Published Online: July 14, 1999
Published in Print: July 14, 1999, as State Journal


State Journal

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Testing fate

Gov. Gray Davis of California has put his political fate in the hands of his state's roughly 6 million public school students.

In a speech at the American Legion state convention in San Diego last month, the governor vowed not to seek re-election in 2002 if student reading levels and test scores didn't improve during his term.

"If there is not guaranteed success by the time I run for re-election, if there are not results, I will not return and ask for your vote," he was quoted as saying in newspaper reports.

Education has been the top priority for Mr. Davis since being elected last November as the state's first Democratic governor in 16 years. And, if all goes well for Mr. Davis, he should be able to run for re-election.

The state budget he signed last month adds new revenue for teacher reading academies and cash awards for improving schools. He has also signed legislation that mandates a high school exit exam in 2004.

And, a bill that has not made it to him would exempt students with limited English ability from taking the exam, which in turn would likely lead to a rise in test scores.

Payback time

Beginning this month, Georgia teachers who fail to pay back their state-guaranteed student loans will risk losing their teaching certificates. That threat comes from a new policy of the Georgia Student Finance Commission and the state's Professional Standards Commission.

The policy applies to 90,000 teachers working in Georgia's public schools. It is similar to a new mandate that covers the 350,000 Georgians who hold occupational or professional licenses.

Teachers who are 60 days or more behind in repaying their state loans will receive certified letters from the Georgia Higher Education Assistance Corp., which guarantees the loans. They will have 30 days to begin repayment. If they don't, the Professional Standards Commission can suspend their teaching certificates indefinitely. The commission sets professional standards for educators.

Bob Cribbs, the government-relations director for the Georgia Association of Educators, a National Education Association affiliate, said his group supports the policy as long as the commission does all it can to get teachers to repay their loans before suspending their licenses.

--Robert C. Johnston & Linda Jacobson

Vol. 18, Issue 42, Page 17

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