More Student Supports, Strengthening Teacher Pipeline among Priorities Set by State’s School Chief

Cindy Morley

Friday, November 12th, 2021

To read all of InsiderAdvantage Georgia’s daily news, SUBSCRIBE HERE. *Subscription includes a complimentary subscription to JAMES Magazine.

Expanding opportunities for students and strengthening the teacher pipeline are among the 2022 legislative priorities that will guide State School Superintendent Richard Woods and the State Education Department in the upcoming year. The department will also focus on working with the Georgia legislature to fully fund public education when the 2022 legislative session gets underway in January.

“Our legislative priorities are aligned with the greater vision of creating a public education system that is student-focused and classroom-centered,” said Woods. “

Woods said he is committed to working toward a pay raise for teachers and removing the threat of certification loss as a punishment for new teachers identified as “Needs Development” through the teacher evaluation system. The school chief also said that to help build a teacher pipeline in the state, he will encourage lawmakers to consider changes that would allow districts to utilize retired educators full time in high-need teaching positions. He also plans to work toward the creation of a new evaluation system for educators.

Woods lists providing access to a 21st-century classroom as one of the top priorities for the upcoming session, pointing to the need for increased broadband across all areas of the state.

“We must recognize the need for affordable and quality high-speed internet access as a basic utility for all of Georgia’s families,” said Woods.

He also plans a push toward strengthening Civics Education and students’ understanding of American government and the nation’s history. The state superintendent also wants to work with lawmakers to eliminate austerity cuts for a number of programs including Career Tech and youth camps.

Among the top priorities is the increase of supports and resources for students with disabilities, including updates to the state funding formula to allow for adequate resources for students in Residential Treatment Facilities.

Strengthening partnerships between schools and communities is another focus this year, according to Woods. “Schools belong to the community and the students, parents, educators, and citizens who live therein. We champion efforts for strong parent and community collaboration and engagement in school decisions.”

The state department will also push for full funding of public education. This includes a push for the elimination of austerity cuts for districts and schools, as well as additional funding for transportation costs for school districts and student support staff at the local level. The superintendent and his staff are also committed to supporting efforts to increase facilities funding for local charter schools.