Georgia’s education system is at a crossroads, and is in dire need of bold leadership to restore hope for Georgia’s children, families, and educators. For too long our state has lagged behind the nation, and the world in education, the state of our education system in Georgia is depriving our young people of opportunity, failing to support our educators, burdening families, and weakening our economy. After serving our nation, Otha is ready to restore hope and lead our school system, with an approach to our education challenges that is locally focused, collaborative, and focuses on policies that strengthen the quality of our education, and strengthens our families, rather than top down regulation. In 2018, we can elect a leader for change that will work to support every Georgia school, and every Georgia family, read on for Otha’s plan, and click here to learn more about Otha.
1: Fighting for Strong Funding for Every Georgia School
We cannot expect Georgia to excel if we allow disparities between school districts and the fate of geography to leave students behind. When districts cannot afford basic needs, students may never catch up – and we have cost them their potential. Our politicians at the State Capitol have pushed the burden down to communities that cannot afford it and that has led to ever increasing taxes. This is a race to the bottom that has hurt urban, suburban, and rural schools and leaves us short changing our future and doing serious damage to our growth.
I will work to fund Georgia schools statewide, with the State Budget once again paying its fair share instead of forcing local taxpayers to bear ever increasing taxes. I will make sure that every politician in the state knows that cutting school funding hurts their local communities – seniors, working families, small businesses, and our economic growth that has already suffered and cost Georgia dearly.
2: Restoring Accountability in Georgia Schools
In the last 4 years we have seen Georgia Schools sink lower from 32nd in the nation in 2014, now we are ranked 38th in the Nation for education quality. In this time span, we have more testing, more budget cuts, a rising number of underperforming schools, and a lack of accountability with cheating scandals and local school officials continuing to be rewarded for failure. We must do better than 42nd in the nation in child well being.
I will be an honest advocate and public servant of students, educators, families, and the community. I have lived my life and conducted myself with a code of honor and integrity that I will carry as an example into our schools – empowering our educators and students and restoring hope by showing that we don’t have to cut corners to meet testing standards or sacrifice quality education.
3: Providing Essential Resources to Every Georgia Student
As we have raced towards the bottom we have left those students and families with the most need suffering in our wake. Death by a thousand cuts has left schools without the basic resources to support gifted students, students seeking college prep, students with special needs, and students for whom school is their only relief from a bad situation. This situation has been especially brutal to families with special needs students. Georgia must do more to ensure that we are supporting their education and letting them be with their peers.
I will work directly with educators across the state, advocates, and parents to understand what each district needs and develop a resource plan that uses every Federal, State, and program available to us to give our students the best we can.
4: A Holistic Approach to Education in Georgia
I believe we cannot test our way out of our problems. A student that spends more time learning how to perform on a standardized test than how to think critically, understand concepts and learn on their own is not an example of us succeeding. We need a well-rounded education program that understands the needs of students ranging from advanced college prep and opportunities to working with trade and vocational programs.
We have seen how schools that use wraparound programs succeed by ensuring a student can learn. We know that students who are struggling because of issues outside the classroom are not just at risk themselves but can make it harder for the students around them. I will address this directly with support for kids facing problems at home and for anti-bullying and anti-discrimination programs in our classrooms. We also need the arts, athletics, after school programs, healthy food and students that aren’t able to focus because they are hungry. We can do all these things without sacrificing quality education and educator standards.
5: Hope for the Future: Supporting Vocational, College Prep, and Life Skills Training
We need to show our children that they have options – they can go to college or they can learn a trade, they can explore their dreams and they can earn a living and support themselves. I will expand our partnerships with the business community and craftsman, develop more connects with our state and private colleges(Why private, why not public also?), and most importantly work to create a program where every High School student can have the opportunity to make a plan for their future.
6: Georgia Values, Globally Competitive Schools
If we are going to succeed we will need to give students the ability to work with technology and programs that match what they will encounter once they graduate. This means evaluating our science labs, or technology courses, our partnerships – all with the goal of how can we make sure that students are getting to learn with the tools and gain the skills they need.
7: Empowering Parents and Educators Across the State
Top down solutions like Opportunity School Districts, and Georgia House Bill 338, which give excessive authority to the Governor’s office are an example of what is wrong with our education system. Taking more power and decision making away from parents and local control doesn’t give our families and students a sense of pride. We need to empower local leaders, help them with the resources they need and let them collaborate so we can learn from what works and what doesn’t instead of brushing aside those who are fighting every day for something better.
This also means applying the same standards and accountability of our public schools to private and charter schools – and recognizing when they are succeeding and innovating, and how we can apply those lessons across the state. I will work to support the whole family: parents, grandparents, caregivers, siblings and the rest of extended families who are all working together to support our students. Our students need everyone willing to support and mentor them and I will do whatever I can to aid.