January 8, 2014
Thank you for all you do to represent the citizens. As school board members, we want to work with you in looking at legislation that effects education. We look forward to working together. All of this information can also be found online with links at the following site:
Please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss this legislation.
Please work on repealing this legislation.
Previous legislation that has caused concern:
SB 410 This bill eliminates the direct reporting of student achievement. The school ratings now reflect achievement gap closure and "student progress." However, "student progress," as this law has been implemented, does not mean progress outside of grade level expectations. School ratings now include financial efficiency, resource efficiency, student participation in standardized testing, student health surveys, data on student behavioral and school-based relations, and teacher and parent surveys. For the first time, actual student achievement scores will not be reported directly.
HB 115 Passed in 2013, this makes local school boards subject to accreditation agencies outside our state. In addition, attorney fees to defend local school board members in issues involving accreditation will be the responsibility of the local school board member and cannot be paid with public funds. We really need to look at the accreditation process to make it more effective.
HB 713 Career education beginning in Kindergarten, the legislature has pre-selected career paths and by passed parents, community members, and local boards of education. The Career Clusters are trademarked. This causes concern because local school districts must adhere to these topics.
HB 283 Updated in 2013, this bill eliminates the AYP wording and addresses the new accountability to the State of Georgia. It erodes local control. It reflects the Race to the Top Grant application requirements, but No Child Left Behind would have allowed for a more direct way to rate schools. The State of Georgia accepted the waiver from No Child Left Behind. In doing so, local school boards have been restricted to using the Common Core Standards, which are inferior to our previous standards.
HB 797 "The department shall assist in securing federal and other institutional grant funds to establish the commission." This commission is not elected, but appointed. The charter school commission is to, "conduct facility and curriculum reviews." They are also to work with local boards of education to utilize excess space for charter schools. Citizens and locally elected officials are bypassed in favor of appointed commissioners.
SB 289 This bill requires the State Board of Education to establish rules and regulations that maximize online learning. By 2015-2016, this bill requires the State Board of Education to offer all end of course assessments online. The online learning must be approved by the appointed State Board of Education. A local school system shall not prohibit it, even if an equivalent class is offered in person. The local school systems shall pay for it. Parents, citizens and local officials are bypassed with these requirements.
Please keep us informed about upcoming legislation.
We would like to help you review it. Thank you.
Mary Kay Bacallao
January 9, 2013
Dear State Legislators,
Thank you again for the opportunity to meet and know you better- there’s much work before us and I’m confident we can, as a team for Fayette County, accomplish our workload. To that end, I’d like to identify several issues that I believe are a priority, and briefly state my position on each one. Of course, I am available to discuss them at greater length with you, staff, or in committee. Thank you again, and I look forward to working with you to improve education in Fayette County and the rest of our cherished state.
Mary Kay Bacallao
1. Education Funding: Presently we are only able to afford 177 days of instruction. We need to be able to offer 180 days to compete with other states.
2. Common Core National Standards/ Race to the Top. A federal Department of Education program of federally-mandated testing standards for language arts and mathematics (to be expanded in the future) Concerns:
Position: That GA withdraw from federal CCNS participation and return the Race to the Top funding
Rationale: Data in from early adopter Kentucky: CCNS implementation has lowered achievement scores and widened the achievement gap. It is not worth the $80 a student to forfeit our assessment system. Whoever writes the test rules the school. We do not want others to write our tests. Let’s join with Texas and Vermont. In doing so we will jump ahead of other states that will be bogged down with the bureaucracy attached to CCNS implementation and Race to the Top.
3. Longitudinal Data System A federal effort to collect massive amounts of private information on students and families without the parent’s knowledge or permission) and making it accessible to federal bureaucrats, who can then share it with other agencies and even private entities.
Position: That GA staunchly oppose this program and not participate in it.
4. HB 713 (Career Readiness Act. AKA School-to-Work Act) requires kindergartners to select a career path beginning with the 2013/2014 school year.
Position: This should be voluntary, without penalties for opting out of the program.
5. S.B. 289 (mandate for on line learning) Local school systems will be required to pay $250 per course per student per semester... not currently in the budget of many local school boards who are strapped for cash now.
Position: BOEs should have an option, not a requirement, to offer on-line learning. Given it’s potential for cost savings and
individual student pacing, I suspect that Boards would take advantage of well designed on-line courses and poor ones would be discontinued; sort of like software in the public
6. Proposed “Parent Trigger” legislation Allow parents at any persistently failing school to gather a simple majority of parent signatures and either fire the principal, fire half of the teachers, or turn it into a private charter school.
Position: I do not support this proposal; parents may rashly sign such a petition, and create something just as bad in the process. Those parents still have the authority to create a charter school.
7. HB 797 (enabling legislation that allows petitioners of Virtual Schools to go directly to the commission for approval)
Position: I support this effort with the proviso that districts not be mandated to use it (it’s benefits should be strong enough that districts would choose to do so)