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A school bus in front of the Georgia Capitol
Alison Guillory / WABE

In early February, Gov. Nathan Deal sent lawmakers his latest plan to turn around failing schools in Georgia. The governor had promised the new proposal, after his Opportunity School District (OSD, sometimes called the "school takeover" plan) was rejected by the state's voters last November.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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 / Associated Press

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.

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

Education reform will top Gov. Nathan Deal’s Legislative agenda this year. But, the governor now says he'll delay a plan to overhaul the state’s more than 30-year old school funding formula. Instead, he says, he will focus on a new proposal to help struggling schools.

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Thousands of mathematically-inclined types will head to Atlanta this weekend for the Joint Mathematics Meetings. The event is held by the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. It includes lectures, exhibits, and a game called, “Who Wants to Be a Mathematician?”

The contest is a high school math competition. This year, 2,000 students applied for the highly competitive competition. Of those, 10 were chosen and will face off at the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta Saturday afternoon.

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

In November, Georgia voters firmly rejected Gov. Nathan Deal’s plan to let the state take over some under-performing schools. The measure’s defeat left some people asking, “Now what?”

During a state House Appropriations hearing Wednesday, Georgia Superintendent Richard Woods said he plans to turn his attention to building strong school leaders. That is, making sure schools have strong principals and assistant principals, and ensuring districts have good superintendents.

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A new state audit says Georgia isn't hitting its target for how much lottery money goes to education.

State law says 35 percent of the proceeds should fund HOPE scholarships and pre-K programs. But the way the law's written is a little open-ended.

It's worded "as nearly as practical" to 35 percent.

The state hasn't hit that goal in almost 20 years. Last fiscal year, it was just under 26 percent.

But it's not as simple as just changing a formula.

One of the reasons students are paying more to go to college is for on-campus services, like living in dorms.
Courtesy of Georgia State University

Ten years ago, it cost students on average a little more than $8,000 to go to one of Georgia's public colleges or universities. Now students are paying almost twice as much.

In May, state senators requested an audit, available below, on what are the driving costs of higher education. The audit, which was released last week, pinpointed two main factors:

One, students are paying more tuition because there is less state funding.

Alison Guillory / WABE

Students at Emory University, Georgia Tech and the University of Georgia are getting their money’s worth, according to new college rankings.

Personal finance magazine Kiplinger has issued its annual lists of “Best College Values.” Emory ranks 30th out of 300 schools for overall value. Georgia Tech is listed as the 9th best public college; UGA rates 10th. That’s out of 100 schools.

In this Saturday, May 31, 2014 photo, members of the graduating class and faculty attend the SCAD Commencement in Atlanta. On Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, the College Board said the average cost of attending college crept up again in 2014.
John Amis / Associated Press

College students who are struggling to pay back loans should think twice before defaulting, according to personal finance website NerdWallet. Students who default on federal loans could expect to have their tax refunds or paychecks garnished. Failing to pay back a private loan could result in a lawsuit, the site says.

So, what is a financially-struggling college student supposed to do if he’s unable to repay the full loan amount?

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

Georgia’s Head Start program does a good job, but could be even better with more money, according to a report from the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER). Head Start is a federally-funded child development program for low-income families.

NIEER director Steve Barnett says Georgia’s program provides strong social and emotional support to kids, but falls short in other areas. He says teachers’ salaries are low, which affects instruction.

Cameron Tucker's charges were upped to involuntary manslaughter.
Joe Gratz /

A statewide teachers’ group is taking Atlanta Public Schools to court. The Georgia Association of Educators says the school district illegally dismissed some teachers.

APS launched a “school turnaround” plan this year. It involved turning over management of some schools to nonprofit organizations. Teachers at those schools had to re-apply for their jobs. Some were rehired, and others found different jobs in APS. But several lost their jobs.

Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Georgia Tech and Spelman College have joined an effort to get more low-income students into higher education. They're part of the American Talent Initiative, a group of 30 institutions focusing on diversifying access to college.

The rising cost of tuition puts college out of reach for many poor and middle-income students.  

The Atlanta Board of Education is considering changing the name of a middle school named after a segregationist former Georgia governor.

WSB-TV  reports that school board Chairman Courtney English has assembled a committee to take input from the community over possibly changing the name of Brown Middle School. Founded in 1923, the southwest Atlanta school is named after Joseph E. Brown, Georgia's governor during the Civil War.

English formed the committee after some parents asked for the name to be changed.

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The group that governs high school sports in Georgia has updated its policy addressing athletes and gender, and the change is getting measured praise from transgender advocacy groups.

The Georgia High School Association used to require an athlete's gender be determined by what was written on his or her birth certificate. Now, the association is backing off gender policy and instead leaving it up to each school.

Martha Dalton / WABE

It’s no secret that Atlanta’s population is booming. According to U.S. Census data, the metro Atlanta region grew by more than 10 percent from April 2010 to July 2015. That kind of rapid growth often leads to overcrowding in schools. So some school districts end up redrawing attendance lines fairly frequently, a process referred to as redistricting.

Students in Amy Wozniak's computer science class in Chicago use EarSketch to learn the programming language Python. EarSketch was created by two Georgia Tech professors.
Courtesy of Amy Wozniak

The White House recognized Georgia Tech last Monday for a coding program that uses music to teach code. It was recognized as part of its national initiatives for Computer Science Education Week.

EarSketch is a free online tool that uses music to teach the programming languages of Python and JavaScript.

David Goldman / Associated Press

New research from The Georgia Leadership Institute for School Improvement (GLISI) suggests school principals may need some help getting the job done. 

“One of the things that we’re finding — and that we know to be true — is that the role of the principal is just growing increasingly demanding and complex,” says Meca Mohammed, vice president of operations and talent for GLISI.

Martha Dalton / WABE

What does it mean to be “gifted”? 

When it comes to schools, the National Association of Gifted Children says the term applies to students who demonstrate “outstanding levels of aptitude or competence." But schools have been struggling for years with one problem: a drought of black and Latino students in gifted classes.

Atlanta’s West Manor Elementary School is trying to change the equation.

Working Overtime

Pixabay Images

Parents who send their kids off to a pre-kindergarten class probably hope they’re learning skills that stick. While some national studies have suggested the effects of preschool programs can fade before the end of kindergarten, new research from the University of North Carolina shows the effects of Georgia’s pre-kindergarten program do having lasting effects. 

Fulton County Superintendent Jeff Rose has been on the job since June 1.
Fulton County Schools

More than 300 people came to the Atlanta History Center Tuesday night to hear the Fulton County Schools “State of the District” address. Superintendent Jeff Rose said Fulton can improve upon its 86.6 percent graduation rate, the highest among large metro Atlanta districts. He asked the audience to imagine sending a child to school on the first day of Kindergarten.

“If they gave you a number, a percent of your child graduating on time from high school, what percent would you walk away thinking, ‘Ok. I’m ok with that. I feel good.’?” Rose said.