Jason Spencer, Georgia State Representative

Education


“I will continue to stand up for our rural school districts in southeast Georgia.”

Public education is a constitutionally mandated service that must be provided to the children of Georgia. I am a firm believer that strong parental involvement is the key to any successful public or private education system. Many attempts to restructure public education in this state with more layers of bureaucracy is not the answer to a quality education. I generally oppose many mandates from federal and state government on to our already bureaucratized public education system. No new layers of bureaucracy can take the place of an involved and caring parent. Our state’s public education system should continue to resist using more federal dollars (like Race To the Top) and resist adopting a national “one size fits all” standard (like Common Core) in our local school districts that are unproven. Georgia loses more sovereignty over education when we accept federal money with “strings attached”.

Furthermore, tax payers in local school districts must hold the elected board of education officials accountable for poor governance of tax-payer supported schools. School districts in southeast Georgia should not have suffer financially at the expense of dysfunctional school districts in the Atlanta-Metro area. I will continue to stand up for our rural school districts in southeast Georgia.

My Stance On Common Core Standards:

At this point in the implementation of Common Core Standards, it appears that there has not been enough innings played in the ball game to get a true picture of how the standards will improve student performance. There appears to be as much factual information in support of the standards as there is information that speaks against the standards. It appears that there is a lot of conflicting information surrounding the standards. Due to the lack of empirical evidence on the Common Core, it is tough to come up with a solid and definite answer if the standards should garner my support; for or against. Due to the lack of student achievement evidence in connection with the Common Core standards, I will refrain from supporting them at this time until more evidence becomes available to make a sound policy judgement.

Internationally bench marking standards is important when we expect to educate and retain the best and brightest of American students in science and math so we can complete economically. Internationally bench marking standards has been around for some time, but when new standards are being considered for implementation, it is imperative they undergo the endorsed American National Standards Institute (ANSI) process. Furthermore, when designing new framework testing models we should look to those models that have a good track record for evaluating student performance and not those that have flawed methods of design. In the United States, we have public school systems that compete well against other countries. The state of Massachusetts consistently is in the top ten of the TIMMS reports when their performance is compared to other countries like Singapore and China.

A recent study by the Brookings Institute (A progress report on Common Core Mar.18, 2014) has analyzed that states that have implemented and evaluated the Common Core Standards. The study reports that those states are finding minimal gains in student achievement mainly due to implementation procedures and show insignificant gains in NEAP testing results. The study found that states who implemented the Common Core Standards successfully saw increases in NEAP scores than those with poor implementation; however, those gains were statistically insignificant to predict success in college. The study aligns to my position that the Common Core Standards need further study. One area that really needs more study is the efficacy these standards will have on students with disabilities. It is unknown how these students will be affected; therefore, it is critical that we obtain good data to make professional judgments on adequate and equitable education for all American students.