‘Georgia schools on an impressive run...’
To the Editor:
“Our schools aren’t as good as they used to be, and they never were,” joked Will Rogers. I wonder if he was talking about Georgia.
Most folks don’t know it, but Georgia schools are on a really impressive run. Believe it or not, Georgia is now number one in the nation in educational technology according to Education Week. "Technology is a key component to improving education and preparing our students to be successful," said State Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox. The report highlighted Georgia’s “Virtual School” which allows computer learning of over 120 online courses to include foreign languages and Advanced Placement and credit recovery.
Morgan County is way ahead of this curve, placing “SMARTBoards” in every class two years ago. They’ve been a huge success, creating interactive classrooms where kindergarteners electronically correct sentences and high school kids dissect virtual frogs. The new software even helps teachers create and share each other’s lesson plans.
Another news item you might have missed is that Georgia is now 15th in the nation in Advanced Placement (AP) scores, and we’re ninth in the nation of seniors who passed at least one AP exam. Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate programs allow high school students to take and pass college courses.
A whopping 42 percent more Georgia seniors took the AP exam in 2008 than in 2003, and 38 percent more passed.
Even more impressive was that 22 percent of these Georgians were African-American, and their pass rate was third best in the nation - triple their national average, and double what they were five years ago. And did you know that 10 percent of all African-Americans SAT test-takers are from Georgia? We have the highest percentage of any state of African-American test-takers (28 percent), and we scored well above their national average.
Georgia graduation rates? They’re higher they’ve ever been. In 2008 Georgia graduated 75 percent of her seniors, 14 points better than in 2004 and well above the 2007 national average of 70 percent. (2008 national graduation rates are not in yet; don’t ask me why.)
The MCHS graduation rate was even higher at 83 percent.
In the “Roaring '20s” the national graduation rate was a mere 20 percent. In the 1950s it was 50 percent. Georgia is graduating more - not less - seniors than ever before.
Finally, the new Georgia Performance Standards (GPS) curriculum is ranked fourth best in the nation, and our SAT participation rate of 70 percent is 13th best in the nation. Compare that to the paltry 9.8 percent of 30 states, and you’ll see that more Georgians have higher college aspirations than most of the nation.
How did Morgan County do? Thanks to our AP and IB curriculum, we slaughtered both the state and the national average. Even more incredible is the fact that 20 percent of our sophomores - even freshman - are taking AP classes, and that 20 percent of them are getting college credit for these classes.
Parents – please – encourage your kids to take these AP and IB courses, especially if they plan on going to college.
The opportunities MCHS offers are incredible. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – if your college-bound teens are not taking advantage of these AP and IB programs, they’re truly missing the boat.
So why do so many Georgians think we have crummy schools? Because talk show hosts have bigger microphones than folks like Dave Belton - or Kathy Cox, for that matter. Talk to just about anybody in any Southern state, and they’ll give you a much more favorable opinion of Georgia schools than Georgians will.
Time to sit on our academic laurels? Of course not. It’s time to improve our already excellent public schools.
PRINTED IN THE APRIL 9, 2009 EDITION