Gov. Kemp: My focus is students and parents, not partisan agendas

Georgia’s governor cites teacher pay raise and proposed increase in school funding
Gov. Brian Kemp observes a mock courtroom during a tour of the Alliance Academy for Innovation in Cumming on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ben Gray

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Gov. Brian Kemp observes a mock courtroom during a tour of the Alliance Academy for Innovation in Cumming on Monday, Jan. 31, 2022. (Ben Gray for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

Credit: Ben Gray

In a guest column, Gov. Brian Kemp sets out his education policy goals for the legislative session.

By Brian Kemp

As we begin the 2022 legislative session, thanks to consistent conservative leadership, Georgia is positioned to have yet another historic year for education.

Since I took office, my administration has led the charge on a historic teacher pay raise, prioritized teacher recruitment and retention, and fought to keep our kids in the classroom throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Because we put our students first and kept our state open, we now have the opportunity as state leaders to invest historic levels of state funds in K-12 students, teachers and schools.

Over the last two years, students, parents, teachers, administrators, and school staff have gone above and beyond to weather the pandemic, while keeping a safe and rewarding learning environment.

Working together this year, my fiscal year 2023 budget proposal to the General Assembly includes the final installment of $2,000 to fulfill my campaign promise to raise teacher pay by $5,000 during my first term.

In this year’s budget proposal, my office also recommends a one-time supplement of $2,000 to full-time, state-funded staff, and a $1,000 one-time supplement to part-time staff, bus drivers, school nurses, and nutrition workers.

And to ensure schools in every district are equipped with the resources necessary to provide a world-class education to Georgia children, I’m proposing the state fully fund the school funding formula to hire more teachers, reduce class sizes, and ensure students’ needs are met. That means $1.4 billion sent directly to local school districts, and the highest amount of funds spent per K-12 student in our state’s history.

But when it comes to education in our state, it’s about a lot more than money and resources.

As the parents of three daughters, one who is in her first year as a public school teacher, Marty and I share the same concerns many parents have about what we are seeing in schools across the country.

From the classroom to the ballfield, there are those who are intent on dividing our kids along political lines, pushing partisan agendas and indoctrinating students from all walks of life.

This is wrong. It’s dangerous. And as long as I’m governor, it will not take root in Georgia.

This legislative session, I look forward to working with members of the General Assembly to protect our students from divisive ideologies like critical race theory that pit kids against each other.

In Georgia, students should be taught history, not partisan ideology.

And at a time when our nation is more divided than ever, I am fighting to ensure parents have the final say in what their kids are learning in the classroom by championing a parents’ bill of rights and addressing obscene materials online and in our school libraries.

This legislation will increase transparency and require school districts to have plans in place for parental involvement in schools and provide a clear picture of their child’s course of study.

And finally, my administration will strongly support legislation to ensure fairness in school sports.

With three daughters who all played sports in middle school and high school, Marty and I want to protect the same, equal opportunities for success that our girls had for all of Georgia’s students.

These common-sense reforms that put parents and students first make sure Georgia schools are a safe place where our kids can learn, grow, and prepare for a career in the real world.

In an increasingly divided political climate, we have to stay vigilant as parents. From social media and online threats to political activists across the country who want to take over our classrooms, it has never been more important for Georgia parents and caregivers to have a seat at the table.

As a father, husband, and the governor of our great state, I will always fight to put students and parents — not partisan agendas — first. I know by working together, we will ensure Georgia’s students have every opportunity to succeed.

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