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

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

According to a new report from the Georgia Budget and Policy Institute, Georgia’s HOPE scholarship is working well for some college students, but there are many more who need financial aid and aren’t getting it. The report found about a third of Georgia's public college students receive HOPE or Zell Miller scholarships. Out of the recipients, 30 percent are from low-income homes and 41 percent are from middle-income families.

Drew Senior Academy students in front of the Charles R. Drew Charter School Junior & Senior Academy
Courtesy of East Lake Foundation

The Atlanta Public Schools began this year with a new turnaround plan for some of its low-performing schools. But at a school board meeting Tuesday night, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen admitted APS has to overcome some big hurdles for the plan to succeed.

The initiative involves merging some schools, closing others, putting health clinics on a few campuses, creating science and technology academies, and hiring extra tutors. Despite the additional resources, Carstarphen said it will take a tremendous amount of effort to see improvement in student performance.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Throughout Venezuela, people took to the streets Thursday, protesting the dire economic conditions there and demanding a recall of the country’s socialist president. Venezuelan nationals living all over the U.S. held matching protests. A group called “Venezuelans in Georgia” organized one in downtown Atlanta.

Demonstrators chanted, sang, and gave testimonials about the drastic shortage of supplies that’s devastating Venezuela. They wanted to show support for friends and family back home and raise awareness about the economic crisis.

Voters cast ballots in Georgia's primary election at a polling site in a firehouse Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

If you’re planning to vote in the November presidential election, but it’s been awhile since you’ve cast a ballot, you may want to check to make sure you’re still registered.

Most states, including Georgia, conduct what’s called “list maintenance” with voter registrations. If a county is contacted by the U.S. Postal Service about a voter's address change, that person is contacted. If he doesn’t respond in 30 days, he becomes “inactive.” The same is true for voters who have not voted for three consecutive years. They will also be asked to confirm residency.

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

In November, voters will decide whether the state should be able to take over schools it considers “chronically failing.”

Gov. Nathan Deal championed the proposal, which is based on similar plans in Louisiana and Tennessee. But some local school boards are making it clear they’re not OK  with the possibility of losing control of their schools.

Martha Dalton / WABE

As U.S. immigrant populations have grown, some education experts say schools have had a hard time figuring out which students need help learning English. Many school districts rely on a Home Language Survey to decide whether a student should be tested for special classes for English Speakers of Other Languages, or ESOL. But some parents in the Atlanta area say that screening process has meant their children, who speak fluent English, have been unnecessarily targeted. 

A Surprising Start

A sign marks the entrance to a gender neutral restroom at the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vt., Thursday, Aug. 23, 2007.
Toby Talbot / Associated Press

Georgia is one of 13 states trying to stop a directive from the Obama Administration regarding transgender students.

Last spring, the U.S. Education and Justice Departments issued guidance for schools saying, among other things, transgender students must be allowed to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities. Schools that don’t comply risk losing federal dollars.

Brenna Beech / WABE

Georgia’s lottery-funded HOPE scholarship program has struggled to keep up with demand in recent years. Now, a new report says HOPE could run out of money by the time today’s pre-kindergarten students are in college. The study was issued by a group  of private businesses, called The Committee to Preserve HOPE Scholarships. It says the program could run a deficit by the year 2028.

Niranjan Shrestha / Associated Press file

A coalition of LGBT advocacy groups wants to make sure transgender students are treated fairly in Georgia schools. So, it’s developed an online resource called the “Transgender Students Rights Watch.”

It’s an online tool that lets students report incidents of discrimination and get free legal advice. Everyone who uses the site will get a response.

Martha Dalton / WABE

School started this week for some students in the Atlanta area. Students in Gwinnett, Fulton, Clayton and DeKalb counties will head back to campus Monday.

To get the word out Friday morning, DeKalb Schools Superintendent Stephen Green hit the streets ... and the sidewalks.

Green conducted what he calls a “Knock, Walk, and Talk.”

He walked up to residents’ doors, knocked and then talked.

Emory University drug development groups are working to find a treatment for those infected by the Zika virus.
Ricardo Mazalan / Associated Press

The Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center is one of three U.S. sites conducting a clinical trial for a new Zika vaccine.

"It's a DNA vaccine that encodes two proteins of the Zika virus, and it'll be tested in four different groups of human volunteers,” says Dr. Sri Edupuganti, an infectious disease physician and medical director of the Hope Clinic.

The trial is in its first phase, which will focus on the vaccine's safety and see whether humans develop an immune response to the virus.

In this Feb. 1, 2012 file photo, miles of pipe for the stalled Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline are stacked in a field near Ripley, Okla.
Sue Ogrocki, File / Associated Press

Construction on a new natural gas pipeline in Georgia is set to begin soon. The so-called "Dalton Expansion" of the Transco Pipeline will run from Coweta County -- just south of Atlanta -- to Murray County at the northern tip of the state. The pipeline will transport enough natural gas to meet the energy needs of about two million homes.

Joe Cook, a spokesperson for the Coosa River Basin Initiative, has some concerns about the project.

APS headquarters
Nick Nesmith / WABE

When students in the Atlanta Public Schools head back to class Wednesday, some will see big changes. Some schools will have new science and math programs, others will offer services like on-campus health clinics and tutoring. The changes are part of an ambitious "turnaround" plan aimed at boosting achievement in the district’s lowest-performing schools.

Paul Sakuma / Associated Press

Sales for Atlanta-based Coca-Cola Company fell during the second quarter of this year. The soft drink giant announced Wednesday it made $11.5 billion for the quarter, compared with $12.2 billion during the second quarter of last year. Coke says total revenue fell about 5 percent.  

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

State officials released scores for the 2016 Georgia Milestones Assessment Tuesday.

The results divide students into one of four categories: beginning learners, developing learners, proficient learners and distinguished learners. Overall, scores for middle and high school students showed moderate improvement from last year, while results for elementary schools remained flat. 

Hillary Clinton at the 2016 Georgia Early Voting Rally
Al Such / WABE

Georgia will be well-represented at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia this week. Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich was the only Georgia politician who spoke at last week’s Republican convention in Cleveland, Ohio. This week, Congressman John Lewis, Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams, and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed will all speak. Former state Sen. Jason Carter will introduce a video of his grandfather, former President Jimmy Carter.

Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal delivers his State of the State address on the House floor at the Capitol, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Part of Gov. Nathan Deal’s criminal justice reform plan takes aim at the “school-to-prison pipeline.”

“The ultimate criminal justice reform is education reform,” Deal said during a recent public appearance.

In a Friday, May 6, 2016 photo, LSU medical student Felicia Venable, left, examines a patient as fellow students and medical residents observe during daily rounds at Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center in Baton Rouge, La.
Gerald Herbert / AP Photo

The U.S. could face a shortage of 95,000 physicians in the next ten years, according to a recent report from the Association of American Medical Colleges. The association also predicts Georgia could have the fewest number of doctors per capita by the year 2020 if it doesn’t expand its medical education programs.

Courtesy of DeKalb County Schools

It's been a year since the DeKalb County Schools hired Dr. R. Stephen Green to lead Georgia's third-largest school system.

Green hailed from the Kansas City, Missouri, schools, which went through accreditation problems similar to DeKalb's. DeKalb became fully accredited in February, after serious sanctions from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools due to poor management and governance.

Recently, Green sat down with WABE's Martha Dalton to talk about his first year as DeKalb's schools chief and his plans for this year.


Stabilizing Atlanta neighborhoods will play a key role in turning some schools around, according to Atlanta Public Schools Superintendent Meria Carstarphen.

Carstarphen spoke to reporters at a media roundtable. She touted the district's school turnaround plan, which targets the district's lowest-performing schools. The plan includes merging some schools, closing others and offering wrap-around services to families, like community health clinics on school campuses. 

Martha Dalton / WABE

Protestors gathered at Atlanta’s city hall Monday night. The group wants changes to Atlanta’s police force in the aftermath of police shootings in Minnesota and Louisiana. Organizers weren’t satisfied after an earlier meeting with Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.

Some activists associated with a movement called “ATL is ready” met with the mayor. They said they wanted a public meeting, but instead Reed met with them privately. Organizer Avery Jackson was included in that meeting. At city hall Monday night, he said the group presented a list of demands to the mayor.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

In response to unsafe lead levels in the water supply in Flint, Michigan, the Atlanta Public Schools decided to test its water sources for lead. The district has received about half the results. So far, most sources have tested within acceptable levels established by the Environmental Protection Agency. Sources with lead levels above the federal limit are taken out of commission.

“We immediately move that area from any kind of public consumption,” said Pat St. Claire, Atlanta Public Schools' executive director of communications.

Martha Dalton / WABE

This story is part of "Atlanta Remembers: The 1996 Olympics," WABE's series on the impact of the 1996 Summer Olympics on Atlanta, 20 years later. For more stories, click here.  

When the Summer Olympics came to Atlanta 20 years ago, organizers had to build dozens of sporting venues from scratch.

The price tag was $1.7 billion. All the money was raised through private donations.

Two decades later, some venues are thriving, while others have languished.

Jaime Henry-White / Associated Press

When schools don't meet state standards, should the government be able to intervene? That question will appear before voters in November. The Opportunity School District, pitched by Gov. Nathan Deal, would set up a state agency to run schools that have earned an F on the state's report card for three consecutive years.

A coalition of groups, called the Committee to Keep Georgia Schools Local, is planning to launch a campaign against the proposal, called OSD for short.

Gene Blythe / Associated Press

Georgia's early education teachers needs a raise. That’s one of the findings of a new report from the University of California at Berkeley.

The Early Childhood Workforce Index says most states don’t pay early education teachers well enough. Megan Gunnar, a professor of childhood development at the University of Minnesota, helped develop the index. She says it takes strong teachers to work with kids under the age of five.

In this Nov. 20, 2014 photo, eight grader Aklya Thomas and teacher Faren Fransworth use a digital textbook to during a math class at Burney Harris Lyons Middle School in Athens, Ga.
John Bazemore / Associated Press

Georgia will soon get $16 million in federal money through what’s known as the School Improvement Grant program, or SIG. The program aims to turn around states’ lowest-performing schools.

Schools that participate have to adopt one of four improvement models. For example, some administrators and teachers might be replaced; a school might convert to a charter school; or it could shut down and reopen under different leadership.

Immigration activists hold signs and shout during a protest in front of a building that houses federal immigration offices Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2013, in Atlanta. Eight activists, protesting deportations of people who are in the country illegally, were taken
John Bazemore / AP Photo

The U.S. Supreme Court failed to rule last week on an expansion of President Barack Obama’s 2012 immigration plan. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, provides temporary protection from deportation for some immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

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

The DeKalb County school board has approved a budget for the upcoming year. The district is directing more money toward the classroom than it has in past years.

The plan includes almost $20 million for staff raises, $4 million for signing and retention bonuses for teachers and $2 million to develop district-wide curricula.

The Atlanta Public School system said it’s investigating a tip that 30 Glock handguns were stolen from the trunk of a district vehicle. APS officials said a caller left the anonymous tip on the district’s ethics hotline last week. APS said it has found no evidence so far to support the claim.

The district is preparing to launch its own police force next month. It purchased 90 firearms for that purpose, all of which the district says are accounted for.

Voters cast ballots in Georgia's primary election at a polling site in a firehouse Tuesday, March 1, 2016, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

Leading up to November’s presidential election, Georgia has seen a rise in the number of Asian-Americans and Latinos who’ve registered to vote. But, according to at least one expert, that kind of increase isn't likely to affect the election. 

According to Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office, the number of registered Latino voters jumped by about 20 percent in recent months; Asian Americans grew by 16 percent. However, the two voting blocs combined are still less than 5 percent of the state’s electorate.