January 30, 2020

Legislative Session
Day 8
Report Snapshot

Educator Pay Raise Controversy

Joint House and Senate Ed Committee Explores Student Literacy, Top 10 Ed Issues & More

House Education Committee Assigns Legislation to Subcommittee

New Regulations on Vaping Proposed 

Register for PAGE Day on Capitol Hill
Upcoming Schedule

Friday, Jan 31 – Legislative Day 9

Monday, Feb. 3 - Legislative Day 10

House Public Safety & Homeland Security, 1:00 p.m., 606 CLOB (hearing on bill seeking to increase penalties for drivers caught texting in school zones)

Senate Education and Youth Committee, 2:00 p.m., 307 CLOB

Tuesday, Feb. 4 - Legislative Day 11

House Retirement Committee, 2:00 p.m., 515 CLOB

Wednesday, Feb. 5 - Legislative Day 12

Thursday, Feb. 6 - Legislative Day 13
Educator Pay Raise Controversy

As the appropriations process progresses under the Gold Dome, conversation continues about Gov. Kemp’s proposed $2,000 pay raise, the proposed state income tax cut, and cuts to state agencies. Georgia’s school funding formula has been protected from these cuts in the current version of the FY21 budget. For more reading and to take action, read:

-Margaret Ciccarelli
Joint Education Committee Explores Student Literacy, Top 10 Ed Issues & More

House Education Committee Chair Rick Jasperse (R-Jasper) and Senate & Youth Committee Chair P.K. Martin (R-Lawrenceville) convened a joint meeting of the House and Senate education committees this afternoon. A joint meeting has become customary early in the legislative session. The 2020 House Education Committee member list can be accessed HERE ; review their Senate committee counterparts HERE .
State School Superintendent Richard Woods briefly addressed those gathered. He introduced deputy superintendent Caitlin Dooley who shared information regarding Georgia student literacy performance. Dooley explained that Georgia uses two literacy assessments: Georgia Milestones, which measures grade-level reading, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). She shared a troubling statistic: Georgia students living in poverty score lower in reading than their peers who are not economically disadvantaged. Georgia’s NAEP scores have dipped slightly in recent years. GaDOE has developed a literacy strategy, which includes:
  • Collaboration with key partners throughout the state

  • Literacy plans aligned to Four Pillars

  • Leverage resources and partnerships

  • Align to school improvement efforts
Dooley turned next to the Georgia’s Literacy for Learning, Living and Leading (L4GA) Grant. In 2017, this federal grant program was directed to 38 Georgia school districts. Those districts experienced a significant boost in Milestones reading scores. Georgia has also received $179M for a 2019 L4GA grant cycle. Grants will be awarded later this spring.

Dooley reiterated that literacy challenges and opportunities remain. “Georgia is getting better faster, and we have an opportunity to overcome our literacy challenges,” she said. The challenges she described include varying rates of kindergarten readiness, maintaining literacy focus and support beyond third grade, ensuring educators have the skills and capacity to support literacy, and the sustainability of reliance on federal grants.
Steve Dollinger & Dana Rickman from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education (GPEE) presented an overview of GPEE’s 2020 Top Ten Issues to Watch. For more details on this publication, check out the complete Top Ten Issues, HERE
1.      Preparing for 2030: Shifting Demographics and Georgia’s Future
2.      Early Learning: Building Toward the Future
3.      Literacy: The Great Equalizer
4.      Funding: Ripple Effects of Budget Cuts
5.      Principal Leadership: Insulating the Teacher Pipeline
6.      Strong Foundations: Standards, Assessments and Accountability
7.      Student Success: Barriers Beyond the Schoolhouse
8.      Rural Poverty: Endangering Opportunity
9.      Schools to Work: Pathways to Employment
10.  Beyond the Diploma: Keys to Post-Secondary Success
Following GPEE, Matt Arthur, the new executive secretary of the Georgia Professional Standards Commission (GaPSC) described the GaPSC’s primary roles to the joint committee: preparation of teachers, assessment of educators, certification of educators, and educator ethics. Arthur and GaPSC colleague Penney McRoy presented information on the Teacher Preparation Program Effectiveness Measure (TPPEM). More TPPEM information is available on the GaPSC website
Monica Henson, the Deputy Superintendent of the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), also presented to the joint committee. DJJ, a social service agency, serves Georgia’s youthful offenders up to age 21. Henson reported that DJJ is accredited, hires GaPSC-certified teachers and administrators, and strives to link students with higher education opportunities.

-Margaret Ciccarelli
House Education Committee Assigns Legislation to Subcommittee

Jasperse held House Education Committee members briefly after the joint meeting for bill assignments. The following bills were assigned to subcommittee:

  • HB 741Academic Achievement Subcommittee

  • HB 755Academic Support Subcommittee

  • HB 764Academic Support Subcommittee

-Josh Stephens
New Regulations on Vaping Proposed

The Senate Regulated Industries and Utilities Committee heard testimony from community members today on Senate Bill 298 , a bill that would set new regulations on vaping. Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford) authored SB 298 and presented it to the committee on Tuesday, January 28. Unterman is revising the bill based on feedback she received at Tuesday’s committee meeting as well as comments from community members today. (An early version of SB 298 is available HERE . PAGE will post the revised bill when it becomes available.)
The bill would increase the age for using tobacco products to 21 to align with changes in federal law and include vaping products in that category. If approved, it would set penalties for individuals under 21 who purchase and use vaping products as well as those who sell these products to minors. The bill would also require local boards of education to prescribe mandatory instruction on the use of vaping and smoking, similar to current instructions for alcohol and drug use. A similar requirement would be set for the State Board of Education.
Representatives of multiple health associations spoke in support of the bill at today’s committee meeting. Several described the serious health consequences of vaping including death as well as the lack of a full understanding of the health impacts given how little time vaping products have been available. 
Unterman reported that she expects to present the revised bill to the committee on Tuesday, February 4.

-Claire Suggs
Register for PAGE Day on Capitol Hill

PAGE Day on Capitol Hill is Tuesday, Feb. 18. We’re pleased to partner with the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL) and the Georgia Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (GACTE) again this year. Attendees will meet other politically minded educators from across the state and advocate for teachers and students under the Gold Dome. Please make your plans to attend and register HERE.

Claire Suggs
Senior Education Policy Analyst
Josh Stephens
Legislative Affairs Specialist
Margaret Ciccarelli
Director of Legislative Services