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Day 10: Joint Education & Retirement Committees Meet

Literacy in the Spotlight at Joint Senate Education Meeting

State School Superintendent Richard Woods described several literacy-focused initiatives the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) is undertaking at the Tuesday, Jan. 31, joint meeting of the Senate Education & Youth Committee and Senate Higher Education Committee.

Woods outlined the department’s ongoing efforts to revise Georgia’s English Language Arts Standards, address student learning loss, provide science-based literacy instruction, identify and address dyslexia, and support students in rural Georgia with L4GA grants.

Matt Jones, GaDOE chief of staff, walked committee members through Georgia’s standardized test scores, including pre- and post-pandemic student performance.

Woods recommended steps to address ongoing challenges in Georgia’s educational system, including:

  • Expanded access to high-quality Georgia Pre-K programs

  • Emphasizing the importance of kindergarten (Georgia children are not required to enroll in public school until age 6)

  • Increased state funding for paraprofessionals in grades 1 & 2 (currently the state only provides them for kindergarten)

  • Supporting teachers to ensure all teacher preparation programs have a strong literacy focus

  • Providing dedicated funding to support literacy efforts

Committee discussion was wide-ranging and is expected to resume Wednesday, Feb. 1, when the joint committee meets again.

Dana Rickman, from the Georgia Partnership for Excellence in Education presented the organization’s Top Ten Issues to Watch 2023. The report outlines key issues along the state’s education pipeline as well as strategies state and local leaders can take to address them.

Retirement Committees Learn about TRS & ERS

New and returning members of the House and Senate Retirement committees received an overview of the Teachers Retirement System (TRS) from Dr. Buster Evans, executive director of TRS. Evans reported that TRS has a funding ratio of 81.3 percent, placing it in the top third of similar retirement plans across the country. He also described steps the system has taken to enhance the long-term financial strength of the plan, helping it weather recent volatility in the stock market. Responding to a question from Rep. Debbie Buckner, Evans noted that including the limited classified staff categories not eligible for TRS in the system would generate additional cost to the system. Before doing so, policymakers should review the immediate and long-term impacts, he said.

Jim Potvin, executive director of the Employees Retirement System (ERS), gave committee members an overview of the ERS system, which includes the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). He described the stability of the system and noted several recent steps lawmakers have taken to boost ERS.

Register now for PAGE Day on Capitol Hill

PAGE Day on Capitol Hill, in conjunction with the Georgia Association of Educational Leaders (GAEL), and the Georgia Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (GACTE), is coming up soon. Please register now to join us Tuesday, Feb. 21, for this free event. You will learn more about pending education legislation and advocate for educators, students, and public education.

Upcoming Schedule

Wednesday, Feb. 1 – Legislative Day 11

  • House Appropriations Meeting – 7 a.m., 341 CAP

  • Joint Senate Education & Youth and Higher Education Meeting – 2 p.m., 307 CLOB

Thursday, Feb. 2 – Legislative Day 12

  • House Education Meeting – 1 p.m., 506 CLOB


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