Georgia must lead in educating our youth for a brighter future, giving them the tools and environment they require to grow, thrive, and achieve their highest potential. In order to halt the poverty cycle in our communities and maximize opportunity, we must ensure our students develop the skills to succeed and excel in the 21st century. Education from cradle to career is essential to creating prosperity for every family. Georgia should be leading the charge in this regard, if we want to see our state stay competitive. Let’s make a pledge to move from providing a merely adequate education to a standard of excellence. While this effort begins in our schools, our investment must extend beyond the halls of learning to address the needs of the whole child, with a commitment to nurture each individual’s unique potential.
Pay teachers what they deserve for their expertise and dedication. In Georgia, teachers earn only 69% of what their peers can expect in other fields requiring comparable qualifications. At the very minimum, we must meet the national average and offer a starting salary of $60,000 per year, pegged to inflation. Also, we must provide financial incentives for teachers to seek continuing education, and additionally compensate those working in areas such as SPED, Title 1 Remediation, Gifted Ed, Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, Vocational Ed, Dual Disciplines, or Curriculum Development which require national or specialized certifications. It is imperative to establish a clear and definitive tenure track to retain the best and brightest, and allow for substantial pay increases based on advanced degrees, administrative duties, and years of experience. Educators are among the most respected of professionals, molding the minds of our students, and their salaries should be commensurate with their calling and value to society.
The Quality Basic Education formula is out of date and state funding is insufficient for the needs of Georgia’s students. Reform is not enough, we must restart. As your representative, I will lead the charge to restructure Quality Basic Education (QBE). Currently, QBE is not matched to inflation and is based on an equation calculated in 1985. Despite fully funding QBE mandates in 2019 (something legislators could only agree on in a contentious election year), the formula is over three decades old and the allocation is inadequate in terms of today’s dollars. QBE must be thrown out and completely reworked to reflect the priorities of 21st century classrooms. Schools must be safe and modern facilities with access to technologies students will use in the workforce, and teachers shouldn’t have to spend their own money to provide basic necessities like art supplies, paper, and pencils.
Once new policy is enacted, I will support a resolution requiring the legislature to apportion all resources budgeted for education, each and every year. Fully funding public education at the state level will reduce the tax burden on citizens. When unfunded mandates are forced on local systems like SCCPSS, the only recourse the Georgia Constitution allows is to increase property taxes or introduce ESPLOST ballot measures. It is fundamentally immoral for the investment in any child’s education to be based on the relative wealth of the community. To provide relief from regressive tax schemes, we must devise, then enforce, a fair and egalitarian paradigm.
I will fight for comprehensive wraparound programs to nurture the holistic health and well-being of all our children. This new QBE formula must also fund after school programs for our kids. When we think about breaking the poverty cycle, we must tackle the unfortunate truth of juvenile crime. The majority of juvenile crime does not happen in the late night, it happens right after school, when children’s parents aren’t home from work yet and they have free reign. A new QBE formula must fund afterschool programs like sports, debate, and marching band, in order to stimulate both the minds and bodies of our young people while keeping them out of trouble that could impact them for years to come. We know that kids involved in after school activities fare better for the rest of their lives, this should be a funding priority for the state.
We cannot allow the elites in this state to funnel money out of the public school systems and into their own pockets. We live in a society that understands that educating every child is a social good; I oppose any form of school vouchers. I am fundamentally opposed to any scheme that strips funding away from our public schools. For this reason, I am opposed to any form of school vouchers. Taxpayers should not see funding stripped away from their school systems in order to support private, for-profit, schools. Furthermore, just because you chose to go beyond the school system to educate your child does not mean you get to abdicate your social responsibility to pay for the public school system. Just like Georgia is better off when people all over the state have access to roads to facilitate commerce, we are all better off when children across the state receive the best possible education, regardless of whether or not you have a child in the school system.
Post-secondary education increases economic opportunity and personal achievement. Trade school and community college should be free for all Georgians. I am committed to enacting legislation that will make it easier for children to attend college or trade schools. To that end, we must work to make trade school and 2-year community college free in Georgia. Being born in a poor house should not keep our kids from being successful in life. Breaking the poverty cycle means that everyone should have equal access to the educational tools that will allow them to create a better life for their kids.
© 2019 | Paid for by Mac Sims for Georgia