Dear Editor: Article VIII Section I Paragraph I of the Georgia Constitution states in part "The provision of an adequate public education for the citizens shall be a primary obligation of the State of Georgia."
The extreme cuts to the education budget tell me that the state is obviously not meeting its constitutional obligation to the people of this state. The conclusion to be drawn from this is, as in the words of Grover Norquist "I want to shrink government to a size that can be drowned in a bathtub." By defunding education to an the extent that it will fail and fail in a big way while, at the same time advocating the establishment of charter schools opens the door for privatizing public education. So far I have found no evidence, other than anecdotal, that charter school students perform any better or that the schools are more accountable. How can we think of a sales tax in the billions to pay for more asphalt, when that has not solved the transportation problems now or in the past and at the same time cut education funding? Governor Deal has asked for an additional 550 million dollar cut from education, Medicaid and Peachcare. Everyone talks about saving our children and grandchildren from this or that economic bogeyman but then we cut education funding without a thought. While we often say our children are our greatest resource and the future of our country and in courting industry for our state a big issue is a well prepared work force. How does cutting funding address these issues or help children succeed or make good choices in life?
I am a parent and grandparent and it is painfully obvious that what we are now doing is not working as well as it might, despite the best effort of a lot of dedicated educators.
If we are to expect good things from the education system then we need to change what we do in order to expect a different result. What is needed is more, not less, investment in the future of our children and grandchildren. Increase the investment to reduce class size at the elementary level. When I say reduce class size, I don't mean by 5 or 10 students. I mean reduce size to no more than 10 students with a teacher and a certified aide. Children, especially at risk children, would benefit by more personal attention.
It would require a dramatic increase in teachers and aides but the physical size of classes could be reduced and while we are at it, let's use the investment to build smaller elementary schools although this would likely require a change the state policy as to the amount of land required for a school.
If we believe that children are our most precious resource and they are the future, then investment in the future is a no brainer. If a prepared work force is needed to attract industry, then investment is a no brainer. If we believe in the sanctity of life, then investing in our children's lives is a no brainer.
Of course, if we don't mean what we say and we are just paying lip service, then let's just keep doing what we are doing and hope for a different result.