Martha Dalton | WABE 90.1 FM

Martha Dalton

Reporter, Fill-in Host

Martha Dalton is WABE's education reporter. She came to the station in 2010 after working at CNN Radio. 

As a former teacher, her favorite stories take her back into classrooms to talk with students and teachers. Martha covers how education policy decisions--at the state, local, and federal levels--impact classrooms. Her reporting has also taken her to the courtroom to cover the trial and sentencing of twelve former Atlanta educators. She has partnered with NPR's  StateImpact project to report on the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. She is also a contributor to the NPR show LatinoUSA and American Public Media's Marketplace Morning Report

You can hear her filling in for local hosts of Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and WABE's mid-day show, Closer Look. 

Martha has worked for radio stations in Atlanta, Savannah, and Charleston, S.C.  In her former life, she worked as a teacher and reading specialist for students in grades K-12. She has a bachelor’s degree from Furman University and a master’s degree from Georgia State. 

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Ways to Connect

Stephanee Stephens and her students use tablets during an eighth grade Spanish class at Autrey Mill Middle School in Johns Creek, Ga. on Thursday, May 9, 2013.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

A federal law known as the "Every Student Succeeds Act" requires states to come up with comprehensive education plans. ESSA asks states to outline how they'll hold schools accountable, support teachers, and spend federal money--among other things. their own accountability systems. Part of Georgia’s plan changes how the state evaluates schools.

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Mastery Transcript Consortium

An international consortium of private schools is trying to transform the high school transcript. Instead of listing subjects and grades — or grade point averages — the so-called “mastery transcript” would list a range of credits for skills students have mastered.

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Flipping The Script

2015 had the highest reported youth suicides in the past five years.
Martha Dalton / WABE

Georgia has shown improvements in the economic well-being of its residents and in its public education system. But, according to the Annie E. Casey Foundation's annual "Kids Count" report, Georgia ranks 42nd among states when it comes to the well-being of its children.

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According to the School Nutrition Association, which represents workers who provide the meals, almost 80 percent of schools surveyed by the organization are reporting an increase in the number of free lunches served in 2008.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

State data show 62 percent of children in Georgia’s public schools receive free and reduced-price meals during the school year. But just 17 percent of those kids take advantage of free summer meal programs. Some state agencies and nonprofits are trying to boost that number.

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DeKalb School Board Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green
Al Such / WABE

The DeKalb County School District has reassigned nine principals for the upcoming school year. That means the former school leaders will have jobs in their last tenured position with the district. That could include jobs as assistant principals, coordinators or even teachers.

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mitchell county school district

When Robert Adams was hired as principal of Mitchell County High School in 2005, he knew he had to change the school’s culture. Part of that process would be changing the minds of some parents.

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Many of them graduated from Mitchell County High School. But that didn't mean they were enthusiastic supporters of their alma mater.

mitchell county school district

Stacie Lamb teaches U.S. history at Mitchell County High School. On a Friday in May, she’s helping her students review for the final exam. They're going over the civil rights movement. Her students get stuck on a term. She gives them a hint.

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"One letter,” she tells them, as she writes a “P” on the board.

“That's a P?” her students ask.

“Poll tax!” they yell.

That’s the term Lamb was looking for.

mitchell county school district

The Mitchell County school district is located in the town of Camilla, Georgia, about 200 miles south of Atlanta. The region is small, rural and poor. It also lacks industry. Despite those challenges, the schools there are starting to beat the odds.

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They’re doing that, in part, by employing some unique methods for instruction and engaging parents.

Barnaby Wasson via Flickr / http://www.flickr.com/photos/barnabywasson/279913090/

A new report from the National Institute of Early Education Research (NIEER) concludes that Georgia does a good job educating the state’s four-year-olds, but there’s room for improvement.

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campus carry
Jaime Henry-White, File / Associated Press

Georgia's public colleges and technical schools will soon have to let students with permits carry concealed guns some places on campus. The new law bans guns in certain areas, including spaces where high school students take classes. However, that part of the bill could cause confusion.  

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In this photo taken Jan. 17, 2016, a sign is seen at the entrance to a hall for a college test preparation class at Holton Arms School.
Alex Brandon / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed nine bills this week. Among them was legislation that would've let students opt-out of state tests without consequences. In a statement, the governor said House Bill 425 isn't needed because kids can withdraw from testing under current law.

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But Meg Norris, a teacher and parent, said kids who opt out are often punished.

Tony Bennett, right, lead teacher at the Sheltering Arms, an early education and family center in Atlanta, Ga. works with a group of Pre-K students Thursday, May 10, 2007. A study released by the Southern Education Foundation reported that the South is le
Gene Blythe / Associated Press

The Georgia lottery provides money for about 84,000 4 year olds to attend the state’s pre-kindergarten program. But only 81,000 children are served, due to a lack of space.

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Heather Duren

Georgia schools are serving an increasing number of Latino students. In the Hall County School District, for example, the student population is more than 40 percent Latino. 

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But it's not easy to find Latino teachers to lead those classrooms. Robert Wilson, the principal at Lyman Hall Elementary School in Hall County, said his school’s student body is 98.5 percent Latino. In addition, 99 percent of his students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

UCB is the first big pharmaceutical company in the technology hub near Georgia Tech, but it's the 15th innovation center in Tech Square.
Courtesy of the Atlanta Business Chronicle

Tuition at Georgia’s public colleges and universities will increase 2 percent next fall. The university system of Georgia estimates full time, undergraduate students who live in-state will pay an extra $27 to $98 a semester. But some students say even a small price hike could hurt.

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Benjamin G. Brawley Hall on the Morehouse College campus.
Alison Guillory / WABE

New leaders at Morehouse College say the past is behind them. Conflict within the school’s ranks led to the recent ouster of President John Wilson and the shuffling of leadership positions on the board of trustees, including chairman.

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"Part of the change is: how do we move from some levels of dysfunction to a higher level of collaboration in terms of working together?" said Trustee Dale Jones.

Martha Dalton / WABE

The consolidation between Georgia Perimeter College and Georgia State University could cause some students to lose their chance at college.

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Al Such / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal will soon sign his school turnaround bill into law. The legislation requires the state to provide extra support for struggling schools.

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Education experts say there’s no magic bullet when it comes to improving schools. However, State Superintendent Richard Woods said recently there is one key ingredient.

“I think leadership is probably one of the – if not the – most important factors in making sure our schools succeed,” Woods said.

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Morehouse College has new leadership. The board of trustees voted to remove President John Wilson last week.

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The trustees voted in January not to renew Wilson's contract when it ends in June. The former president drew mixed reactions from faculty, students, and alumni. Some didn't like his decision to cut 150 staff members in an attempt to balance the budget. Others credited Wilson with increasing fundraising and boosting enrollment.

Susanna Capelouto / WABE

Last week's fire on Interstate 85 has stirred debate about whether construction materials should be stored beneath overpasses.

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The pipes kept underneath I-85 were made of fiberglass and 'high density polyethylene,’ or HDPE. The Georgia Department of Transportation says those materials aren't highly flammable. But Mi Geum Chorzepa, an assistant professor at UGA’s college of engineering, says the material could be partly to blame.

Martha Dalton

On a Monday afternoon at Fulton County’s S.L. Lewis Elementary School, 144 students gather in the gym after dismissal. They are grouped in “nests” of 12 kids each. As they wait for everyone to arrive, they talk excitedly to other students and group leaders.

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Casey Cagle at the Georgia Senate.
Al Such / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal may be looking forward to signing one of the bills that will soon make its way to his desk. The state Senate approved his plan to turn around low-performing schools Friday in a vote of 37-18.

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House Bill 338, also called the ‘First Priority Act,’ would create turnaround specialists to work with struggling schools. They would evaluate students and provide resources to help them improve.

House members work during the House's session on the final day of the 2015 legislative session, Thursday, April 2, 2015, in Atlanta.
Branden Camp / Associated Press

The Georgia General Assembly passed a $49 billion budget Wednesday. House Speaker David Ralston said it’s possibly the earliest point in the legislative session lawmakers have agreed on a budget.

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Under the plan, teachers would get a 2 percent raise; state workers who handle child welfare cases would see a 19 percent pay increase; and state law enforcement would receive a 20 percent salary boost.

Martha Dalton

A bill that would require Georgia colleges to report sexual assaults to police is advancing in the Senate. That mandate is controversial.

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Currently, victims can report assaults to law enforcement, but they aren't required to. A federal law, called Title IX, also lets them file a complaint on campus that’s handled by the school. Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, is the bill’s sponsor. He said colleges aren’t equipped to manage such serious cases.

The Georgia Senate is scheduled to hear a proposal Thursday that would allow consumers to bypass a physician's referral when seeking physical therapy.
Ken Lund / flickr.com/kenlund

Gov. Nathan Deal's new plan to turn around struggling schools took another step forward in the Legislature Monday.

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North Georgia drought, Georgia drought, Atlanta drought
Alison Guillory / WABE

Federal government forecasters issued spring weather conditions Thursday, and the news for North Georgia, which remains under a severe drought, is mixed. 

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said the risk of river flooding in this region is expected to be low this spring.

Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods in his office at the state Capitol, Feb. 13, 2015.
Alison Guillory / WABE

Gov. Nathan Deal has said his top priority this year is to address struggling schools. That's what House Bill 338 aims to do. The plan creates a "Chief Turnaround Officer" to oversee low-performing schools. But there's disagreement on who that person should report to.

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The bill calls for the person in that new position to report to the state board of education.

John Bazemore / Associated Press

A bill that would bar Georgia’s private colleges from becoming sanctuary campuses passed a key Senate panel Monday.

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Sanctuary campuses are schools that adopt policies that protect undocumented immigrants. No Georgia colleges have such policies right now. Under a bill sponsored by Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, schools that adopt such policies in the future would lose state funding.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Schools in impoverished areas face enormous challenges. Kids often come to school hungry, tired or troubled. Now, Georgia lawmakers are trying to address some of those issues through a new plan to turn those schools around.

A new bill would target schools on a list published yearly by the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement. One of the lowest-performing schools on this year’s list is DeKalb County’s Flat Shoal’s Elementary School, which is trying to meet the needs of its impoverished student population.

‘They Come With Baggage’

David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia’s university system recently tightened admissions requirements for non-native English speakers. The move comes as colleges are also trying to boost their graduation rates.

To help more students earn diplomas, the system is also trying to reduce the number of remedial education courses it offers.

Senator Josh McKoon
Al Such / WABE

Two big pieces of legislation came before Senate education committees at the Capitol Monday. 

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The Senate Higher Education Committee heard a resolution that would change the way Regents, who oversee the university system, are chosen. Right now, the governor appoints all 19 members. State Sen. Josh McKoon, R-Columbus, wants them to be elected.

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