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Georgia Education Per Pupil Spending, Graduation Rates, Tax Climate, Poverty Rating & Free/Reduced Lunch Percentage

In January, I posted this blog about education spending and results in Georgia.

In May, the US Census office released updated per pupil spending numbers. I have updated my regional map with these numbers, along with Georgia’s tax climate ranking, poverty ranking and the percentage of students receiving free/reduced lunch.

Georgia is still spending more per pupil and has a lower gradation rate than all of our border states. Texas, Tennessee and Mississippi all spend less per pupil, have higher graduation rates, better tax climate rankings and more poverty than Georgia. South Carolina and North Carolina both spend less, have higher graduation rates, similar poverty rankings but are rated below Georgia in tax climate. But look for both South and North Carolina to improve their tax climate rankings. North Carolina passed a major tax reform bill this year. South Carolina is working on a major overhaul.

Per Pupil Spending and Graduation Rates

Per Pupil Spending and Graduation Rates

Spending, rate and ranking data

Spending, rate and ranking data

State Superintendent – Republican Primary Runoff

The AJC had an interesting article about the Republican primary runoff for State School Superintendent. The article should be particularly interesting for school choice advocates, parents and anyone interested in government spending on education.

The two candidates, Richard Woods and Mike Buck met for a debate in Cobb County on Saturday. As the article touted, there is a clear difference between the candidates on Common Core. Woods is against Common Core and Buck is a proponent. But the most revealing comments that each candidate made were about school choice and the operations of the Georgia Department of Education.

On school choice the AJC wrote that, “Woods described the charter-school option as an intrinsic right. “We need to fight for the right of our parents to be autonomous,” he said.”

The AJC quoted Mr. Buck as saying, “I don’t have a thing in the world against charters,”… “But as the state superintendent, it is my job to make sure that public school is the choice for parents.”

Mr. Buck should know that charter schools ARE public schools. Why do the educrats within the Georgia DOE continue to see charter schools as something outside of public education? Perhaps public education is only public to them when they can control it? And, if there are no other public choices for parents, how can his statement about choice be meaningful?

The AJC article went on to say, “The debate moved to rapid-fire answers about firearms in schools, Department of Education staffing and test frequency. Woods said he would have carried a gun to protect students and teachers, would like to launch a full audit of the DOE to assess budget issues and would work to decrease the frequency of tests.

Buck preferred hiring more school resource officers over allowing more guns and described frequent testing as an accountability measure. He also said he believed the DOE is already understaffed, especially after recent budget cuts.”

One of the central principles uniting Republicans is fiscal responsibility. Republicans that will be voting in the runoff should note that one candidate, Richard Woods, stated that he would audit the Georgia DOE. The other candidate, Mike Buck, said the Georgia DOE is understaffed. That sounds like he is already planning to grow the largest bureaucracy in the state. Let’s be clear on what that means: It’s reaching into your wallet for more of your money. Georgia already spends more per pupil than all of our borders states and gets worse results. Spending more money will only continue to subsidize failure. The Georgia DOE must restructure and deliver value and results for the kids and taxpayers of our state.

I hope all the voters out there take note of this article. Richard Woods was the only candidate that espoused conservative financial principles. He is the only candidate that said parents have rights and spoke positively about charter schools as an option. I hope Republican voters are paying attention.

Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform support Nancy Jester

Grover Norquist, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Cost of Government Center announced their support of Nancy Jester today in the Republican Primary for Georgia State School Superintendent.

“ATR and COGC  laud the efforts of Ms. Jester to improve the education system in the state of Georgia through sensible spending, increased transparency and strong accountability” said Norquist.

Mr. Norquist is the president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a taxpayer advocacy group he founded in 1985 at President Reagan’s request.

Jester said, “I am honored that Mr. Norquist, ATR, and the Cost of Government Center are supporting my campaign.  I am dedicated to giving Georgians transparency and robust disclosures so they can see how their education tax dollars are being spent.”

Please help spread the word by forwarding this email to your friends and family.  Ask them to join you, Grover Norquist, Erick Erickson, Sen. Josh McKoon and former Sen. Eric Johnson in voting for Nancy Jester, the proven, effective, conservative candidate for Georgia State School Superintendent.

And on election day, or when you go vote early, remember, “Nancy Jester is sixth on the ballot, first for kids and taxpayers.”

DeKalb Accreditation

I am pleased to hear the DeKalb school system’s accreditation status has been upgraded from “probation” to “warned”.  I worked diligently to shine light on the poor fiscal management of DeKalb.  Some of my work was even cited in the SACS report from 2012.   Clearly DeKalb still has a long way to go.  Academic achievement and growth in many schools is unacceptable.  DeKalb’s graduation rate, at 58.9%, is far too low.  Of the 25 high schools in DeKalb, 8 have graduation rates below 50%, while only 4 have rates above 75%.  All four of these schools are specialty or magnet schools. 

I appreciate that SACS finally recognized that DeKalb needed some sort of intervention.  The entire episode exposes the structural weaknesses in our state’s accountability model.  While SACS can provide a useful and supplemental service via their third party accreditation products, Georgia must not continue to abdicate it’s role in holding districts accountable for their results and financial management.  AdvancED/SACS has 5 standards for school district accreditation.  While these standards are meant to drive improvement in various processes for a school district, not one standard measures outcomes for children. There is no minimum graduation rate or achievement level necessary to earn accreditation. 

In many states, the accreditation status of schools is determined by their Department of Education or comparable public agency.  Texas and Virginia both accredit their schools based on defined, measurable performance results.  Their graduation rates are 87% and 89% respectively.  These states are rewarding success with autonomy and no longer accept failure without consequences.  Additionally, Texas has a Financial Integrity system that has 20 indicators that measure the financial health of a district and push money to be spent in the classroom.   

From the Texas Education Agency’s website:

“The purpose of the financial accountability rating system is to ensure that school districts and open-enrollment charter schools are held accountable for the quality of their financial management practices and achieve improved performance in the management of their financial resources.  The system is designed to encourage Texas public schools to manage their financial resources better in order to provide the maximum allocation possible for direct instructional purposes.”

Georgia has 0 financial integrity measurements for our school districts.

If Georgia had a system for financial integrity, like Texas, DeKalb county could not have engaged in the deceptive budgeting practices I uncovered.  School districts would be forced to allocate money to instruction and not a bloated bureaucracy.  If Georgia’s Department of Education had an accreditation system like that of Texas or Virginia, our schools would be rated and accredited based on measurable performance outcomes. 

I am running to be the State School Superintendent to bring these types of structural reforms to our state.

Campaign Reception in Support of Nancy Jester

Campaign Reception in Support of Nancy Jester
Please Join Us
Honorable Eric Johnson
Brigadier General Denis Shortal, Dunwoody City Councilman
Senator Josh McKoon
Representative Tom Taylor
J. Max Davis, Mayor of Brookhaven
Bate Mattison, Brookhaven City Council Member
Todd and Kimberly Cochran
Molly Dye
Shawn Keefe
Eero and Angela Maki
Donna and Terry Nall, Dunwoody City Councilman
John and Lauren Oselette
Melanie Stockwell
Rich Thompson
Terri and Doug Thompson, Dunwoody City Councilman
Stefan and Lisa Victory
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Monday December 9, 2013
5:00pm – 7:00pm
Café Intermezzo
4505 Ashford-Dunwoody Road
Dunwoody, Georgia 30346
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Suggested Contribution Levels
Host $1,000 ~ Friend $500 ~ Attendee $250 (per couple)
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Kindly RSVP to Robyn Lynch
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Make Checks Payable to:
Nancy Jester for State School Superintendent
2472 Jett Ferry Road, Suite 400, Box 177 – Dunwoody, GA – 30338
Nancy Jester
2472 Jett Ferry Road
Dunwoody, Georgia 30338