The 2015 legislative session was a big one for Georgia’s students and the education reform movement. StudentsFirst Georgia supported the passage of a number of new laws that will have a positive impact on Georgia schools and the students who attend them. Members of the General Assembly on both sides of the aisle sponsored, supported and passed several pieces of legislation that have all now been signed into law by Governor Nathan Deal that will rescue failing schools, increase literacy, and protect students from bullying.

“Georgia students and their families are fortunate that our state’s elected leaders are focused on improving education and willing to address the wide range of issues critical to a student’s ability to learn,” said Michael O’Sullivan, State Director for StudentsFirst Georgia. “We commend Governor Deal, Lieutenant Governor Cagle, Speaker Ralston and all of the members of the General Assembly for their strong support and commitment to providing high-quality public education throughout the state.”

Measures supported by StudentsFirst Georgia in the 2015 legislative session included:

Senate Bill 133 and Senate Resolution 287—sponsored by Senator Butch Miller and Representative Christian Coomer, authorizes the creation of Georgia’s Opportunity School District. If approved by voters in a 2016 referendum the OSD will be utilized to turn around chronically failing schools through the use of several intervention models and by focusing on school level flexibility.

  • House Bill 372—sponsored by Representative Christian Coomer and Senator Butch Miller, protects charter schools’ ability to use state approved facilities and also provides a new mechanism allowing charter schools to give admission preference to the neediest children through a weighted lottery system.
  • Senate Bill 89—sponsored by Senator John Albers and Representative Buzz Brockway, the Student Data Privacy, Accessibility and Transparency Act is a comprehensive bill that gives parents more information on the type and purpose of data being collected and ensures key student data used to monitor and address academic progress is properly protected.
  • House Bill 502—sponsored by Representative Mike Dudgeon and Senator Chuck Hufstetler, a larger education bill that includes a provision encouraging reading and mathematics assessments in the lower grades when interventions can be the most effective.
  • House Bill 131—sponsored by Representative Pam Dickerson and Senator Rick Jeffares, expands t he definition of bullying to include school-related activities that occur off-campus or electronically.
  • Senate Bill 164—sponsored by Senator Emanuel Jones and Representative Randy Nix, authorizes, encourages and allows the provision of funds to local systems to implement positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS) and response to intervention (RTI) programs.

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GeorgiaCAN: The Georgia Campaign for Achievement Now, formerly StudentsFirst Georgia, has been active in Georgia since 2011. We are a nonprofit education organization that advocates for all students across the state to have access to high-quality schools. Our goal is to ensure that students across Georgia have the opportunity to attend great schools and receive a great education that prepares them for future academic and professional success. We work to advance policies and programs that prioritize positive impacts for students statewide—especially those with the greatest needs.

Michael is the Executive Director of GeorgiaCAN.

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