I have just posted the following remarks on AJC columnist Maureen Downey’s educational blog, entitled, “Get Schooled”: (Link: https://www.myajc.com/blog/get-schooled/georgia-gop-leader-not-neglecting-schools-teachers/477v2mQVo3yD1WxxX0CJXL/
I heard Gov. Deal speak this past week on a public education radio station in Atlanta with an interviewer in a repeat of an interview he had had with her several months back. He was addressing his goal of helping Georgia’s incarcerated to become productive citizens of society again, and part of that included prison educational reform to give these inmates new hope and a new chance to be productive citizens. I applaud Gov. Deal’s commitment to, and effort in, this direction for I have known for over 40 years, as an educator and now as a retired teacher, that when Georgia’s public school students do not meet their individual potential, these students will likely become incarcerated one day, if their skills are too weak to survive in the job markets. These two phenomena are directly related.
As AJC columnist Jay Bookman has written, Gov. Deal has been an overall good governor of Georgia and I agree with Bookman on that assessment. Gov. Deal’s parents were educators and his lovely wife is a retired educator, herself, who has been instrumental in helping to improve education in Georgia, especially for Georgia’s young students, as our First Lady.
Unfortunately, too many Republicans have not believed in public education as fervertly as I do or as Thomas Jefferson did. Jefferson believed that public education should be paid for by public taxes on everyone because students, all students, should acquire enough of an education to see through the machinations of the wealthy elite who might use the underclasses to their advantage for profit. Jefferson wanted every citizen to be a part of his own self-government and that would require a solid public education for every citizen.
Now is the time to heal the divisions of the Republican and Democratic agendas in education in the state of Georgia. Public education is a mainstay for all of our children and helps in establishing a literate and egalitarian society. Charter schools can also exist, but should not be the educational mainstay, but as an alternative for the learning styles of some children. Let us heal, together, now, and support public education, its teachers, administrators, and its students with our voices and with our financial resources.
Public education can be innovative and its teachers can seek reform of unsuccessful approaches in reaching all students in public education. As a long-standing educator and reading specialist in Georgia, allow me to close this post with a repeat of what I had written regarding Mastery Learning in the last thread, as an example of a successful public educational reform. I had spent my 35 year educational career in trying to implement the following educational concepts personally, as a classroom teacher, as well as schoolwide, as an instructional leader for the two schools in which I had worked, for grades 1 – 7 and grades 8 – 12, in DeKalb County during the last third of the 20th century:
“Mastery learning requires that each student be taught on his or her precise instructional level, whatever his or her grade level. It also requires that each student be advanced through the curriculum continuum at a RATE commensurate with his or her ability to actually master each concept within that continuum. . .
Moreover, every student in Georgia’s public schools should be educated to the highest level of his or her potential from elementary school through post graduate college degrees.”