georgia solution must be comprehensive and collaborative.”
Woods stressed the importance of supporting teachers – who, he says , are “making an impact.”
“Georgia’s graduation rate is higher than ever before, and remediation rates are falling,” said Woods. “Teachers are making a difference. But they have felt devalued over the years. They feel that their value has been limited to test scores. It’s time we elevate their pay and the profession, as well. Our children are facing a lot of issues at home, and bringing them to school. We are asking a lot of our teachers. We are asking our teachers to be psychologists, social workers, mental health experts, career coaches, and mom and dad. I appreciate Governor Kemp for raising teacher pay and addressing school safety.”
Woods also talked about work going on in school improvement across the state under Stephanie Johnson, Deputy Superintendent of the DOE’s School Improvement Division.
“We are starting with the premise that every school can improve,” said Woods. “We can’t be reactive. We have to be proactive. We can’t wait until a school is on a list to start looking at it.”
Garry McGiboney, Deputy Superintendent for Policy at DOE, also addressed the lawmakers on school safety. “School safety extends beyond metal detectors and resource officers,” he said. “School climate is directly related to school safety.”