JEKYLL ISLAND -- Gov. Roy Barnes yesterday called on Georgia school administrators to rally behind education reform for the sake of the state's students.
Barnes noted that Georgia ranks ninth nationally for education funding per capita but 50th nationwide in student assessment test scores. That proves Georgia needs to change the way it teaches its children, he said.
"Leadership on the school level is the key to making education work and that's how you all can help," Barnes said.
Barnes was the keynote speaker yesterday at the 26th annual Georgia Association of Educational Leaders summer conference. State schools Superintendent Linda Schrenko is scheduled to address the educators at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow.
The governor emphasized the need for innovative educational programs, strong administrative leadership and good teachers if Georgia's children are to excel both in the classroom and in life.
"All of us have the common goal to improve education . . . We have to do a better job of educating our native sons and daughters or we will all pay a price later on," Barnes said.
About 1,000 public school superintendents, principals, curriculum specialists and other administrators have gathered for the 3 1/2-day conference that began Sunday night.
The focus of the conference is the implementation and ramifications of state-mandated education reform.
"We need to value quality instruction over everything else. Teachers are the most important factor on how a child learns," Barnes said.
The governor said financial bonuses should be given to teachers whose students show marked academic improvement.
The teacher certification process also should be examined to ensure that it does not discourage or hinder qualified people from entering the profession, Barnes said.
Leadership and management skills need to be developed and honed in school administrators -- particularly principals, Barnes said.
"To assure quality instruction, we must value leadership at the school level. When schools have good leadership, students receive a better education," Barnes said. "I want the reform commission to study what makes a good principal effective and replicate it across Georgia."
Barnes said he wants to implement a statewide institute to train principals. The intensive leadership and management training course would be taught by education experts from across the state and nationwide, and could be conducted over the summer, he said.
Top principals also would go out to the schools, Barnes said. …