Martha Dalton

Reporter, Fill-in Host

Martha Dalton is a native of Atlanta, Georgia. She came to WABE in May 2010 after working at CNN Radio. 

Martha covers education and immigration issues in the metro Atlanta area and statewide. She also reports on how federal education policy is enacted at the local level. She has covered the DeKalb County school district extensively, including governor’s recent decision to replace six board members. She reported on the indictment of 35 former educators in the Atlanta Public Schools.  Martha has worked in partnership with NPR and its StateImpact project on reporting key educational issues, such as 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

Martha has worked for radio stations in Atlanta, Savannah, and Charleston, S.C.  In her former life, she worked for ten years 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. 

You can follow Martha on Tumblr and Twitter

Ways to Connect

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Delta Air Lines

Children with autism could now have an easier time traveling by plane from Atlanta.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport joined forces with Delta Air Lines and autism advocacy group The Arc to create a multi-sensory room for passengers with autism and other intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The room opened this month, in honor of Autism Awareness Month.

The space is small, but Stacey Ramirez, state director of The Arc Georgia, says that’s intentional.

APS headquarters
Nick Nesmith / WABE

 

In November, voters will decide whether the state should be able to take over underperforming schools. However, officials with the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) aren’t waiting for the vote.

The board of education approved a "school turnaround" plan last month, but some parents at a school board meeting Monday night said the district has ignored their concerns.  

Students and teacher work in the robotics class at Charles R. Drew Charter School Elementary Academy.
East Lake Foundation / Courtesy of East Lake Foundation

Local school districts are looking to hire hundreds of teachers to start work next fall. But state officials say there's a "teacher dropout crisis" in Georgia; almost half of them leave within five years.

WABE's Martha Dalton spoke about the issue with Tyler Gwynn, a recruiter for the Cobb County schools. The conversation starts with the challenge of keeping good teachers once they're hired.

Martha Dalton / WABE

It’s a safe bet that most teachers don’t enter the profession to get wealthy. Still, some school districts have tried to entice teachers to take hard-to-fill jobs by offering financial incentives.  

For example, the Fulton County Schools offered signing bonuses this year to teachers willing to work in "critical needs" areas. Those include math, science, special education and foreign language teaching jobs, as well as positions in schools with low-income populations.

But it’s unclear whether that approach is an effective long-term solution.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Hundreds of Marietta families are in limbo. Their neighborhood faces re-zoning, but the zoning plan is up in the air.  

Juana Juarez says the thought of moving makes her sad.

“We have good neighbors,” she says. “I have children. I like their school.”

Mary Baker doesn't want to move either.

“I just think they have targeted us because they think our homes are not valuable and our families are not valuable,” Baker says.

Fulton County Schools

The Fulton County School Board Thursday offered Dr. Jeff Rose of the Beaverton, Oregon School District the job of superintendent. The move came after a required two-week public comment period. 

Rose was the first candidate the school board interviewed for the position. Board President Linda McCain said he made a good impression.

“As we interviewed him and got to know him, it became very clear that his leadership style and the way that he could articulate his philosophy and his passion for education would be a great asset to all the students in Fulton County," she said. 

Georgia Department of Corrections

Attorneys for Georgia Death Row inmate Joshua Bishop have asked the state Board of Pardons and Paroles Wednesday to spare his life.  

Defense lawyer Wilson DuBose said Bishop had an abusive mother, and had lived in 16 foster homes by the age of 15, when he was thrown out on the street. He said this troubled childhood led Bishop to beat a Milledgeville man named Leverette Morrison to death in 1994.

Georgia State University
Catherine Mullins / WABE

The SunTrust Foundation has awarded a $2 million grant to Georgia State University to create a first-of-its kind student financial management center.

The idea is to provide guidance for students facing financial problems that could keep them from earning degrees.

Tim Renick, GSU’s Vice Provost and Vice President of enrollment, management and student success, says advisors will help students navigate financial issues — both big or small.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Filmmakers who come to Georgia can get tax credits for up to 30 percent of their production costs. In addition to that, the state Legislature has passed a bill that would waive sales taxes on Superbowl tickets should the game come to Georgia. But one grassroots group strongly opposes both incentives.

Americans for Prosperity is a politically conservative organization tied to the Koch brothers. It generally favors tax credits, but Georgia director Michael Harden says not in these cases.

US Department of Education / flickr.com/departmentofed

There could’ve been a lot of steam coming out of the Gold Dome this year if lawmakers had taken up some heated education issues. But legislators managed to sidestep thorny proposals this election year and focused on measures that seemed to please teachers.

In December, before the session started, a commission appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal recommended several changes to the state’s education system. Two proposals were bound to spark debate: overhauling the way the state funds schools and paying teachers based on how “effective” they are.

Tenth grade students take a chemistry test while in class at Springfield High School in Springfield, Ill. Illinois high school juniors will be tested on writing skills for the first time in years next spring during state standardized tests.
Seth Perlman / AP Photo, File

The U.S. Census Bureau projects by the year 2030, Georgia will have more residents of retirement age than in the workforce. At the same time, some local districts are considering exempting senior citizens from paying the school portion of their property taxes. This could mean less money for schools.

Matthew Ladner, a senior advisor for policy and research at the Foundation for Excellence in Education, says districts that want to ease the tax burden for seniors will likely have to make some tough choices.

Gov. Nathan Deal signs legislation to create an Opportunity School District in Georgia. The measure would allow the state to step in and help underperforming schools if voters approve it in the fall.
Brenna Beach / WABE

A coalition of groups including the Georgia Federation of Teachers, the League of Women Voters and the AFL-CIO publicly opposed Gov. Nathan Deal’s school takeover plan Tuesday. The Georgia Legislature passed the measure last year. If voters approve it in a November referendum, the state constitution will be amended to include it.

It’s too late to change the legislation, which creates an "Opportunity School District" to manage so-called "chronically failing" schools.

U.S. Department of Education/flickr / U.S. Department of Education/flickr

It may have been hard to notice Tuesday in the midst of the presidential election buzz, but the country officially got a new education secretary.

John King, the former education commissioner for the state of New York, was sworn in this week.

Fulton County Schools

The Fulton County schools announced Thursday it has tapped Jeff Rose, current superintendent of Beaverton School District in Oregon, as its new finalist for superintendent. He replaces former sole candidate Philip Lanoue of Clarke County, Georgia, who withdrew from consideration.

 

Susan Walsh / AP Photo

U.S. Education Secretary John King came to Georgia State University Wednesday. King says he was here to gather research on how to increase college graduation rates nationwide.  

GSU boosted its graduation rate 22 percentage points over ten years. Last year the U.S. Education Department gave Georgia State an $8.9 million grant to expand its work. After talking with students, King said the grant seems to be paying off.

Martha Dalton / WABE

The Cobb County school board will reconsider a newly-adjusted proposal that incentivizes parents to get involved at Pebblebrook High School.

In January, school board member David Morgan presented a program that would bar kids at Cobb’s Pebblebrook High School from some extracurricular activities if their parents didn’t attend school conferences and meetings.

“Quite frankly, I just got tired of looking at the same realities and really little being done about it,” Morgan said, referring to low parent participation at the school.  

Martha Dalton / WABE

This story is part of WABE and American Graduate's Advancing Atlanta: Education series. For more stories, click here.

Of all the problems facing public schools, one that has stumped educators for years is how to get kids to show up. Truancy, or chronic absenteeism, can be a particular problem in low-income areas. State research shows attendance is tied to achievement. Kids who miss more than six days of school during the year tend to see their academic performance slip.

Alan Alfaro (cropped) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/legalcode / flickr.com/photos/ajalfaro/

New research from the Foundation for Excellence in Education shows that as the U.S. population ages, the number of retired people could outnumber those in the workforce.  That’s bad news for schools, according to the foundation, because fewer people working means less tax revenue going toward schools.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Georgia’s Board of Regents adopted two policies Wednesday that address how state colleges handle sexual assault allegations.

Last year, a state committee found schools deal with claims of rape and other assaults differently. So the group came up with a statewide set of procedures, including training for staff and access to legal counsel for the accused and alleged victims. 

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

Georgia students took a new, more rigorous state test last year. Education officials hope raising the testing bar will eventually ensure kids are better prepared for college and careers.

But according to one national expert, it may be tough for Georgia students to know exactly how they stack up.

Courtesy of DeKalb County Schools

In a new opinion-editorial, DeKalb County Superintendent Stephen Green says the district is reconsidering its discipline policies.

The piece is a response to a recent article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which noted two DeKalb high schools had more out-of-school suspensions during the 2014-15 school year than enrolled students.

Shannan Muskopf (cropped) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ / flickr.com/photos/40964293@N07/

This weekend, high school students in Georgia — and across the country — will sharpen their No. 2 pencils to take a new version of the SAT. The new test will focus more on evidence-based reading, according to the College Board, which administers and scores the exam.

martha dalton / WABE

It wasn’t a surprise to Georgia’s Bernie Sanders supporters that he didn’t win here. Many polls, including one by WABE, showed Democratic rival Hillary Clinton had a strong lead in the Peach State.

But Sanders’ supporters, inspired by his raw manner of speaking and lack of political polish, didn’t seem to be discouraged by the drubbing he took in the South.

Shannan Muskopf (cropped) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ / flickr.com/photos/40964293@N07/

Georgia Democrats and Republicans have agreed on at least one piece of legislation this session.

Senate Bill 364 would reduce the impact of student test scores on teachers’ evaluations. It passed the state Senate unanimously Friday.

"All employees need an annual evaluation, but we also want to make a statement that moves to make teacher evaluations more of a tool to be used for continuous improvement, than a punitive measure,” said Sen. Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, the bill’s sponsor.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump gives a thumbs up during a South Carolina Republican primary night event in Spartanburg, S.C., Saturday, Feb. 20, 2016.
Paul Sancya / Associated Press

Tuesday, voters in Georgia and five other states will cast ballots in the SEC Presidential Preference Primary. According to a new WABE poll, GOP voters tend to favor Donald Trump, regardless of their level of education.

“We won the evangelicals,” Trump told supporters after winning the Nevada Caucus last week. “We won with young. We won with old. We won with highly educated. We won with poorly educated. I love the poorly educated.”

Students at Georgia’s public colleges and universities are better-prepared than they were a few years ago. But there's still work to do, state education officials said during a Senate Higher Education Committee meeting Wednesday.

The Georgia Department of Education said over a three year period, the rate of college students taking remedial math classes has dropped by about 7 percent. It’s fallen about six percent for English/Language Arts.

“We’ve seen decreases over time and this is at the same time that the standards themselves have gotten more challenging,” Dooley said.

The Georgia Senate’s Higher Education Committee unanimously agreed Wednesday to study whether the state should offer in-state college tuition rates to some students with temporary resident status.

Current state policy requires students to have a "lawful presence" in the U.S. in order to qualify for in-state rates.

The students have qualified for President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which provides temporary relief from deportation. They sued the Georgia Board of Regents, saying that status gives them a legal presence.

Courtesy of Clarke County School District

Dr. Philip Lanoue, the Fulton County Schools' sole candidate for superintendent, has withdrawn his name from consideration.

Lanoue currently heads the Clarke County School District in Athens.

That school system has recently come under fire following reports that three Clarke County students accused of raping a 15-year-old girl were allowed to stay in school while police investigated. It reportedly took school officials weeks to notify parents, students, and teachers of the assault.

martha dalton / wabe

A California judge last week ordered tech company Apple to help the FBI open a locked iPhone used by a suspect in December’s mass shooting in San Bernardino, California. Apple plans to fight the order. The company’s supporters planned protests to show their support outside Apple stores in 50 cities Tuesday, including the Apple store at Atlanta’s Cumberland Mall.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Actress and comedian Margaret Cho stopped by Atlanta Sunday, but she wasn’t here for a laughing matter.

Cho visited the Little Five Points neighborhood to raise awareness of and provide clothes, food and other necessities to Atlanta’s homeless.

The effort was part of Cho’s "Be Robin" charity, which she launched to honor the late actor Robin Williams.

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