As our students and teachers return to school, we need to take a renewed look at where we are in education as a community, a state, and a nation. Locally, Catoosa County has handled the recession admirably, but instructional days have been reduced when international competitors have increased theirs. Also, our teachers continue to lose income through furlough days and reduced benefits. Georgia has decimated public education funding over the last 10 years, some due to recession and some to priority choices. Nationally, school systems are mired in a “No Child Left Behind” system that depends too much on standardized tests and too little on common sense. Characteristically, Congress is frozen on this issue, as on others.
It is time to examine these challenges and ask some tough questions. First, if the state won’t fund adequate programs, is having the lowest property tax around the best choice for our students in the long term? Next, will the state live up to its constitutional obligation to fund public schools without a dramatic lawsuit? Finally, will we as a nation realize the fundamental need for strong public education and commit financially and culturally to that goal? Our children are waiting for answers.
Pastor Bruce Sloan, Catoosa County Democratic Party chairman