State School Superintendent Richard Woods says a recent education listening tour that included the State Department of Education, Governor Brian Kemp, and the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement, was “well-received and plans are underway to replicate the tour in the fall.”
“The events were well attended, and we heard a lot of positive comments,” said Woods, during the State Board of Education meeting Thursday. “Opportunity and optimism are two words that come to mind when I think of the listening tour.”
The tour was unique, Woods said, and was the first in state history that included all three groups . Local school superintendents and other district officials were invited to participate. The fall tour will be designed for teachers and other school level personnel. “They are the ones who are working with our children every day, and we definitely want to hear their thoughts, as well.”
Woods said he was able to attend 14 of the 16 tour stops, and the Governor was able to attend several. Kemp’s staff , DOE staff members and members of GOSA attended all of the tours – which were mainly held at Regional Educational Service Agency (RESA) offices statewide.
“I appreciate the Governor taking part in this tour. He is definitely taking the time to listen to the people,” Woods said. “Everyone seems to be excited about these tours and the chance to talk about education.”
The main issues surfacing during the listening sessions were: QBE funding, the state budget, funding for school security, the teacher retirement system and dual enrollment, according to Woods.
“This is the second year QBE is being fully funded, and educators are happy about that. And we have the teacher raises. Good things are happening in education,” Woods said.
The relationship between Georgia’s Governor and State School Superintendent has also seen a change with the election of Kemp as the state’s top leader. Some state funding for GOSA has also been shifted to Woods’ office, including $600,000 to pay for a new mandate to train computer science teachers and $1 million for more counselors and counseling services.