Hubbard said the greatest challenge facing educators are the budget cuts that are currently being implemented by Gov. Sonny Perdue, who is trying to shore up a $1.6 billion budgeting shortfall the state is incurring because of a weakened economy.
Hubbard called the cuts absolutely devastating.
As we are trying to improve public education in Georgia, as we are trying to hold our students, teachers, and schools to higher standards, we are having to do more with less resources, Hubbard said.
After the new school year began in August, local systems learned that they would be asked to cut their operating budgets by 2 percent to help the state weather the current economic downturn.
Hubbard said he feared rumors that suggest systems will be asked to further cut their budgets by another 3 percent for the upcoming school year.
Next year if the rumors are true, systems will either have to continue to raise their millage rates on taxpayers or will have to dip into reserve funds they have available, Hubbard said.
Hubbard said the result of continued cuts to education would eventually result in the cut of programs currently being utilized by the states 1.6 million children enrolled in public schools.
Systems will be forced to look at cutting programs and services to children, Hubbard said.
Hubbard agreed that instructional programs are usually the first to go when systems are asked to reduce their budgets.
Higher classroom sizes are typically the result, which means less one-on-one time with children, Hubbard said. Also the cutting of programs outside of reading and math like fine arts appreciation, music, and creative arts classes are usually the first to go.
Hubbard said in the end it is the children of the state who are the losers.
Other issues of interest
Hubbard spoke of other issues of importance to local schools.
He said a revised version of the No Child Left Behind Act from Congress would be renewed again for next school term.
He said federal legislatures have been looking at the program to which schools are held accountable to find places where improvements can be made.
One improvement Hubbard feels will be addressed is the harsh consequences that schools can incur if they fail to meet adequate yearly progress. If a school fails to meet adequate yearly progress as identified by state standardized student testing for consecutive years, the state has the authority to step in and restructure the school according to what it perceives must be done to see the school perform successfully.
Everybody knows we need to educate the child and obviously the goal is to make sure every child has a great public school and can read, write, and can compute. But many of the consequences being put upon schools to perform are ridiculous, Hubbard said.
Another issue currently being considered by lawmakers is provisions to allow for longitudinal growth models for individual student achievement instead of comparing this years students to last years students.
Teachers will be able to see the academic progress of the individual student, Hubbard said. You will be able to see each year how the student is progressing in areas like reading, writing, and math. It gives you a yearly indictor on the progress of the individual child.
Hubbard said the Georgia Association of Educators has and will continue to support state and federal policies that promote success within the lives of students across the state.
Our goals should always be about empowering students, teachers, and communities to greater heights of achievement, Hubbard said.
The Georgia Association of Educators currently advocates for about 40,000 educators across the state, providing them a voice to federal, state, and local lawmakers charged with making decisions in regards to educational priorities.
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