As a grandparent and former educator concerned about the future of Georgia, I’ve often wondered how the state is working to lift up our kids. Who is making decisions on how we should measure student achievement? What is being done to ensure we have the best teachers in the front of the classroom? And how can we give parents truthful information on how well our schools are performing?
Recently I had the opportunity to find out.
The Georgia Department of Education (DOE) has been hosting feedback sessions around the state on these topics thanks to a recent law passed by Congress known as the Every Student Succeeds Act. The law allows us to create an education plan for Georgians by Georgians. It’s our chance to get our voices heard and have a say in what education will look like in our communities.
A couple weeks back I decided to attend one of these sessions. As a grandparent who’s seen generations of children passed over because of race or income, I wanted to voice my concerns around accountability in our schools. I went to make sure my grandkids have a great school and our reporting systems are honest.
And the conversation was great! It wasn’t built for experts but instead designed for people like me. The meeting began with a short overview of ESSA, then led to a few breakout sessions on different topics such as educator and leader development, assessments, accountability, federal programs to support school improvement and education of the whole child. It was an opportunity for me to voice my opinions about what we would like to see in Georgia’s plan.
However, during the sessions, I was struck by something disappointing. The room was filled with educators and leaders—but not people like me. As parents and community leaders we have the unique opportunity to add our voice to the plan. We can’t sit by on the sidelines during this important discussion. This plan should be developed with the input of all Georgians, not just a select few. We should all be there in full force ready to give our comments and solutions on what we want to see in education.
Over the next few weeks these sessions will be happening across the state. From one grandparent (and parent) to another, I urge you to make it to at least one. The state is listening…will you be there for them to hear what you have to say?
Here are upcoming dates for the feedback sessions:
September 14: Atlanta
September 19: Columbus
October 12: Dublin
October 13: Savannah
October 17: Calhoun
Also, if you can’t make it but would like to provide written feedback, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary Worley a grandparent from Cleveland, GA and a retired educator.