Legislature 2017

Home / Policy Issues / Legislature 2017

Education News from the 2017 Legislative Session

State Sen. Lindsey Tippins, Chair of the Senate Education and Youth Committee, addresses a recent Education Policy Fellowship Program colloquium about the legislative process as it applies to education policy. Joining Tippins on the panel are Margaret Ciccarelli, Directive of Legislative Affairs, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, and Cosby Johnson, Government Affairs Manager, Georgia Chamber of Commerce.

Here you will find the posting of education-related articles and other information detailing the activities of the Georgia House and Senate during the current General Assembly.  The Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education is a non-partisan, non-profit organization that does not take a political position on issues.  Inclusion here does not indicate Georgia Partnership endorsement.

Georgia Senate approves "Campus Carry" bill

The Georgia State Senate voted Tuesday to let licensed gun owners carry concealed weapons on most places on public college campuses. (March 29)

Back from the dead and in new form, campus rape bill lives another day. Anyone got a stake?
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) The Legislature produces its own version of  "The Walking Dead," legislation that appears lifeless yet manages to climb out of its coffin amid horrifying screams, "It's alive! It's alive!" (March 29)

Debate over role of schools' Chief Turn Around Officer continues
Insider Advantage

(Subscription required for full article.) The education turnaround legislation being debated before the General Assembly, now labeled the First Priority Act, has gone through several revisions. (March 28)

Senate passes Gov. Deal's school turn around plan

Gov. Nathan Deal may be looking forward to signing one of the bills that will soon make its way to his desk. The state Senate approved his plan to turn around low-performing schools Friday in a vote of 37-18. (March 27) 

Opinion:  Senate listened to student survivors of sexual assault; House mocked them
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Sexual assault survivor and law student Grace Starling helped lead the fight against state Rep. Earl Ehrhart's campus rape bill, which passed the House but failed to advance in a wary Senate. (March 26)

Must reading for parents of students in grades 3, 5 and 8
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

If you’re a parent or guardian of a Georgia public school student in grade 3, 5 or 8 and you want them to be promoted to the next grade, sorry to ruin your spring break, but... read on. (March 24)

Opinion: Three bills in Legislature threaten Georgia's colleges and universities
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) In this column, state Rep. David Dreyer, D-Atlanta, says three bills moving through the Legislature toward passage threaten our higher education system, quality and reputation and don't help or serve students. (March 24)

Mandate for recess in schools gets amended in Senate committee
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Children across Georgia scored a legislative victory Wednesday when a Senate committee passed a bill requiring that elementary schools plan for recess. Before kids pop the cork on the sparkling apple juice, though, they should read the fine print. (March 23)

Will the legislature deliver on education reform?
Georgia Public Broadcasting - Political Rewind

Today on “Political Rewind,” Georgians didn't approve Governor Deal's Opportunity School District measure last November, so what education reform bills will come out of the Gold Dome this session? (March 23) 

What to do with failing schools?
Johns Creek Herald

With only days left in the 2017 Legislative Session, a number of education bills remain to be considered, most notably how to fix the dozens of schools in Georgia considered failing.  (March 22)

Tax breaks for private school scholarships would grow under new legislation
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) A program that lets taxpayers erase some of their debt to the state if they earmark the money for private school tuition would grow by $7 million a year under new amendments by Georgia lawmakers. (March 22)

Legislature advances OSD-lite bill and more tax credits for private school scholarships
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) In its countdown mode, the Legislature advanced several education bills Monday, although few will engender meaningful reform. (March 21) 

School improvement bill passes Senate panel with changes
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) The legislative proposal to improve Georgia's lowest performing schools exited a Senate panel Monday and could soon be on its way to the governor, assuming lawmakers agree to the changes. (March 21)

Senate Education panel OKs state power in weak schools
Associated Press

A bill giving the state more power to intervene in Georgia’s struggling schools is one step closer to a vote in the Senate. (March 21)

Bill advances to eliminate redundant tests
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) The House Education Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 211 that replaces national tests like the SAT and ACT with state tests. (March 21)

Recess plays key role in kids' health
Golden Isles News

House Bill 273, which passed the state House earlier this month, would require school systems develop and implement a policy that allots 30 minutes of unstructured play time for every school day. (March 21) 

Bill to expand industry certifications in public schools advances
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) The House Education Committee unanimously approved Senate Bill 3 that would expand industry credentialing in public schools. (March 21)

Editorial: New school oversight bill grades as incomplete
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia lawmakers must ensure any "Plan-B" to boost low quality schools doesn't waste money and fuel bureaucratic clashes. (March 19) 

Opinion: Bill is step in right direction for improving struggling schools
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

An effective public education is the greatest predictor of economic success and mobility. (March 18)

Mandatory recess on track to become state law next year
Johns Creek Herald

Georgia lawmakers are poised to make recess mandatory for elementary school children, joining fewer than half the states in making “unstructured activity time” as important as reading and writing. (March 17)

Lawmakers shoot down option of electing school superintendents to slow revolving door
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) The House Education Committee rebuffed a Senate-led initiative Thursday to give Georgia counties the option to elect their local school superintendents who are now appointed by school boards. Related story. (March17)

In Georgia, backlash builds on campus rape
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) This subject has two very different sides to the story.  Victims rights and accused rights are both drawing supporters. (March 17)

Senate committee approves "campus carry" bill with some changes
Associated Press

Licensed gun owners could carry concealed handguns on college campuses under legislation backed by a Senate committee. (March 17)

Georgia Senate OKs $49 billion budget, cuing up House talks

The Georgia Senate has backed two percent pay increases for teachers and other state employees as part of a $49 billion state budget proposal. (March 17) 

Georgia superintendent denies strained relations with governor over HB 338

Gov. Nathan Deal has said his top priority this year is to address struggling schools. That's what House Bill 338 aims to do. The plan creates a "Chief Turnaround Officer" to oversee low-performing schools. But there's disagreement on who that person should report to. (March 16)

Senators consider, amend House's plan for turn around schools
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) The legislative proposal to turn around some of Georgia's lowest performing schools got a hearing and some amendments Wednesday, but did not advance through the Senate. (March 16)

Legislature is focused on struggling schools when it should focus on struggling students in poverty
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) In this column, Mark Elgart says the Georgia Legislature misses the mark with House Bill 338, because it does not focus on the true problem that causes some students to struggle no matter how good the school and instruction are. (May 15) 

Plan to give county schools more power in tax split fails in House
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Legislation that would give county schools more power to negotiate with local city schools on how to split tax dollars failed in the Georgia House on Tuesday. (March 15) 

Lawmakers consider alternatives to standardized tests
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Legislation - Senate Bill 221 - that could enable Georgia students to take fewer, more useful tests, moved out of a Georgia House of Representatives subcommittee yesterday. (March 15) 

Georgia legislature: Should recess be mandatory or optional?
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Legislation - House Bill 273 - that mandates recess in Georgia elementary schools may become just a recommendation. (March 15)

Key Senate Panel Approves Bill Barring 'Sanctuary Campuses'

Sanctuary campuses are schools that adopt policies that protect undocumented immigrants. No Georgia colleges have such policies right now. Under a bill now under consideration, schools that adopt such policies in the future would lose state funding. (March 15)

Are parents turning kids into "snowflakes" by opting them out of testing?
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) House Bill 425, which spells out Georgia parents’ rights to refuse standardized state tests for their children, passed the state Senate Education and Youth Committee 4-1 Monday. It has already cleared the House. (May 14)

30-minute recess bill passes state House
Newnan Times-Herald

A bill to require daily 30-minute recess periods for students kindergarten through fifth grade has overwhelmingly passed the Georgia House of Representatives and is now before the state senate. Related: Restoring recess for Georgia public schools (WGCL-TV, Atlanta). (March 12)

Senate OKs legislation that would allow voters to select local superintendents
Rome News-Tribune

Legislation moving through the Georgia General Assembly would set up a statewide vote to return to a system of local voters choosing their own superintendent. (March 12)

Happily, effort to turn around failing schools becomes bipartisan effort
Augusta Chronicle

In Atlanta, rare bipartisanship is working in an effort address schools that have a long track record of not serving the children who walk through their doors. (May 12)

Bill seeks escape hatch from testing; using it wouldn't ruin kids
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Increasingly, parents in Georgia and elsewhere are considering pulling their children out of standardized state tests because of stress and doubts about appropriateness. (March 12)

Former legislator: Schools need resources not takeover
Rome News-Tribune

Fifteen years ago, a Floyd County lawmaker had a solution for failing schools  but it was derailed by the fight over the state flag. (March 11)

Power struggle emerges over struggling Georgia schools
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Nathan Deal demanded Georgia's superintendent explain what he’s doing to reverse a “downward spiral of failure” of struggling schools, as the state education chief steps up his argument that he should be in the middle of any major school turnaround effort. (March 9)

Editorial: Grim news for public schools: More schools failing.
Savannah Morning News

Contrary to public perception, the Chatham County public school district does not have six public schools that the state labels as chronically failing. Unfortunately, it now has twice that number. (March 9)

Low-performing schools initiative takes a step forward
Dick Yarbrough Column

Last week, the Georgia House of Representatives passed HB 338 by a vote of 138-37. That is a margin of roughly 73 percent. (You might want to double-check my figures. I am, after all, a product of the public education system in Georgia.) The measure got strong bipartisan support, including Democratic House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams. (March 9)

Misguided March to Expand Tax Credits for Private School Scholarships
Georgia Budget and Policy Index

The Georgia Senate is considering a plan to expand the state’s private school scholarship tax credit program after the House recently approved House Bill 217. The bill proposes to raise the annual cap on tax credits from $58 million to $100 million for donations to organizations issuing the scholarships. (March 9)

Senate education committees hear game changing bills

Two big pieces of legislation came before Senate education committees at the Capitol Monday. (March 8)

Contradictions in Bills on public education
Dawson News

Last week Rep. Kevin Tanner's bill on how to help our challenged schools in Georgia passed through the State House and will now be discussed and studied in the Senate. (March 8)

Disagreement over who should control Georgia’s school turnaround work
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Georgia’s elected school superintendent argues that he should be in the middle of any major school turnaround effort as lawmakers consider a bill that focuses on struggling schools. (March 8) 

Some surprises part of state health care legislation - Children's health focus of several state legislative measures
Albany Herald 

The health care scoreboard on Crossover Day shows some expected results — and some surprises as well.  A large number of health care bills had moved from one legislative chamber to the other by the end of Crossover. (March 7)

Nathan Deal keeps the door open for campus carry legislation            Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gov. Nathan Deal has left the door open for legislation that would legally allow weapons on the states' college campuses although he vetoed a similar measure last year. (March 7)

State Senate approves bill to test schools' water for lead contamination
Georgia Health News

The state Senate on Friday overwhelmingly approved a bill to require Georgia schools and child care centers to test for lead contamination in their water. (March 6)

Education, health care top issues as Georgia lawmakers pass deadline      Associated Press

Struggling schools, opioid addiction and the state's marijuana program appear likely to dominate the rest of the state's legislative session. (March 5) 

House Bill 425: Should parents decide what tests their kids take and how?    Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Short and simple, House Bill 425 seems straightforward, but it could create complex problems for school districts with its opt-out protections and its push for pencil and paper testing alternatives. (March 5)

Georgia House of Representatives approves charter school recommendations                                                                                  Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Georgia House approved a bill Friday night that implements charter school recommendations from the Governor's Education Reform Commission. (March 4)

Legislature bypasses voters in education Plan B                                            Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

When voters last fall rejected the Opportunity School District Amendment, an obviously frustrated Governor Deal said voters had opted for the status quo. (March 4)

Bill seeks way to address struggling schools after constitutional amendment voted down

Rome News Tribune

After 60 percent of Georgia voters said "no" last November to a statewide constitutional amendment creating a process to take over failing schools, legislators are now working on a plan to take over struggling schools. (March 5)


New bill aims to remediate state’s failing schools
Newnan Times-Herald

Voters rejected the Opportunity School District back in November, but Georgia legislators haven’t given up on remediating the state’s chronically failing schools. (March 3) 

Local advocate concerned with new campus assault bill
Gainesville Times

Local advocates for sexual assault victims are voicing concerns over a Georgia General Assembly bill passing the House that would change disciplinary procedures on college campuses regarding sexual assault. (March 3)

Bill Mandating Lottery Education Funding Level Advances
Georgia Public Broadcasting

Legislation that would mandate what percentage of Georgia Lottery revenue goes to education programs has passed the state Senate. (March 3)

Georgia House OKs increase in private school scholarships cap
Atlanta Business Chronicle

A popular tax credit program funding private school scholarships in Georgia would get more funding under legislation that cleared the state House of Representatives Tuesday. (March 2)

Georgia House approves limits on campus sex assault hearings
Associated Press

Legislation limiting colleges’ disciplinary hearings on sexual violence has passed the Georgia House despite opposition from advocacy groups that work with victims. (March 2) 

New plan for struggling schools clears House of Representatives
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

This legislative effort to intervene in chronically failing schools - Plan B as it is called after the defeat of the OSD last fall - now moves to the Senate for discussion and vote. (March 2)

Deal hails House passage of education legislation
Augusta Chronicle

A bill passed Wednesday by the state House of Representatives designed to create a turnaround plan for Georgia’s lowest performing schools could have a significant impact on the Richmond County school system that has more than 20 fitting the description. (March 2)

Governor applauds House for passing milder version of Opportunity School District
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The House passed House Bill 338 this morning, a milder version of the Opportunity School District in which struggling schools are more akin to partners in state takeover rather than victims of it. (March 1) 

Georgia's 2018 budget emphasizes education
Creative Loafing

In his proposed fiscal year 2018 state budget, Gov. Nathan Deal has his sights set on increasing Georgia’s education standards. (February 28)

School choice presents challenges in rural Georgia
Georgia Public Broadcasting

This year could be a big one for school choice. State lawmakers are considering expanding a program that gives tax credits to Georgians who help bankroll private school scholarships. (February 27)

Editorial: "Campus Carry" again: Will it get by Gov. Deal?
Rome News-Tribune

Here we go again with “campus carry” legislation, an ongoing effort by gun rights advocates to allow anyone with a concealed weapon license to take a handgun to classes and other spots. (February 27)

Bill proposed as answer to failing schools
Forsyth County Schools

A Senate bill sponsored in part by a Forsyth County legislator could help alleviate the problem of failing schools in the state. (February 26)

Opinion:  Lawmakers depict campuses as dangerous places and in need of guns. Crime reports show otherwise.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

I continue to be amazed by the exaggeration of crime on our public colleges and universities by state lawmakers trying once again to overrule common sense  and University System policy by forcing guns on Georgia's campuses. (February 26)

New plan for lowest performing schools advancing through legislature
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) After failing to persuade Georgia voters last year to allow the state to take over low performing schools, lawmakers are proposing what they are calling a "collaborative" alternative to avoid another bruising battle. (February 25) 

Opinion: A kinder, gentler Opportunity School District? Maybe so, but still unnecessary.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) House Bill 338 could be described as a kinder, gentler OSD, where the state does not big-foot its way into seizing control of struggling schools but rather dances a delicate waltz with willing districts. (February 24) 

Opinion:  Failing-schools bill needs to add choices for students
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Lawmakers are taking another crack at improving Georgia’s failing schools, and it seems the new approach is to make it an inside job. (February 23)

Proposal would nearly double tax credits for school scholarships
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Legislation to increase the limit on state tax credits for private school scholarships took a step forward through the General Assembly Wednesday. (February 23)

Georgia House strikes at sanctuary campuses
Z Politics

On Wednesday, The Georgia House of Representatives cast a major vote against "Sanctuary Campuses" - colleges and universities that have promised to ignore federal immigration laws. (February 23)

Education savings accounts carry huge price tag
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Georgia lawmakers are considering a bill to allow parents to take state money to pay for private educational services. Senate Bill 68 proposes an Individual Education Savings Account, or ESA, program. (February 22)

Lawmaker wants to make recess mandatory

A state lawmaker wants to make recess mandatory for students kindergarten through 5th grade. (February 22)

Campus Carry Bill gets rough ride in committee

Opponents of this year’s version of Campus Carry loudly raised their objections at the state Capitol today. It was a lengthy hearing were speakers opposed to the bill outnumbered its backers by almost five to one. (February 21) 

Ga. University System Head Opposes New 'Campus Carry' Bill

The head of Georgia’s university system on Monday spoke publicly for the first time against a bill that would allow guns on college campuses around the state. (February 21) 

Commentary: The ABCs of funding Georgia education
Georgia Trend

Education – including funding and reform – has been a hot political topic as long as there have been teachers and politicians. In Georgia, passage of the Quality Basic Education Act (QBE) in 1985 was one of the first significant reform and funding acts – and its funding formula is still used today – 32 years later. (February 21)

Low performing school bill being reworked
Insider Advantage

(Subscription required.) Only minutes after members of the House Education Committee got their first in-depth look at HB 338, the plan for addressing the lowest performing schools, State School Superintendent Richard Woods presented a substitute bill. (February 20)

After failure of Opportunity School District Amendment, New Bill Addresses Failing Schools
Georgia Public Broadcasting

A new education bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Kevin Tanner would allow the state to provide systems of support and assistance for low-performing schools in Georgia. (February 20)

Opinion: Georgia won't improve its schools until it stops teacher blame game
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Tim Mullen has taught seventh grade life science in Gwinnett County Public Schools for 24 years. In this op-ed column, Mullen discusses House Bill 338, better known as Nathan Deal's Plan B, which comes in the wake of  the Opportunity School District's defeat in November. (February 19)

Does Nathan Deal's plan for struggling schools go too far or not far enough? Should it include school choice?
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Disappointed over the defeat of his Opportunity School District, Gov. Nathan Deal has offered up an alternative state takeover plan that could be imposed through legislation. That legislation is House Bill 338.
(February 18) 

Opinion: Guns on Georgia college campuses endanger lives
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) The General Assembly has revived its campus carry bill, a bill the overwhelming majority of Georgians who attend colleges, teach at them or send their children to them oppose.  (February 17)

Georgia bill would require recess through 5th grade
WMAZ-TV, Macon

Critics say recess has become a thing of the past as schools become more competitive and try to put more time into instruction. If passed, a bill in the Georgia state legislature would require daily recess for all public school students through fifth grade. (February 16) 

'Plan B' for failing schools under consideration
Johns Creek Herald

Gov. Nathan Deal’s anxiously awaited “Plan B” to fix low performing schools was unveiled last week in the Georgia Legislature with a more realistic vision of raising achievement levels for thousands of students. (February 15)

School takeover Plan B debuts
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

The virtues and flaws of … well, pretty much everything, as pretty much everyone knows, are in the details. Georgia voters resoundingly rejected last year’s proposed constitutional amendment allowing for a state takeover of chronically underperforming public schools. (February 15)

Editorial: Add value to working teachers and their students
Savannah Morning News

Georgia lawmakers are wise to be concerned about the big state subsidy that’s required to pump up the state’s pension programs for its retired educators in 2018 – an amount that’s expected to hit a whopping $223 million. (February 15)

Georgia lawmakers reach final deal on money for big pay hike
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(Subscription may be required.) Georgia lawmakers agreed Tuesday to a mid-year spending plan that adds $600 million to this year's budget. (February 15)

Georgia GOP proposing new state role in struggling schools
Associated Press

The state would have broad authority to intervene in struggling schools and make significant changes to staff and management under legislation introduced by Georgia Republicans. (February 15)

Bill in Georgia legislature recasts Deal’s “Opportunity School District” proposal, rejected by voters
Athens Banner-Herald

Gov. Deal is asking Georgia lawmakers to support a new plan for fixing low-performing schools after voters last fall rejected a proposal for state takeovers of schools that consistently struggle. (February 14) 

Day 16!  And it's here... the long awaited Plan B
Georgia School Boards Assn.

Yes, the long-awaited "Plan B" is here and can now be called HB 338 instead.  This is a new approach at turning around failing schools after the Opportunity School District Amendment failed. Related story. Note: Visit the GSBA daily Capitol Watch column by Angela Palm. (February 13)

Overview: 2018 FY Budget for Higher Education
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute

Gov. Nathan Deal’s proposed budget of nearly $2.3 billion for the university system and approximately $360 million for technical colleges includes money to increase salaries, which should help both systems attract and retain faculty. (February 13)

 Belton: Many bills on the General Assembly's agenda
Covington News (February 12)

Georgia Legislature introduces another campus carry bill
Athens Banner-Herald (February 10)

Student:  Georgia lawmakers endanger victims of sexual assault with campus rape bill
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (February 9)

Filling the Gaping Hole in Public School Budgets
Georgia Budget and Policy Institute (February 8)

'Campus Carry' has been reintroduced in the Georgia legislature
ZPolitics (February 8)

Losing isn't permanent, quitting not an option
GeorgiaPol.com (February 7)

State Rep. Taylor introduces schools resolution
Sandy Spring Reporter (February 6)

Georgia Republicans take aim at "sanctuary campuses" while Emory U ducks fight
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (February 3)

Georgia lawmakers propose almost tripling private school scholarships
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (February 2)

Opinion:  Plans for public education - vague and discouraging
Dawson News (February 1)

Lawmakers seek industry-credentialing public schools
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (January 25)

Georgia senate bill aimed at maximizing lottery funds to HOPE
Atlanta Business Chronicle (January 23)

Georgia Sen. Fran Millar: Needs based scholarship in the works
WABE-Radio (January 19)

Opinion: Georgia lawmakers should act on tax, health and education reforms
Savannah Morning News (January 19)

Pre-K investment would aid in fix of failing schools
Golden Isles News (January 18)

Governor highlights raises, schools as budget hearings near
WGCL-TV (January 18)

DeKalb superintendent advises governor:  We're talking about choice when we should be talking about change
Atlanta Journal-Constitution - subscription may be required (January 16)

Deal outlines education plans for FY 2018
Insider Advantage -subscription required (January 16)

Deal focuses on right priorities
Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (January 13)

Georgia's teachers are skeptical of proposed 2% pay raise. Here's why.
Atlanta Journal-Constitution (subscription may be required) (January 13)

Georgia governor to focus on what voters wouldn't - failing schools  Governing (January 12)

Deal keeping focus on failing schools after defeat at ballot
Associated Press (January 11)

State leaders focus on fix for struggling schools - Gainesville Times (January 8)

How will they spend your $23 billion? Legislators start new session Monday - Gainesville Times (January 8)

Editorial: Schools are key Capitol project for state lawmakers - Gainesville Times (January 8)