Op-Ed by Superintendent Woods: Amendment 1 Vote
Op-Ed by Superintendent Richard Woods
Though Amendment 1 spurred a contentious campaign, the points raised by both sides renewed our commitment to focus on chronically struggling schools and we, as Georgians, cannot allow this focus to wane in the aftermath of the election.
Supporting Schools is a Shared Responsibility
The introduction of the Opportunity School District concept in the legislature during my first days in office highlighted the need for the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) to broaden our approach to supporting schools. In the past, struggling schools were primarily served by the School Improvement division. I gave the direction that supporting these schools needed to be a shared responsibility across the GaDOE, with a common goal to decrease the number of schools on the Opportunity-eligible list. We’ve made progress and have been able to work with districts to decrease the number of Opportunity-eligible schools by eight percent.
Since the onset of this campaign, my commitment has been focused on our responsibility of ensuring that schools are not on the list in the first place.
Unique Challenges Require a Unique Approach
As State School Superintendent, I have traveled to schools across Georgia, including some that were on the Opportunity-eligible list. Many factors contribute to the poor performance of these schools – fractured communities, unclear expectations, lack of consistent leadership, inconsistent support, and students who have needs that go beyond pure academics. What I have witnessed is that each of these schools face unique challenges, and to truly address struggling schools, we cannot apply a one-size-fits-all approach. We must look at each school and individualize support to best meet its needs. For that reason, our staff will partner with each of these schools so they have a personal contact to help provide whatever support they may need.
It’s Time to Focus on Solutions
To truly customize and target our support for these schools, we must engage stakeholders. In that spirit, I will be inviting stakeholders from all invested groups – members of the education, business, and faith communities, as well as families – to participate in a “Solutions Summit” to have candid conversations about these schools and develop a framework where all parties, including the GaDOE, have skin in the game. It’s time that we stop talking only about the problems that persist in these schools and start developing actionable solutions.
Engaged Leadership, Engaged Communities
Engaged leadership is essential, both in our struggling schools and districts as well as at the GaDOE. Several of the state’s struggling schools are located in struggling communities. To break this cycle, we must engage both schools and communities in a meaningful way. We will be organizing and holding a series of Community Conversations across the state where these schools are located. This will be an opportunity to invite the community in, share our resources and our data, and have conversations to chart root causes and create solutions to address school performance – all with the common goal of supporting our kids.
As State School Superintendent, I am charged with overseeing a K-12 system that educates over 1.7 million students in our public schools, and nearly 65,000 of those students are attending chronically struggling schools. There is a lot of great work happening in a majority of Georgia’s schools, but we must come together as communities to work on behalf of those students whose schools are not best serving their needs. Bold action and long-term commitment are needed to bring about success. I look forward to working with all Georgians to ensure our students are given the greatest chance for a bright future.
Help Kids Get Their BookFlix Fix
Scholastic has extended free access to BookFlix
for every child in Georgia through Tuesday, Feb. 28. This digital literacy resource pairs animated storybooks with related nonﬁction titles to reinforce early reading skills and develop essential real-world knowledge.
The vibrant animation, rich audio, and interactive games make BookFlix a perfect tool to engage and support beginning readers from Pre-K to third grade. BookFlix helps students:
- read and comprehend literature and information text,
- respond to texts that are read aloud, and
- acquire grade-appropriate vocabulary.
User ID: gadoe
Georgia Virtual Learning eSource Content
The eSource Content from Georgia Virtual Learning includes complete courses that are aligned to the Georgia's Standards. These courses are divided into modules which are created using Softchalk Lesson Building software. These packages can be downloaded and used in your Learning Management System or can be loaded onto a server and linked to directly.
The access to eSource content is available to Georgia public schools by application only.
Collective Impact for Computer Science Education
The Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) is pleased to invite you to a short digital course about the Collective Impact framework for computer science and other STEM education access initiatives.
This is not about how to teach or do CS; rather, it’s about how to develop a collective impact strategy to mobilize educators, businesses, parents, philanthropists, and community organizations to contribute to this important goal of expanding access to computer science in K-12. The course will include interactions with national and international experts on Collective Impact.
The conference and course are sponsored by the National Science Foundation and made possible through a partnership with the Georgia Department of Education.
January 15, 2017 is the deadline for applications!
GaDOE Media Mailing List