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Students and faculty members at Kennesaw State University join hands in protest Tuesday as former state Attorney General Sam Olens began his first say as university president.
Elly Yu / WABE

About a hundred students and faculty members rallied at Kennesaw State University Tuesday as former state Attorney General Sam Olens began his first day as the school's president.

The University System of Georgia's Board of Regents named Olens as president last month without conducting a national search.

Marni Roberts, a drawing and painting major at KSU, said she's concerned about how the decision could affect the university's reputation.

Graduates line up before the ceremony at South High School, Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007, in Cleveland.
Tony Dejak / Associated Press

Georgia’s high school graduation rate has increased the past few years. But new data from the National Center for Education Statistics show the state’s high school dropout rate is above the national average.

It’s important to note these two numbers do not have an inverse relationship. For example, Georgia’s high school graduation rate for 2013 was about 72 percent. That did not mean its dropout rate that year was 28 percent.

Ricky Romero (cropped, color adjusted) creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode / flickr.com/photos/rickyromero/

During the recession, several states, including Georgia, cut back on the amount of money they gave to public colleges. That caused most schools to raise tuition. Data from the Southern Regional Education Board show those cost increases have disproportionately affected low-income families.

Ted S. Warren / Associated Press

Spurred by the recent water crisis in Flint, Mich., the Atlanta Public Schools recently tested all of its water sources for lead. Now other metro Atlanta school districts are following suit.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Fourth and eighth graders in the United States are generally doing better in science, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP. The data, released Thursday, showed scores for high school seniors were flat.

In Georgia, fourth and eighth graders scored slightly below the national average in 2015. But Bill Bushaw, executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board, says it’s not all about raw scores.

“What we’re looking for, and what we actually saw in this assessment, is growth, is progress,” Bushaw said.

Martha Dalton / WABE

As Election Day inches closer, Gov. Nathan Deal is ramping up efforts to convince voters to support his school takeover plan. Deal pitched the proposal to a lukewarm crowd at Impact Church near East Point Tuesday night.

About 200 people came to hear the governor speak. Impact’s congregation is predominantly African-American. The majority of schools at risk of a state takeover under the governor’s plan are in high-poverty areas with minority populations.

Brenna Beech / WABE

Georgia voters will decide this fall whether to give the state the authority to take over schools it labels “chronically failing.” The plan would create a separate, state-run district for those schools. This idea has only been tried in a few other states, with mixed results.

Earlier this month, a coalition of groups held a rally at the state Capitol to express their opposition to the plan. They marched to Liberty Plaza, across the street from the Gold Dome, chanting, “You can’t take our public schools! Local control rules!”

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 student debt is on the rise in Georgia, according to a new report. The Institute for College Access and Success found 61 percent of Georgia's college graduates carry student debt. 

For those who graduated last year, the average amount was $27,754. The report found in 2004, the average amount was about $15,354.

Al Such / WABE

Former Atlanta Mayor and U.S. Ambassador Andrew Young joined the growing chorus of voices opposing Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed school takeover. The plan would let the state manage some low-performing schools. On Tuesday, Young held a press conference with Atlanta baseball legend Hank Aaron and Georgia PTA President Lisa-Marie Haygood.

Proponents of the so-called “Opportunity School District” say some schools are struggling so much that the state has to step in. Deal said recently that impoverished communities, where most of the 127 schools are located, don’t have a voice.

Attorney General Sam Olens speaks during a news conference announcing a new campaign targeting sex trafficking, Monday, March 18, 2013, in Atlanta.
David Goldman / Associated Press

The Georgia Board of Regents Wednesday approved the appointment of Attorney General Sam Olens as the new president of Kennesaw State University. Regent Larry Walker abstained from the vote because of a business conflict, but the rest of the board members agreed Olens should be KSU’s next leader.

That didn’t sit well with some in attendance, like Christine Ziegler. She’s a KSU psychology professor and Georgia representative for the American Association of University Professors.

WABE / WABE

A group calling itself “Morehouse Alumni,” has launched an online petition asking the Board of Trustees to oust the school's president. The document says Morehouse is in “great turmoil,” and blames President John Wilson Jr.'s  administration for alienating alumni, a drop in enrollment and poor fundraising efforts.

OpenRoadPR/Pixabay

If voters approve Gov. Nathan Deal’s school takeover plan next month, it would break some new legal ground. That came up in a panel discussion on the proposal at Georgia State University’s College of Law Monday.

The plan, also called Amendment One, would let the state take over some low-performing schools. That would mean a shift of governance, according to Tanya Washington, an education law professor at Georgia State University.

Martha Dalton / WABE

In her State of the District address Friday, Superintendent Meria Carstarphen said students in the Atlanta Public Schools have made gains, but there’s still room for improvement. Some students helped deliver part of her message through hip-hop and rap music. They entered the auditorium at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School singing "My Shot" from the Broadway musical "Hamilton." 

The theme of Carstarphen's address was “transformation.” That’s what she said she was hired to do: transform APS into a successful district. And she admitted it hasn't been easy.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Money is a big sticking point in the battle over Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed school takeover plan. Voters will be asked next month whether the state should be able to step in and run schools it considers “chronically failing.” The plan involves moving some tax dollars from local school districts to the state.

The proposal would create an “Opportunity School District,” a statewide school system made up exclusively of low-performing schools. All the money those schools get — in local, state and federal dollars — would shift to the new state-run district.

University System of Georgia's Board of Regents Executive and Compensation Committee goes into executive session to interview Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens for the presidency of Kennesaw State University.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

The University System Board of Regents will vote at its next board meeting on Oct. 12 on whether the state Attorney General Sam Olens should become Kennesaw State University's new president.

Olens interviewed with board members for more than an hour Tuesday to become president of the third-largest school in the University System of Georgia.

"Outstanding" Interview

Lisa Hagen / WABE

After months of speculation, the Georgia Board of Regents confirmed it is considering state Attorney General Sam Olens as Kennesaw State University's next president.

The announcement was sent minutes before hundreds of KSU students and faculty protested what had, until Monday, been only rumors about Olens.

AP Photo

For the Marshalls, the combination of law and civil rights is the family business ... and an illustrious family it is. Cecilia Marshall is the granddaughter of the late Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. She is the managing director of scholarships and programs for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund, and she was in Atlanta this weekend for the opening of the play "Thurgood" at Theatrical Outfit.

Georgia State University
Catherine Mullins / WABE

The first step in the federal financial aid process is filling out a lengthy form called the “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” or FAFSA. Personal finance website NerdWallet studied FAFSA completion rates in each state last year. The site found 46 percent of Georgia high school graduates didn’t complete the form, meaning $80 million in aid went unused.

Graduates of Emory University look toward the main stage Monday as the private school held its 170th commencement. Emory says this year's graduating class is 57% female.
Jim Burress / WABE

Each year, 20,000-30,000 Georgia public college students drop out because they can't pay tuition. Some business and community leaders in Atlanta are concerned such a high dropout rate could affect economic development.

Georgia wants to increase college graduation by about 14 percent in the next four years. But some business leaders are concerned that won't happen unless something is done to help students afford school. 

Georgia’s HOPE program is merit-based. That means it depends on academic performance, not financial need. 

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

The Professional Association of Georgia Educators held a community meeting in Conyers Thursday night to discuss an upcoming ballot measure. Amendment One would let the state take over schools it considers “chronically failing.” About 60 people, mostly residents of Newton and Rockdale counties, filled the Discover Point Church.

Most who attended the meeting seemed to oppose the plan, saying it would weaken communities’ control over local schools.

The amendment's supporters say local communities would have input on schools the state takes over.

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

According to a new report from Care.com and New America, sending your child to a daycare center for a year in Georgia costs, on average, more than one year of in-state tuition at a public college.

Last week saw a spike in reports of protests on Atlanta area high school campuses. Students are participating in a sit-in in Fulton County schools, DeKalb athletes are threatening to take a knee at football games and Gwinnett students are skipping class to join prayer circles – all protesting racial inequality and incidents of police violence.

So far, school officials appear to be treading carefully. DeKalb and Fulton County's school systems say they support students' political expression as long as it's not disruptive.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Feeling accepted at college can be a big issue — especially for minority students. Even on campuses with high minority populations, it’s easy for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students to feel isolated. That’s why The Human Rights Campaign is urging inclusiveness of LGBTQ students at historically black colleges and universities.

David Goldman / Associated Press

Opposition to Gov. Nathan Deal's school takeover plan continues to grow.

The DeKalb County school board voted Monday to urge its residents to vote "no" on the ballot measure.  The 5-1 decision makes DeKalb the largest school district, so far, to take a stand against the ballot measure.

Deal’s proposed Opportunity School District would create a state-run school system that would manage so-called “chronically failing” schools, or schools that earn an “F” for three consecutive years on the state’s report card.

Lisa Hagen / WABE

Do minority high school students in the city of Marietta get the same quality of education as their white counterparts? A federal complaint filed against the school district says "no."

A parent, a retired teacher and social justice advocates want the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights to investigate what they say are policies which effectively widen an achievement gap between white and non-white students.

Martha Dalton / WABE

Some school-aged children count down the minutes until recess. But climbing across the monkey bars and going down the slide can be tough for kids with disabilities. That’s why Atlanta Public Schools kindergarten teacher Emily Max wanted to build an “inclusive” playground at her school, Toomer Elementary School.

Max developed the playground for a graduate school assignment. The task was to look at the world through the lens of someone with a disability and develop a project that would make a difference. Max focused on the school's social hub: the playground.

The federal education law replacing No Child Left Behind requires each state to submit a long-term plan to address issues like testing, accountability, and help for struggling students. More than 200 people came to a meeting in Fulton County Wednesday night to give input on Georgia’s proposal. The gathering was one of eight being held around the state.

Fulton County school board member Katie Reeves said Georgia’s plan should give schools the authority to make some decisions.

Some Georgia voters will receive absentee ballots next week, marking the start of the fall election season. One of the issues before them will be a measure called Amendment One. The ballot question asks whether the Georgia Constitution should be changed to allow the state to take over so-called “chronically failing” schools. That would include any public school that scored an F on the state’s report card for three consecutive years.

deepcove / Pixabay

The DeKalb County School District says it will test all of its water sources for lead. Officials say it’s a proactive move and wasn’t prompted by an incident in the school system. DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green said the district had been conducting random tests, but lately administrators questioned that approach.

An Atlanta Public Schools school bus
Alison Guillory / WABE

This story has been updated with APS response on Sept. 16, 2016 at 2:27 p.m.

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