May 12, 2017 Radio Commentary

New Laws for Education

Radio Commentary, 90.7, 91.7 New Life FM, May 12, 2017 – By Sue Ella Deadwyler

Since 11:59 p.m. last Tuesday was the end of Governor Deal’s 40-day period to sign or veto bills, today’s subject is two education bills he decided to sign.  One became law the day he signed it; the other becomes law July 1st.

Of eight education bills he signed April 27th, only S.B. 211 concerning federal assessments of student progress became law that day.  A mention of “grouping” in S.B. 211 reminded me that, until recent years, students were always grouped according to learning ability, but not so, now.  Though grouping is mentioned in this bill, it’s unclear whether grouping is for testing only or for everyday classwork.

Also, it’s important to note that writing performance will continue to be assessed within reading, math, science, or social studies assessments, but there’s no mention of cursive writing, which seems to be more or less abandoned in today’s education.  What a loss!

S.B. 211 gives the State Board of Education until July 1st to include in workgroups a component about maximum flexibility for local assessments under federal law.  It, also, protects the right of students who take dual credit courses to be school valedictorian or salutatorian, which could affect this year’s graduating students, since it became law on April 27th.

Several weeks will pass before H.B. 37 becomes law on July 1st and prohibits sanctuary policies on private college and university campuses.  The bill says violators will lose funding, but time will tell whether that happens.   H.B. 37’s delayed date-of-effect reminds me of the time Moses asked Pharaoh when he wanted God to remove judgment and, surprisingly, Pharaoh said tomorrow, leaving Egypt under that particular judgment for another 24 hours or so.  Maybe wise administrators will use the weeks before H.B. 37 becomes law to redirect their illegal students.You might ask, “Why is this law necessary in Georgia?”  Emory University’s online web site provides the answer with this:  “Undocumented students are students who are not U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or ‘eligible noncitizens,’ including DACA [deferred status] students. Emory meets 100% of demonstrated financial need for undergraduate undocumented students (with or without DACA) who are admitted as first-year, first-degree-seeking students, and who graduated from a U.S. high school through a combination of grants and scholarships, institutional work study (DACA students only), and institutional loans. Undocumented students without DACA status may receive an institutional loan in place of the typical work study award.”

Another question comes to mind: “Will H.B. 37 be enforced after it becomes law July 1st?” We’ll just have to wait and see.  For Georgia Insight I’m Sue Ella Deadwyler, your Capitol correspondent.