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

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 /

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.

Jonathan Shapiro / WABE

Georgia lawmakers approved a bill Wednesday that would change the way colleges handle crimes committed on campus, including sexual assault. Some opponents of the legislation said the language is unclear and confusing.

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Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, is the bill’s lead sponsor. He said the goal is to create a better process for reporting and investigating assaults.

Georgia Capitol Building
Al Such / WABE

A bill aimed at turning around struggling schools easily passed the Georgia House Wednesday.

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The measure is Gov. Nathan Deal’s second attempt to address the state’s lowest-performing schools. Georgians voted down a proposal that would have let the state take over struggling schools. Opponents of that plan said it would override the authority of local school boards.

Martha Dalton / WABE

The Georgia House approved a bill Tuesday that would increase the amount of money that could go toward Georgia’s tax credit scholarship program. Right now, Georgians who donate to Student Scholarship Organizations, or SSOs, get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.

Individuals can donate up to $1,000, and there’s a $2,500 limit for couples. The maximum donation for corporations is $10,000. The SSO scholarships are used to send students enrolled in public schools to private ones. 

David Goldman / Associated Press

When it comes to sexual assault claims on college campuses, there are many gray areas. Cases are often based on “he said, she said" testimony.

Monday, a Georgia House committee passed a bill that aims to establish fair processes on campus for both parties. Rep. Earl Ehrhart, R-Powder Springs, sponsored House Bill 51 because, he said, too many male college students in Georgia are wrongly accused of sexual assault.

Ric Feld / Associated Press

A bill that would require college victims of sexual assault to report the incidents to police cleared a key house panel Thursday. House Bill 51 was unanimously approved by the higher education appropriations subcommittee. 

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The bill applies to all crimes committed on college campuses. 

In this June 2, 2015 file photo, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal speaks to reporters following a ceremony announcing a $300 million expansion of Google's data center operations in Lithia Springs, Ga.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Gov. Nathan Deal scored a Legislative win Thursday when the House Education Committee approved his new plan to turn around low-performing schools.

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Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) during a hearing at the Senate Finance Committee, May, 2013.
Charles Dharapak / Associated Press

The U.S. Congress is in recess. Usually, that means lawmakers return to their districts and meet with constituents, but some have been reluctant to do that lately, as some town hall meetings have become hostile. A recent open office day held by the staffs of Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and Rep. Jody Hice in Greensboro, Georgia grew contentious when Trump opponents waited to confront the lawmakers.

rapping teacher, bad and boujee video empowers students
Martha Dalton / WABE

In light of the national 'Day Without Immigrants' protests last Thursday, DeKalb County Superintendent Stephen Green issued a letter to parents, urging them to send their children to school. Absentee rates at some schools with large Latino populations jumped to almost 60 percent the day of the protest.

Georgia state capitol
Nick Nesmith / WABE

When schools struggle academically, is the state obligated to intervene? If so, to what degree? Georgia's House Education Committee wrestled with those questions Thursday during a hearing for a bill that targets low-performing schools.

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The bill is considered a replacement for the governor's school takeover plan, which was defeated by referendum in November.

An Atlanta Public Schools school bus
Alison Guillory / WABE

The Atlanta Public Schools held a community meeting Wednesday night to discuss the possible closure of one of its smallest elementary schools. The district is considering closing Whitefoord Elementary, in Edgewood, and shifting students to nearby Toomer and Burgess-Peterson.

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Student enrollment determines the number of teachers and support staff each school receives. Schools with bigger student populations qualify for more teachers, counselors and administrators.

Alison Guillory / WABE

According to a new report from Brown University, Spelman College and Clark Atlanta University have the highest economic mobility rates among Atlanta-area colleges.

The study examined students who came from families in the bottom 20 percent of income distribution (Families who earn less than $25,000 a year). Researchers combined that result with the percentage of students who reach the top 20 percent of income distribution in their mid-thirties.

The University of Georgia arch in Athens, Georgia on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (Photo/Brenna Beech)
Brenna Beech / WABE

In three years, two-thirds of Georgia’s jobs will require some type of post-high school education, but the state isn’t currently producing enough qualified candidates to fill those positions. So lawmakers, educators and college administrators are trying to come up with solutions.

The Skills Gap

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal delivers his budget address at the state Capitol, Thursday, Jan. 22, 2015, in Atlanta. Deal spoke Thursday afternoon to lawmakers charged with reviewing his $45 billion spending plan. Deal limited his comments Thursday to criminal
David Goldman / Associated Press

Georgia voters said ‘no’ in November to a constitutional amendment that would’ve let the state takeover some low-performing schools. The 'Opportunity School District' plan was championed by Gov. Nathan Deal, who promised to come up with a replacement after the vote failed.  Now, he has. 


Now-Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

The U.S. Senate narrowly confirmed Betsy DeVos as the country’s next Education Secretary Tuesday. Senators split the vote, with 50 voting in favor of DeVos, and 50 voting against her. Vice President Mike Pence broke the tie, making the final vote 51-50. That’s the closest cabinet confirmation vote in U.S. history.

Elly Yu / WABE

According to a new report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Georgia could lose millions of dollars if President Donald Trump follows through with promises to crack down on illegal immigration.

On the campaign trail, Trump pledged to end an Obama-era program known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). The program provides temporary deportation relief for some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children. It also lets recipients get work permits. So, many pay taxes.

Alison Guillory / WABE

A controversial bill addressing sexual assault on college campuses cleared a key state House committee Wednesday. The Higher Education Appropriations Committee unanimously approved House Bill 51, which would require college officials to report sexual assaults and other crimes to law enforcement. Under the legislation, schools would not be allowed to conduct their own investigations.

Alison Guillory / WABE

While Donald Trump was being sworn in as the country’s 45th president Friday morning, a local chapter of a group called “We the People” protested. The demonstration started at Centennial Olympic Park. The group marched from the park to Atlanta City Hall, where about 300 people gathered. As they marched, they chanted slogans that included, “Not my president!” and “The people united will never be defeated!”

Group member Jacob York said he’s politically conservative, but couldn’t support Trump.  

State Senator Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody) chairs the working group looking into whether foster care in Georgia would benefit from an increased level of privatization.
David Goldman / Associated Press

For years, some education advocates have urged lawmakers to create a needs-based college scholarship program in Georgia. That is, financial aid that’s based on a family’s income level. Georgia’s HOPE scholarship is merit-based, meaning students need to earn certain grades to receive it.

Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press

President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary, Betsy DeVos, answered questions during a sometimes fiery Senate committee hearing Tuesday. DeVos has been criticized by Democrats and teachers’ unions for her support of school choice, vouchers and charter schools.

DeVos and her husband, David, are billionaires who have invested heavily in charter school advocacy in their home state of Michigan. Some critics have viewed that as an attempt to “privatize” public schools.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Applications opened Thursday for a new online master’s degree program at Georgia Tech. The university is hoping to repeat the success of its first online master's program in computer science, launched in 2014.

A recent Harvard study said that program alone will likely increase the number of Americans earning computer science degrees by seven percent.

David Goldman / WABE

During his State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Nathan Deal said developing a new plan to help struggling schools will be a priority this Legislative session. In November, voters said "no" to Deal's original plan to turn those schools around.