• IDRA Newsletter • January 2024 •

The Georgia General Assembly opened its 2024 session this month and will operate until the end of March. IDRA has outlined the following policy priorities and recommendations.

Ensure Fair School Funding for All Students

All students deserve to attend free, high-quality, fully funded schools. However, since Georgia passed the Quality Basic Education Act in 1985, the public education system has been consistently underfunded by more than $10 billion.

The state’s recurring lack of investment, coupled with the systematic diversion of taxpayer funds toward private education, has undermined Georgia’s public schools and their ability to support the needs of our most vulnerable students, particularly those students living in poverty and in rural communities. To ensure full and fair funding for Georgia’s public schools, IDRA urges the Georgia General Assembly to:

  • Fully fund the Quality Basic Education formula. The Georgia General Assembly should support local schools by meeting the minimum funding threshold set by the QBE formula, while acknowledging that this formula is outdated and insufficient for meeting the current needs of students. A modern cost study is needed to ensure that every Georgia student has access to an excellent education.
  • Add formula funding for educating students living in poverty. The Georgia General Assembly should expand the Quality Basic Education formula to allocate dedicated funds to help local schools address the unique needs of educating students from families with limited resources.
  • Oppose all efforts to divert public funding to private education institutions. The Georgia General Assembly should reject any proposals that seek to redirect public education funds to private institutions in the form of voucher programs, including educational savings accounts, tax credits or private school scholarships.

End Harmful Discipline in Schools

Georgia’s students should have access to safe and supportive learning environments where teachers and school administrators do not rely on harmful exclusionary discipline and policing strategies. Instead, we must invest in research-based strategies that support positive school climates and student success.

The legislature can make sure students have access to safe and welcoming schools. IDRA urges the Georgia General Assembly to:

  • Secure a discipline study committee. The Georgia education committee should commission a study committee dedicated to reviewing and evaluating existing discipline practices within Georgia’s public schools. The committee’s findings can inform future policies aimed at promoting a safer and more effective learning environment.
  • Expand Multi-Tiered Systems of Support availability to all students. The Georgia General Assembly should expand Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) to all public PreK-12 students and reduce the maximum threshold to trigger its implementation from five suspension days to zero. Currently these practices, which are designed to address the diverse academic and behavioral needs of students, are only required for PreK through third grade students.
  • Prohibit corporal punishment. The Georgia General Assembly must ban the use of corporal punishment in schools and emphasize a commitment to non-violent and effective disciplinary methods.

Promote Culturally-Sustaining School Climates that Support All Students

All students deserve to learn in culturally-sustaining school environments that affirm their racial, ethnic, gender and other identities. Culturally-sustaining schools create positive, safe and supportive school climates for all students to receive high-quality educational opportunities to succeed. Recent classroom censorship policies have made schools less safe or supportive for students, especially for students who are Black, Latino and identify as LGBTQ+, and are significantly more likely to experience identity-based discrimination.

The legislature can make sure students attend culturally-sustaining and supportive schools. IDRA urges the Georgia General Assembly to:

  • Expand required topics in the Founding U.S. Philosophy & Principles course. The Georgia General Assembly should broaden the scope of the Founding U.S. Philosophy and Principles course to ensure that students receive a well-rounded education that incorporates a more comprehensive range of topics and perspectives including the contributions of African Americans, Asian Americans, Native Americans and Latino Americans throughout U.S. History.

For more information, contact Mikayla Arciaga, M.A.Ed., IDRA Georgia Advocacy Director (mikayla.arciaga@idra.org) or Terrence Wilson, J.D., IDRA Regional Policy and Community Engagement Director (terrence.wilson@idra.org).

[©2024, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the January 2024 edition of the IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]