Friday, January 22, 2010

Educators plan rally against cuts

Educators and others concerned about public education in Georgia are bound for Atlanta on Saturday to rally against funding cuts at the state Capitol.

Jim Barrett, president of the Walker Association of Educators and an eighth-grade teacher at LaFayette Middle School, said he will join other education supporters to make sure lawmakers know they want education cuts to stop.

"We're going to have teachers from all over the state rallying at the capital, and we're going to be talking about some alternative ways to address budget shortfalls: systemically, not just short term, but long term," Mr. Barrett said.

One remedy the Georgia Association of Educators is weighing is revising corporate taxes in Georgia, he said.

Rep. Tom Dickson, R-Cohutta, said the economy is forcing lawmakers' hands.

He said he likes to hear educators' ideas, "but invariably, when somebody comes up with another idea, it involves somebody else giving up some money," he said. The object of that idea should be involved in discussions, too, he said.

GAE President Jeff Hubbard stated in a news release that lawmakers "must realize the magnitude of the effect further paring of the education budget will have."

Mr. Hubbard said the rally is an effort to stop cuts that affect the future of education in Georgia.

"Decade after decade our schools have been shortchanged for one reason after another to the detriment of our schools and children," he said.

He said between 1983 and 2002, Quality Basic Education Act funding was shortchanged by $800 million. Proposed cuts this year could bring the total shortfall between 2002 and 2010 to more than $2 billion, Mr. Hubbard said.

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