Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Education Groups Square off on Commission's Proposed Changes; Most Agree on Funding Increases but Not on the Teacher Pay Revisions

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Education Groups Square off on Commission's Proposed Changes; Most Agree on Funding Increases but Not on the Teacher Pay Revisions

Article excerpt

Byline: Walter C. Jones

ATLANTA | A day after the Education Reform Commission voted on recommendations for revising how public schools are funded and teachers are paid, supporters and opponents began lining up Friday.

Gov. Nathan Deal appointed the commission of administrators, legislators and local officials to update the 35-year-old formula in state law that determines how much money each of the 180 local districts receive from state taxpayers. While they were are it, he also asked them for suggestions on improving education, such as streamlining student advancement.

The commission's final meeting Thursday featured the votes. A report will be compiled next month and submitted to the governor. Then Deal will pass along what he likes to the legislators in January for their approval.

Advocacy groups that have monitored the deliberations over the 10 months the commission has been active lost no time commenting on the things they like and don't like, setting the stage for their legislative lobbying campaigns.

"As a whole, these recommendations build on the latest, most reliable educational research to put the focus of the educational system on the needs of the individual student, not on programs or schools," said Ryan Mahoney, a regional advocacy director for ExcelinEd. "These reforms will give parents more options, educators more flexibility and students more opportunity to achieve their God-given potential."

ExcelinEd, or the Foundation for Excellence in Education, is based in Tallahassee and is funded by groups from across the political spectrum, including Jeb Bush and Bill Gates.

Also supportive is the Georgia chapter of StudentsFirst, a generally conservative, California-based advocacy group. State Director Michael O'Sullivan applauded the shift to funding centered on student needs and flexibility.

Additionally, he likes the new safeguards. …

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