Tuesday, May 20, 2008

State House Update From Rep Jan Jones.

Friends and Neighbors-

It's easy to lose sight of real change when it occurs incrementally over time. Today our daughter tries on the cap and gown for this week's high school graduation. It gives me pause. Whatever happened to the 4-year-old girl who wouldn't stop sticking out her tongue at her pre-school graduation? Even more, whatever happened to bring about an extraordinary 10 percent increase in Georgia's high school graduation rate in just five years? Just like our daughter growing up, numerous steps strung together. Individual students, parents and educators deserve tremendous credit for the progress. And so does "aggressive incremental change" engineered by Georgia state legislators, Governor Sonny Perdue and State School Superintendent Kathy Cox. Georgia's graduation rate increased by 10 raw points in five years, no matter how you calculate it. It now exceeds 72 percent, which means 35,000 students graduated that would have been dropouts if the graduation needle remained stuck where it was when Governor Perdue took office. The increase has taken the diligent and collaborative work that rarely makes the newspapers' front pages. And it has taken fortitude to gently, but relentlessly, challenge the status quo that prefers the status quo. To be frank, it would have been unconscionable to accept doing things the same way. That would have meant getting the same results. Few state endeavors will affect more individual lives and spur greater economic development throughout Georgia than assuring our statewide system of learning actually works. One revealing benchmark of its success is the high school graduation rate. Below, I've listed initiatives at the state level that have cumulatively contributed to the unprecedented improvement in Georgia's high school graduation rate. The next 10 percentage point increase will be even more difficult to attain, but we must keep pushing ahead. Truly, the next generation is counting on it. Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 46 in the state House. Best- Jan JonesState Representative - District 46(Serving northwest Fulton, including Milton, Roswell, Alpharetta and Mountain Park)

State level initiatives in K-12 education since 2003.
Implemented a more rigorous curriculum in every grade. Independent education experts conclude Georgia's curriculum is the strongest in the southeast.
Required school systems to spend 65 percent of all education funding in the classroom where learning occurs.
Funded teacher salaries at the highest level in the Southeast to attract the best educators for our children.
Established benchmarks for 3rd, 5th and 8th grades requiring proficiency in reading and math. Doubled the number of charter schools to give parents more public school options to meet the individual needs of their children
Created 75 online virtual classes to give all students access to Advanced Placement and other rigorous classes.
Put in place end-of-course tests for 8 subjects in high school and made them count 15 percent of students' grades.
Made an on-line SAT prep course available for every high school student.
Published results by high school on the graduation test and end of course tests to spur further efforts in each high school.
Increased academic achievement standards on statewide tests by raising the scores required to pass.
Targeted state-level efforts on failing schools. They must improve - or change how they do business.
Funded graduation coaches in middle and high schools to identify students at risk of dropping out - and get them back on track.
Reduced class sizes, especially in kindergarten through 3rd grades. Research shows students benefit most from smaller classes in earlier grades when reading and math basics are taught. Created state scholarships for children with special needs that can be used at any public or private school meeting the child's unique needs.
Increased overall K-12 education funding on a per-student basis while reducing other areas of the state budget.
Required all 2200 advisory Local School Councils to be comprised of a parent-majority with a parent chair so parents have a greater voice in their children's schools.

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