The Georgia Department of Education has launched a campaign to laud public education in the state, which has taken a verbal pounding from frustrated parents and politicians unhappy about low standardized test scores, discipline and student retention problems.
The campaign, which will include an occasional Web series paid for with privately raised money, is designed to counteract the negative impression many have of public education in Georgia and inform people about the initiatives being undertaken to improve education in the state.
“We’re not re-inventing initiatives,” Georgia Superintendent John Barge said during a press conference Tuesday morning at Twin Rivers Middle School in Buford. “We’re communicating them.”
The campaign has a website, gafuturenow.org, where, starting next year, viewers will be able to see actors portraying teachers poking fun at themselves in an attempt to relay positive developments in and explain upcoming changes to public education.
Some of those changes include Georgia’s move to a common core of academic standards that is shared by more than 40 other states in the country; a new teacher, principal and school evaluation system; and a new emphasis on making sure students are prepared for post-high-school careers, as well as college.
The department showed a trailer for the Web series, which will be called “Modern Teacher.”
The trailer cost $15,000, which was raised from private sources by the Georgia Foundation for Public Education.
The foundation would like to raise an additional $150,000 to pay for “Modern Teacher” installments.
On Nov. 6, Georgia voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution to make sure the state could continue to authorize charter schools, which supporters describe as an alternative to failing traditional public schools.
In promoting the amendment, supporters often ripped public education, saying the state needed more charter schools to give more parents a way to escape poorly performing traditional public schools.
The public education campaign — entitled Georgia’s Future. Now! — was being organized before the charter debate heated up, Barge said, adding that criticism of public education predates the charter amendment.
“In some respects, we’ve earned it,” Barge said. “We do have room to grow. But it seems like there are some out there who have an agenda against public education who criticize public education no matter what is accomplished.”
Some of those accomplishments, Barge said, include: gains in SAT scores, as well as gains in ACT scores, Advanced Placement scores and national reading and math scores.
Lauren Eckman, the 2013 Georgia Teacher of the Year, said she hears the criticism of public education in Georgia but doesn’t let it get to her.
“Getting angry or offended is not going to help me be productive and that’s not going to help my students,” said Eckman, who teaches at the Georgia Academy for the Blind.
The campaign, she said, is a step in the right direction.
“We need to continue to highlight the positive things that are happening in our schools,” she said.
Enjoy expanded coverage of college football for UGa, Tech and the SEC, with our SEC Insider, covering all Southeastern Conference matchups and articles by AJC staff and regional newspapers that cover the SEC.