Jason Carter on Education
Jason proposed a separate Education Budget--essentially a trust fund for education that will prevent politicians in Atlanta from mortgaging our future to pay for other things. Today education funding in Georgia is a shell game. A separate Education Budget will ensure that investing in education is Georgia's top priority.
A: We are going to balance the budget no matter what. My biggest budget proposal that I think is the most important thing we can do for our state is to change the way we budget for education. Right now, we have a complete shell game. We say education is important but then we cut the same way we do everything else. I think that if we bifurcate the budget and have an education budget that is separate and the rest of the General Funds does everything else, then the politicians in Atlanta will be forced to vote yes or no; that this is the education system that we want to provide for our state. If we do that, you will enforce education as the top priority of the state. Then you have to balance the budget on everything else. I don't think you can ask the people of Georgia to pay more from a revenue standpoint given the budget in process that we have now.
A: At a minimum, money is not the only answer. In my opinion, we have to focus almost exclusively on everything we do through one lens, and that lens is ensuring that we have the best trained, most well supported highest quality teaching workforce you can have. That requires us to recruit and retain the best teachers and treat them well and support them and give them the tools that they need to improve and move forward to develop professionally. Right now, we are not doing that and we have a serious morale problem in the teaching workforce and a lot of small indignities that go along with being a public school teacher that should not be there. My wife teaches at Grady High School and those little slights weigh on her and weigh on me. That is very personal to me and I think we have to focus on.
A: I think charter schools are a tool that can be used to support the public school system, but they have to be part and parcel of that public school system. The way charter school can be helpful is, if they allow themselves to be laboratories for innovation and finding best practices. That has to be done with an eye toward improving and providing a good school for every kid not just kids that are in charter schools. I represent some of the best charter schools in the state. Anybody that looks at Drew Charter School, for example, will see a school who is doing exactly what we want schools to do from a student standpoint.
I was the only white person for miles. But the Peace Corps trains all of its members to speak the local language, and the grounding I received in Siswati and Zulu allowed me to put black South Africa at ease and to participate in their lives to an extent unheard of for most of white South Africa.
All the schools were poor enough to qualify for government subsidized lunches; 2 pieces of bread and cup of milk. For some this meal was the most substantial of the day.
The area's schools were overcrowded. Sometimes 90 children sat in a single 3rd grade classroom. No child had his or her own desk, and many even shared chairs.
Apartheid's residue coated these schools from top to bottom.
I had come to South Africa to battle hardships in schools. I regarded the challenge with a sense of optimism and relished the idea of making progress.
The challenge of educating children in this environment was extraordinary.
While the old curriculum would have given specific instructions, and an exact lesson plan for what to do on the 3rd day of 2nd grade, the new post-apartheid curriculum would simply tell the teacher what the children should be able to do at the end of the year. Most teachers saw this not as freedom but as a lack of guidance. How were they supposed to proceed?
Our job as volunteers was to work with teachers in rural areas to help them implement the new curriculum and reform other parts of their school organization to better fit the new educational environment. It was a well-designed project, and we all felt as though we were on the front lines of one of the most important battles of the post-apartheid struggle.