• Gov. Sonny Perdue
Gov. Sonny Perdue called education Georgia’s “top priority” in his Jan. 11 State of the State Address.
Mr. Perdue, a Republican who is in his fourth year as governor, began his list of K-12 proposals by calling on the legislature to set a standard that school districts would spend 65 percent of their budgets in classrooms—an idea that is gaining attention in other states as well. (“Group’s ‘65 Percent Solution’ Gains Traction, GOP Friends,” Oct. 12, 2005.)
Teachers: Gov. Perdue said he wants lawmakers to pass a 4 percent across-the-board raise for teachers, with more than half of teachers receiving a 7 percent raise.
“As long as the people trust me to be their governor, our Georgia teachers will remain the highest-paid teachers in the Southeast,” he declared. In the 2003-04 school year, teachers earned on average $45,848, compared with the national average of $46,597.
In another effort to reach out to teachers, the governor proposed spending $10 million to give each teacher in the state a “classroom gift card” worth $100 toward supplies.
He also pointed to budget proposals to spend $163 million to reduce class sizes and to approve $447 million in bonds for classroom construction, equipment, and 1,000 new school buses.
Dropouts: Noting that 40 percent of Georgia’s high school students drop out before earning their diplomas, Gov. Perdue said he wants to spend $23 million in fiscal 2007 to raise graduation rates. He called, for example, for putting a “completion counselor” in every high school, “with the sole purpose of working individually with students to encourage them to complete their education.”