Gov. Nathan Deal to focus on “chronically failing” elementary schools

More money is not the solution, he says

Gov. Nathan Deal acknowledged the value of teachers in his state of the state address Wednesday, calling them selfless public servants and offering them a pay raise in his budget, but he also said more money is not the cure for “chronically failing” schools.

Deal offered no details about his much-anticipated plans to address schools that perform at the bottom of the state’s measures, except to say there will be an emphasis on elementary schools.

He said he is working on legislation with lawmakers in both the state House and Senate, including Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, and Senators Lindsey Tippins, R-Marietta, and Freddie Powell Sims, D-Albany.

Deal said his proposed budget gives teachers a 2 percent pay raise, in addition to a 3 percent merit pay increase in the current fiscal year budget.

But he also said the state will have poured an additional $2.017 billion into K-12 education over the four years that include his fiscal year 2018 proposal, which, he noted, is about half of all new growth in state revenue.

“It is not enough to simply pour more and more money on a problem and hope that it simply goes away,” he said.

He said he is focusing on elementary schools because they comprise nearly 70 percent of the "chronically failing" schools in Georgia, according to the state's new list, which is based significantly on standardized state test scores.

“We must eliminate this negative so that our children’s future will be brighter, our state’s economic prospects will be more sure and our global reputation will be certainly more notable,” he said.