Governor Deal signs controversial education bill, 9 others - CBS46 News

Governor Deal signs controversial education bill, 9 others

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

Gov. Nathan Deal, joined by key members of the Georgia General Assembly, signed ten education bills at the State Capitol on Thursday.

One of the bills is HB 338, the controversial bill regarding low performing schools. The "Campus Carry" bill (HB 280) is not included.

Below is a summary of each bill in ascending order, along with links to their full text PDFs and sponsors.

(*HC = Georgia State house committee. SC = Georgia State senate committee.)


HB 37 - Committees Involved - HC: Higher Education; SC: Higher Education

This house bill is about student sanctuary status on college campuses--particularly addressing "DREAMers" at private universities. The bill states that "postsecondary institutions in [Georgia] shall not adopt sanctuary policies," and those that do "shall be subject to the withholding of state funding."

Many private universities across the nation have opposed federal policies regarding immigration, from Emory University announcing it would provide financial aid to DACA students to Tufts University actively recruiting undocumented students and providing financial aid. (Emory University law students also criticized Atlanta Immigration Court judges--Georgia being the worst state in America for immigrants seeking asylum status--for being unethical regarding civil immigration litigation cases).

READ MORE: SPLC: Atlanta court judges prejudice, unfair in immigration cases

Georgia campus sanctuary bill

An overflow crowd gathers to hear the discussion about House Bill 37 during a meeting of the House Committee on Higher Education Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, in Atlanta. Under the bill, private colleges that don't cooperate with federal immigration authorities would lose state funding for scholarships and research. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Emory University benefits from federal agencies like the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which usually awards schools large grants (to extend biomedical research to find new cures and more effective disease treatment). Although private universities don't directly receive federal funding in the same way public universities do, federal agencies often contribute indirectly through grants and fellowships.

HB 139 - Committees Involved - HC: Education; SC: Education and Youth

This house bill is about "additional pathways to leadership," regarding diversions from stringent standards set by the State Board of Education. Basically, local school systems, charter schools, college and career academies are given a bit more leeway in constructing their curricula.

The individual institutions would essentially point out current state models and content standards within programs of study (such as finance, business, public administration, science and technology) and submit a nontraditional training and educational route that's currently not approved, but could potentially result in those same students learning more effectively in becoming tomorrow's "leaders." The institutions would then submit them for consideration to the State Board of Education.

The bill states that "the Department of Education shall review and recommend approval or denial of any new pathway to the State Board of Education within 90 days of submission." In other words, the Department of Education would have a three-month deadline to decide whether a particular "pathway to leadership" is acceptable to be used within schools that award Georgia certificates of academic success (such as high school diplomas).

HB 198 - Committees Involved - HC: Education; SC: Education and Youth

This house bill is on educating parents of middle and high school school students about vaccinations. It mandates that local school systems consistently provide information to parents and guardians on currently available vaccines.

RELATED: Georgia leads nation in vaccination rates despite opposition movement

RELATED: Vaccination controversy returns to state Capitol

It's geared toward 6th to 12th grades as a way of encouraging parents without mandating. (Certain vaccines are required for enrollment in Georgia schools, but school districts don't mandate that students have every vaccine currently available.)

The Department of Public Health is also working with the Department of Education to make information about diseases--like meningitis and influenza--readily available on its website, along with continually updated sources for additional information.

HB 224 - Committees Involved - HC: Education; SC: Education and Youth

This house bill addresses school aged "military kids," who often have to transfer schools because their parents are constantly relocated.

A "military kid" or "military student" is a school aged child of a military service member who lives on a military base or off-base in military housing. The bill states that beginning in school year 2017-2018, a military student in Georgia will be allowed to attend any public school within the school system that's local to the base where the student lives.

The parent will still have to pay for transportation, but if the school has space for additional enrollment, they are legally mandated to let the child attend. (The bill also says school systems local to military bases are required to establish a universal, streamlined transferring process for such students and notify parents of their child's schooling options a year in advance.)

HB 237 - Committees Involved - HC: Ways & Means; SC: Finance

This house bill allows Georgia's Public Education Innovation Fund Foundation to receive private donations for grants to improve schools. It essentially creates a new, taxpayer funded source of revenue--streamed through a foundation run by the Governor's office--that's meant to help schools (particularly low performing schools) in the form of financial assistance through tax credits.

The bill states that the commissioner will allot such tax credits, which are on a first come, first served basis.

HB 338 - Committees Involved - HC: Education; SC: Education and Youth

This house bill is about Georgia's "school turnaround" bill. It creates a new job title of “chief turnaround officer” who reports directly to the state board of education. That person will appoint “coaches” to work alongside the school districts of chronically failing schools to identify what’s not working, establish improvement plans and track progress.

RELATED: Georgia will use chief turnaround officer to help improve failing schools

RELATED: Turnaround plan approved for Atlanta Public Schools

Under the new law, failing schools will have three years to boost grades or risk termination of school staff, a takeover by a nonprofit manager, conversion to a charter school and a requirement to bus children to higher-performing schools.

The increased level of local control is what made the bill so popular with Democrats and school leaders.

The bill addresses some external factors that affect student performance, and it's considered controversial because the solution to fix failing schools isn't always as direct as firing and replacing teachers.

Parents of students enrolled in post-deadline failing schools would be given the option to re-enroll their children at the newly converted charter school or send their children to another school.

HB 430 - Committees Involved - HC: Education; SC: Education and Youth

This house bill is about charter schools, from establishing a code of ethics and principles in how the state treats them to setting up a steady grant program that would help these schools maintain their facilities.

It states that "the State Board of Education and the State Charter Schools Commission shall jointly establish a code of principles and standards of charter school authorizing to guide local boards of education." Some of the areas the code of principles would address are charter school autonomy in school governance, standards for charter school success, school accountability regarding the academic success of individual students and oversight of public funds.

HB 437 - Committees Involved - HC: Education; SC: Education and Youth

This house bill is about recreating the Agricultural Education Advisory Commission, which was abolished by operation of law in December 2016.


SB 186 - Committees Involved - HC: Higher Education; SC: Education and Youth

This senate bill is about Georgia's HOPE scholarship and its requirements for student eligibility.

The Helping Outstanding Pupils Educationally (HOPE) initiative consists of six programs: the HOPE scholarship, the HOPE grant, the Zell Miller scholarship, the Zell Miller Grant, the HOPE GED grant and the Strategic Industries Workforce Development Grant.

The most commonly referenced programs are the HOPE scholarship and grant, which are merit-based awards offered to high school students hoping to attend a Georgia college or university and receive an undergraduate degree. (To receive a HOPE scholarship, the student must graduate with a minimum 3.0 grade point average and maintain that cumulative minimum at their postsecondary school. HOPE grants are essentially the same, but the minimum is a 2.0 GPA.)

RELATED: New report says HOPE scholarship is in danger of going broke in 12 years

RELATED: HOPE scholarship could run out of money by 2028

Along with clarifying language in HOPE scholarship eligibility, the bill states that students who've earned a high school diploma through certain dual credit coursework are also eligible for a HOPE grant toward an associate degree.

SB 211 - Committees Involved - HC: Education; SC: Education and Youth

This senate bill is about tests kindergarten to high school students have to pass--particularly in reading and mathematics--in order to move up a grade. It addresses traditional methods of student academic success, and could potentially reduce the number of tests that students have to take.

Public schools are required to take nationally-recognized milestone tests that essentially make sure all students are on the same page regarding minimum requirements in education across the country. The End of Course Tests (EOCTs) for middle schoolers, which must be passed in order to move up a grade, are one example. (Tests that determine academic prowess for high schoolers--such as the ACT and SAT--are not required to graduate from high school, and can be done poorly on but not necessarily "failed.")

It's considered controversial because it could potentially lead to lower standards for graduating students and leaving them underprepared for universities or trade schools.

Story written by CBS46 Digital Content Producer Chris Price.

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