Georgia’s top 10 education issues in 2017

The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education released Friday its list of top 10 education issues in Georgia for 2017.

The group is a nonprofit focused on analyzing education issues, problems and solutions.

The list, not in order of importance, are:

1. Shifting federal landscape. We have a new president who has voiced support for broad change; he will appoint a new secretary of education; and states will begin working out the latest federal guidelines which has thrown back to states more responsibility, measuring of performance and accountability.

2. Teacher recruitment and retention. There are fewer students going into teaching and many are leaving the profession. Meanwhile, student populations are growing. Teacher quality is basic to providing a good education.

3. Education leadership. District and classroom leadership can have profound effects on the quality of local education. Districts are given more responsibility for producing positive results. Growing leadership will be key to success.

4. Role of K-12 in preparing a local workforce. There is a growing gap between skills needed by companies and what graduates have. How will Georgia schools bridge that gap?

5. Higher education – barriers to completion of degrees. At the higher education levels there are also gaps between what Georgia colleges are producing and what companies need. And there is a concern Georgia schools are not producing enough degreed people to fill jobs in the future economy.

6. Education funding and equity. Gov. Nathan Deal has committed to changing the aged formula Georgia uses to divide up state money among is school systems. A national study shows that high-poverty districts get on average $1,200 less per student. That leads to inequity in education and opportunity.

7. Early learning. Multiple studies show the importance of early learning in getting children off to a positive start, especially for children of poor families. There are proposals to bolster the state’s early education system. The General Assembly will have to makes its choices and fund them.

8. Student mental health, One in ten students nationally have a mental health problem serious enough to impede their learning.

9. The economics of education, breaking the cycle of poverty and improving social mobility. Georgia has been rated low as a state where younger poor people have the ability to get ahead. Education is a key for success.

10. With the failure at the polls of the proposed Opportunity School District, where the state would have taken over failing schools to try to improve them, what will the state do?