Georgia's Attorney General Thurbert Baker applauded local educators at a banquet for retiring teachers Monday night, but said he believes education can still be improved within the state.
As the guest speaker at the Decatur County Retiring Educators banquet held at Bainbridge High School Monday, Baker outlined which areas of focus still need work and called on teachers to show strong commitment to their mission of serving children. He said he hoped teachers' service acts as an encouragement to others.
Baker has announced plans to run for governor in 2010, after serving nine years in the General Assembly and so far, three terms as the state's leading law enforcer.
Baker, who said his wife and one of his daughters are teachers, said he believes "full funding" should be allocated for education in Georgia and called financial support for schools an "investment" in the state's future.
"If we're going to make sure education is fully funded, we also need to give teachers an opportunity to teach," Baker said.
Baker said the state government should provide incentives to attract the best teachers to Georgia schools and keep them there.
Other education topics Baker touched on included safe transportation of students and safe schools.
"If we're going to tackle these issues, it will take leadership and without doubt, a commitment to do the right thing," Baker said.
In the state assembly, Baker was one of the lawmakers key to passing the legislation that created the HOPE college scholarship—funded by a state lottery system. He said he likes to tell young people they don't need a backup plan, or "plan B," but rather a "plan E," for an education, which he said allows people to handle a variety of tasks.
"Education provides a window of opportunity," Baker said. "This world is all about opening up opportunities so we can thrive. Education made my life possible."
Baker has finally come to rural Georgia.