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Lawmakers want school to test fitness

The people's business

POSTED: March 30, 2009 9:48 a.m.
Here in Georgia, we’re making tremendous strides to improve education, provide better access to scholarship opportunities, and the hiring and retention of quality teachers. The Senate has also been focused on ensuring that no other school board loses accreditation.
The General Assembly is considering dozens of bills aimed at improving education in the State. Some of our efforts are highlighted below.
Gov. Sonny Perdue has put forth the School Board Governance Bill (SB 84) based largely on the recommendations of the Commission for School Board Excellence. To raise the bar for local school boards, some key parts of the legislation include the following requirements:
• Developing an ethics policy and training program for all local school board members;
• Creating a standardized conflict of interest policy for all school boards;
• Setting forth minimum qualifications for candidates; and
• Allowing the state the ability to act proactively when a system is in danger of losing accreditation.
Providing our children tools to have greater access to honors programs, maintain a healthy lifestyle, and get them ready for the work force is vital to their success in higher education, especially as tuition costs continue to rise. This week, the Honors Program for Home School Students (SB 210) passed and it is now on its way to the governor’s desk. The measure allows home school students to be eligible for the Governor’s Honors Program, which is now only open to public and private high school students. All Georgia students deserve recognition for their academic achievements. Talented home-school students will now be eligible for this honor, providing them greater opportunities to scholarships and easier acceptance to colleges.
A measure to offer increased compensation as an incentive for math and science teachers is currently under consideration. This bill seeks to aid with recruitment and retention due to the shortage of teachers in these important areas. Provisions are included to tie student achievement with salary enhancements to ensure that the pay is based on merit.
The Move on When Ready Act (HB 149) passed through the Senate this week. This program will allow 11th and 12th graders the option of attending an eligible college or technical school to complete graduation requirements while receiving college credit. The program is a positive alternative for “at-risk” or accelerated students who may be underserved by a traditional high school setting and benefit from the flexibility afforded by this program. Currently in Georgia, 45 high schools offer one or no AP classes. This program affords parents and students more choice in education rather than sticking with a one-size-fits-all approach.
Also under consideration in the Senate, is House Bill 278, to waive certain expenditure controls under the Quality Basic Education Act. Under the measure, local school systems are allowed to waive expenditure control requirements relating to direct institutional costs, media centers and staff and professional development, without penalty from the system. Additionally, the bill provides that any QBE funds for dual enrolled students in charter schools will remain at the school.
Senate Resolution 595 passed out of committee this week and creates a Senate study committee on Regional Educational Service Agencies. Additionally, Senate Resolution 649 urging educational agencies, associations, boards and commissions to make their first priority the education and well being of the students of a school system passed committee as well.
Physical education in schools has declined over the years and many parents fear the effects of child obesity. The General Assembly has passed the Annual Fitness Assessment in Schools Bill (HB 229) in efforts to combat child obesity by encouraging schools to reinstate a better physical education program. It will require schools to conduct annual fitness tests on students in first through 12th grades during a physical education course taught by a certified physical education teacher.
And in closing, I was pleased to learn that last month the Georgia Board of Education approved the charter for the Southeastern Early College and Career Academy. This is a significant step toward innovation in our school system. Toombs, Treutlen and Montgomery counties and the city of Vidalia are all to be commended for this important distinction.

Williams serves as president pro tempore of the Senate. He represents the 19th Senate District, which includes Appling, Jeff Davis, Long, Montgomery, Toombs, Wayne, and Wheeler counties and a portion of Liberty and Tattnall counties. He can be reached at (404) 656-0089 or by e-mail at tommie.williams@Senate.ga.gov.
 

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