Education | WABE 90.1 FM


APS headquarters
Nick Nesmith / WABE

Next fall, Georgia voters will be asked whether the state should be authorized to take over schools it deems "chronically failing."

If the measure passes, 26 Atlanta public schools, or 60 percent, could qualify for a takeover. APS’s plan to save those schools looks outside the district.

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

The Georgia Department of Education wants the public's opinion on new proposed science and social studies standards. 

The standards were written by Georgia teachers, Georgia Department of Education Communications Director Matt Cardoza says. 

"We got feedback from those in the classroom who've been teaching science and social studies standards for the last several years under Georgia Performance Standards, got their feedback, made some changes, and now we're at a point where we need to hear from others,” Cardoza says. Howie

A high-ranking official with the Georgia Department of Education was fired Tuesday for social media posts that many have labeled racist and otherwise offensive.

Jeremy Spencer was associate state superintendent of virtual instruction. He posted and otherwise displayed controversial images and comments on his Facebook page that prompted a story from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which appeared online Monday afternoon.

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

University of Georgia professors are voicing their objections to a new grading system for faculty members that UGA administrators began installing last year.

The Office of the Provost's plan to give all faculty members one of three grades every year is a bad idea, the faculty members say.

The faculty members outlined their objections in a letter approved Tuesday by the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate, The Athens Banner-Herald reported.

Dan Raby / WABE

For the second time this week, a group of parents met Thursday night to discuss overcrowding at some DeKalb public schools. The meeting, aimed at Spanish-speaking parents, was held at the Latin American Association (LAA), a nonprofit outreach organization.  

A group of about 50 Latino parents gathered to hear information and give feedback about redistricting plans for Cross Keys High School and the schools that feed into it. Most of the schools have high Latino populations and are over-capacity. So, the schools are using more than 100 portable classrooms to accommodate everyone.

Dan Raby / WABE

About a hundred DeKalb County parents showed up at a meeting Tuesday night to try to figure out how to ease overcrowding at some schools.  The school district has proposed several short-term solutions, all of which involve redistricting.

The district has come up with three different plans for elementary schools and two for high schools. No changes are planned for Sequoyah Middle School.

All of the options involve shuffling kids from schools that are over-capacity to ones that have room.

Courtesy of Raftermen Photography

Georgia Tech is building a new lab that would give researchers and students around the country remote access to its robots.

The new lab, nicknamed the “Robotarium,"will be the first of its kind in the country.

Once it's up and running in 2017, it is expected to be home to 100 ground and aerial swarm robots or drones.

Middle school and high school students as well as researchers across the country will be able to use it for experiments, to upload programming code to work with the robots and to watch the robots in real-time.

Students, faculty, and staff are prohibited from using or bringing hoverboards to several college campuses in Georgia.
Courtesy of /

Kennesaw State University is the latest campus to ban hoverboards in Georgia.

Many of the two-wheeled boards and hands-free Segways are powered by lithium ion batteries that have exploded or caught fire.

KSU's Associate Vice President for Student Affairs & Dean of Students Michael Sanseviro said the University was following the Kennesaw fire marshal recommended the policy.

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

The University of Georgia has the fifth-best online bachelor’s degree program in the country, according to new rankings from U.S. News and World Report.

The publication says it calculates the rankings based on student engagement, faculty credentials, student services and technology and peer reputation.

Keith Bailey, director of UGA’s online learning program, says online degree programs aren’t shortcuts to earning a bachelor’s.

Residents near Turner Field say they would like to see the stadium and parking lots redeveloped into a mixed-use community, affordable housing or a major retail shopping area.
Tasnim Shamma / WABE

According to a recent survey, 64 percent of residents who live near Turner Field said their first choice for any redevelopment is for a mixed-use community.

Georgia State University is one of the developers of the area and university President Mark Becker says the results of the survey are in line with the university's plans.

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

Georgia has funded its public schools the same way for 30 years. Some educators and lawmakers are complaining the formula the state uses is old and out-of-date.

Now, a commission appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal has recommend lawmakers adopt a completely new way to fund schools.

Here, we take a look at the differences between the "old" and "new" ways to pay for public education.

In the Beginning

Martha Dalton / WABE

There are plenty of issues facing Georgia's public schools in 2016 — from funding to figuring out what to do with failing schools.

Dana Rickman, director of policy and research with the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education, said Georgia needs to 'mind' the various gaps between kids.

"We have income gaps; we have achievement gaps; we have health gaps; we have expectation gaps; we have mobility gaps,” Rickman said recently at the GPEE’s media symposium. “There are a lot of freaking gaps out there."

Gabbie Watts / WABE

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

At the beginning of this school year, Atlanta Public Schools reduced its number of music teachers by a third. There are now about 40 music teachers in the district.

Even with fewer teachers, music education inside Atlanta's schools does have variety. Guitar classes are offered at several high schools and one middle school.

The state board of regents has approved a building project on the University of Georgia's main campus in Athens.

The regents on Wednesday approved the third phase of the university's $140 million Business Learning Community, The Athens Banner-Herald reports.

The business college occupied Correll Hall, the first of the three buildings, earlier this year. Officials ceremonially broke ground the second building, Amos Hall, on Sept. 18, 2015.

Karen Apricot /

Georgia teachers blame the number of state-mandated tests and changes to the way teachers are evaluated for colleagues leaving the profession.

That's according to results of a teacher survey released Wednesday by the Georgia Department of Education. State officials say the survey tries to determine why 44 percent of teachers are leaving the profession before five years and fewer students are studying to become teachers.

Alison Guillory / WABE

The state legislative session will begin next week, but some issues, like performance-based pay for teachers, are already causing a buzz.   

Georgia currently pays teachers based on their level of education and years of experience. The state pays a base salary, and school districts can supplement that if they choose.

Last month, a commission appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal recommended revising the salary system. Chairman Charles Knapp said the commission proposed asking school districts to come up with their own pay scales instead.

During World War II, American troops crossed oceans. But in December, some Gainesville students crossed time to experience some of those darkest moments in modern history.

Thanks to an open science lab doubling as a time machine, sixth-graders at C.W. Davis Middle school were transported back to the era of World War II.

Tasnim Shamma / WABE

A first-of-its-kind private school in Georgia aimed at attracting lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth and teachers is being established in Atlanta for students who feel bullied or not accepted in traditional schools.

Pride School Atlanta is a k-12 institution designed to be an alternative for LGBT students, though the school is open to any student who believes they're not getting the support they need for "being different," says Pride School founder Christian Zsilavetz.

The state board of regents is set to approve a building project for the University of Georgia.

The regents are expected to approve the third phase of the university's $140 million Business Learning Community when they meet Wednesday in Atlanta, The Athens Banner-Herald reports.

The business college occupied Correll Hall, the first of the three buildings, earlier this year. Officials ceremonially broke ground the second building, Amos Hall, on Sept. 18, 2015.

A new state audit suggests that lawmakers may want to reconsider incentive programs aimed at attracting more and better-trained math and science teachers.

Lawmakers approved the program in the late 2000s amid concerns about a shortage of math and science teachers, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

The program, which pays incentives to some math and science teachers, is budgeted to cost more than $15 million this year.

US Department of Education /

A state representative has pre-filed a bill ahead of the upcoming legislative session that would increase the mandatory school age in Georgia.

Democratic Rep. Keisha Waites of Atlanta has authored legislation that would require students to start school at age five instead of six.

Under the bill, students would also have to stay in school until age 17, instead of 16.

Nick Nesmith/WABE

This year, a group of parents in DeKalb County are starting to see their persistence pay off. 

Fighting for Rights 

Parents, like Kirk Lunde, are fighting for their children's education. Lunde’s son, DeShawn Lunde, is in high school now. Every year, Lunde has had to make sure DeShawn gets the classes he needs. DeShawn has a hard time expressing himself, and his father said he needs help with social skills.


A north Georgia college is among several dozen religious schools that have applied for waivers from federal anti-discrimination statutes protecting transgender people.

Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia, received Title IX exemptions earlier this year. 

Originally designed to fight discrimination against women in educational settings, Title IX was expanded in 2014 to include protections for gender non-conforming people. 

Susan Walsh / Associated Press

No Child Left Behind is no more.  Congress and President Obama have replaced the controversial federal education framework with a new law, called Every Student Succeeds.  The new rules will certainly affect Georgia, as it strives to improve its student performance and graduation rates.

STE(a)M Truck brings science, technology, engineering, mathematics--and yes, arts--to Atlanta schools without strong STEM programs.
Alison Guillory / WABE

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

How do you close the classroom achievement gap between rich and poor when it comes to science and math education? An initiative called STE(a)M Truck believes you need to take the classroom out of the equation.

Victoria Ruffin and Anaya Witchett, eighth graders at Kipp Ways Academy, are working on an invention.

Karen Apricot /

More than a quarter of Georgia students live in poverty, according to research from the Kids Count Data Center. In a new report, a majority of teachers say that is the biggest barrier to student achievement.

The study, issued by the nonprofit organization Communities In Schools (CIS), says kids in poverty often skip school. Georgia chapter President and CEO Carol Lewis says the reasons range from hunger to health problems to not having the right supplies.

Martha Dalton/WABE

A commission tapped by Gov. Nathan Deal and charged with reforming some of the state's education programs presented its recommendations to him Tuesday.

The proposal includes a new way to fund schools.  One controversial piece of that is teacher pay.

Right now, Georgia pays teachers based on their teaching experience and level of education. That salary system is known as "T. and E."

Martha Dalton spoke with Commission Chairman, and former UGA President, Charles Knapp about the recommended changes.


Atlanta Police Department Badge
Alison Guillory / WABE

The Atlanta Public Schools' board of education has voted to terminate its contract with the Atlanta Police Department as it takes steps toward creating its own police force.

Media outlets report that the board voted Monday to end the contract and produce a plan to hire its own school resource officers.

Deputy Superintendent David Jernigan says the resource officers will be armed, sworn officers, who will be specifically trained to deal with children.

US High School Graduation Rate Hits Record High

Dec 15, 2015

For the fourth straight year, the U.S. high school graduation rate has improved — reaching an all-time high of 82 percent in the 2013-2014 school year, the Department of Education announced Tuesday. Achievement gaps have narrowed, too, with graduation rates ranging from 89 percent for students classified as Asian/Pacific Islanders to 62.6 percent for English-language learners.

"It is encouraging to see our graduation rate on the rise and I applaud the hard work we know it takes to see this increase," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan in a statement.

Alan Diaz / Associated Press

A report from the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows an overwhelming majority of Georgia high schools and middle schools aren't teaching all of the agency's recommended sex education topics.

The report, conducted during the 2013-2014 school year and released Wednesday, says Georgia's high schools performed better than most states on the majority of the 16 recommended topics.