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Posted: March 31, 2011 11:00 p.m.

Holt: House session winds down

We are closing in on the end of the session, and a lot of the most important work is coming to a close. One major task for the year remains, however. Since the U.S. Census has just distributed the data necessary for legislative redistricting, that work has only just begun. It looks like a special session in August or September will be necessary to complete that constitutional obligation.
House Resolution (HR) 248 supports teachers who have put in the work to be National Board Certified. About a decade ago, the state set up a program to encourage teachers to get this certification, and promised certain pay increases to those who went through the process. In recent years, due to budget constraints, the program has been closed to new applicants, and the pay incentives for those already in the program have been cut. Many legislators (myself included) feel that cutting the pay for those already in the program was wrong, being of the opinion that the state should stand by promises made to those who have delivered on their end of the deal. This resolution expresses legislative intent that Georgia return to funding those incentives when the economy improves. While such a resolution is not immediately binding, it does send a clear message about priorities in the future. It passed 63 to 28 (with my "yes").
HR 381 was intended to encourage the federal government to modernize the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976. The resolution stems from a concern that the federal laws involved are getting out of date and should be revised.
While I partially see that point, I agreed with a number of other members that the resolution should also have addressed repealing sections of that act that have served no purpose, rather than just encouraging an expansion of federal oversight. Aside from those concerns, the author also had to contend with upset from members of the minority caucus over his party switch at the beginning of the session. Whatever the source, the cascade of "no's" was sufficient to kill the bill. I voted against the resolution, and it failed with only 80 votes for and 86 against.
HR 491 is a resolution expressing legislative encouragement of work by the Professional Standards Commission and other arms of government involving accreditation of teachers. The PSC has been implementing standards calling for school administrators and lead teachers to receive training in coaching methods intended to help them mentor less experienced teachers in their professional growth. I supported the measure, and it passed 149 to 7.
Having a slow week on the House floor gives me a chance to brief you on another topic. Before State School Superintendent Kathy Cox left office, she had the state Department of Education upgrade their website, and it is worth taking a look. The site is at www.gadoe.org and it has a lot of information tailored to the needs of parents and teachers, as well as plenty of interest to the general public. It provides obvious material like definitions of the seemingly limitless acronyms used in modern education. But far more interesting is the capability to examine performance data on individual schools and school systems. You can view this information broken down by grade, gender, race, disability and economic status. It is a great tool for parents to get information on their child's school, and for teachers to find information on the many programs and standards they have to keep up with.
Overall, it is an excellent way to employ the Internet.

Contact State Rep. Dogu Holt (R-Social Circle) at (404) 656-0152, or at Doug@DougHolt.org.

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