Day 25 saw the Senate voucher bill passed out of the Education and Youth Committee (6-5) with GSSA not able to testify.  GSSA signed up to speak but along with a few other education organizations but was not permitted to provide testimony.  I believe GSBA, GAEL, and PAGE were also not called upon to offer testimony.  Other bills of the day related to education that moved are:

SB 169 – Rep. Chuck Payne (R)- Student tribunal changes – Increasing the days for a tribunal in certain circumstances to 15 based on the request by a parent and could exceed 15 days based on a parent request. Otherwise the 10 day rule remains. The other goal in the bill is to require school districts to provide classwork for in-school suspension, short-term out of school suspension, and long-term out of school suspension.   Obviously, this is the main goal of this legislation. Passed the Senate Ed Committee.

SB 233– Sen. Greg Dolezal (R)- Georgia Promise Scholarship Act – This is the $6,000 per student per school year of state public money to be issued to the parent who resides in Georgia. Unfortunately, even though several education organizations signed up (referenced above) to speak on the legislation somehow the organizations were ignored during the hearing and ultimately the passage of the bill 6-5.

In House Education Sub committee the following bills were heard and passed:

HB 537– Literacy Bill – Rep. Becky Evans (D) – Addresses literacy training. DECAL, PreK, and K-12. It is being framed as a sister bill to HB 538. Passed out of sub committee moves to full House committee.

HB 538 – Rep. Bethany Ballard (R) – Literacy Bill – This bill has had many changes  due to many voices weighing in on various parts of the bill. The bil is improved but on line 192 remains the most perscriptive language requiring an IEP “like” teacher developed individual literacy plan for the identified deficient readers K-3.  We will continue to partner with our like -minded association to continue to work on improving the language in the bill.  We appreciate the author Rep. Ballard, Chairman Erwin, and Floor Leader Will Wade for their willingness to work with our associations to offer suggestions all in an effort to focus on the evidence based reading approach for the benefit of Georgia’s children. Passed out of sub committee moves to full House Ed committee.

HB 506 – Rep. Ginny Erhart – Accreditation changes. Primary reason for this bill is to address the lack of oversight over accrediting agencies. (Cognia mentioned in discussions although not in the bill) Passed out of sub committee and now moves to full education House committee.

Tomorrow HB 318 – Re- establishment of the Office of Charter School Compliance out of GADOE moves to State Charter Schools Commission is on the floor of the HOUSE for a vote.  GSSA is concerned about this change of oversight of the charter school process. There has been some language improvements to this bill.

The pace at the Capitol has picked up and the mischief always increases as we move to crossover.  Thank you to those who have communicated to their Senators prior to the passing of SB 233.  We will continue to battle on this front with your help we will make a difference.  Crossover day is Monday, March 6 which is a key day for legislation to be passed in one of the chambers so it has a chance to make it to Sine Die!  Have a good night!

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