Policy / Educational Mobility /
Policy

Educational Mobility

A strong early start and access to college and career are fundamental to building a state where every family has the freedom and opportunity to thrive. As Georgia’s next governor, I will prioritize access to childcare and education for all children — no matter who they are or where they live. 

Our children deserve support from cradle to career, which begins with a high-quality education that gives them opportunities to reach their dreams. Georgia has the resources to expand access to childcare and Pre-K, fully fund education and expand HOPE grants, but those currently in power refuse to do the right thing. 

We are ready to imagine more for our children than a basic education, and we are ready to elect leaders committed to making excellence a reality for all Georgians.

Teachers

Across the state, we are letting our children down by not fully supporting public education and our educators.  Educators are feeling the pressures of growing workloads, insufficient support and inadequate compensation. School administrators and teachers grapple with increasing teacher vacancies in teaching positions with no end in sight. 

When educators are highly valued and fairly compensated for their commitment to education, academic outcomes improve, our children are better served. Retaining educators, increases student engagement and builds parental trust and positive rapport between students and teachers. We must better serve students by prioritizing their education and investing in educators, administrators, students and support staff, and we can do it all without raising taxes.

  • Make Georgia a leader in teacher pay.
    Low wages force teachers to drop out of the profession or leave the state, and fewer teachers are entering the profession due to the long-term lack of financial growth. As governor, I will:
    • Raise the statewide minimum teacher pay. Increase the state base salary for teachers from $39,092 to $50,000.
    • Raise the current average teacher pay from $62,500 to $73,500. This move alone will shift Georgia from 21st in the nation in teacher salaries to the top 10.
    • Support living wages and advancement for ESPs. Education support professionals (ESPs) will receive a living wage and aid in advancement in the education workforce.
  • Support kids by strengthening school-parent partnerships
    No teacher or school should live in fear of sanctions for teaching an accurate history or having meaningful class dialogue. As governor, I will:
    • Oppose legislation that drives a wedge between parents and teachers. Schools and parents work together in partnership and share a common interest in growing and educating children.
    • Overturn legislation that devalues teachers’ professional judgment and expertise as educators.
  • Increase the number of teachers entering the profession:
    Georgia has a teacher recruitment crisis. The number of college students choosing to teach has dropped significantly with only 3,800 people completing a teaching degree in Georgia in 2019. We need long-term, meaningful investments in teachers and their recruitment and retention to get the best results for students. As governor, I will:
    • Create a rural teacher pipeline project. Creating and investing in a Teaching Fellowship model, forming partnerships with state teaching colleges and universities and districts to recruit high-performing college students to teach in rural areas for four years in exchange for free college tuition.
    • Creating partner schools with state colleges and universities to serve as centers of teacher education, recruitment and education innovation all over the state. 
    • Scaling “grow your own" models that help interested paraprofessionals pursue teaching. By elevating alternative certification programs like the Relay Graduate School of Education and GaTAPP, we can help people gain their teaching certification while they work. Some of these programs are free or low-cost when combining AmeriCorps awards and the federal TEACH grant.
    • Developing new teacher preparation programs to expand access to teaching. Support innovative approaches to teacher preparation in coordination with our state universities and technical colleges and HBCUs and HSIs, including teaching apprenticeships, that will allow districts to develop and retain their own educators.

Early Childhood Education

Georgia’s children and their families always come first. To meet this mission, we must ensure our children have the resources and support they need from cradle to career. The pandemic exposed how vital and broken our childcare system can be. Too many lack access to affordable childcare or reliable Pre-K. 

We must once again prioritize early childhood education in Georgia. Our state deserves a governor who is willing to tackle these issues head-on and not delay action. We must better serve children by prioritizing access to quality early childhood education and care options, and we can do it all without raising taxes.

  • Make quality childcare affordable for low-income families.
    Typically, CAPS pays a portion of childcare costs for families whose childcare expenses exceed 10 percent of a family’s income. However, Georgia is only serving about 27% of CAPS-eligible children under the age of six. As governor, I will:
    • Add 30,000 permanent slots to CAPS. 
    • Increase funding for CAPS, the childcare assistance program, available for infants and toddlers in all childcare settings.
  • Increase and support quality providers in Georgia.
    • Invest $10 million in small business financing programs to help small childcare centers get started and thrive.
    • Develop a childcare center fund for renovation and repair is integral to children’s safety, small childcare business’ survival and rural and disadvantaged communities’ access to childcare. 
  • Increase the supply of high-quality childcare.
    • Expand tax credits for childcare workers to incentivize people to enter and stay in early childhood education.
    • Increase grants and bonuses for childcare professionals who seek further certifications, especially in hard to staff areas.
  • Achieve Universal Pre-K in Georgia.
    • Invest in our effective and in-demand Georgia Pre-K program so it is truly universal and accessible to all families that want to participate.
  • Increase Paid Parental Leave. 
    Providing new parents with paid time off to care for newborn or recently adopted children contributes to healthy development, improves maternal health and enhances families’ economic security. As governor, I will:
    • Increase paid parental leave from 3 weeks to 3 months for state employees to better support our employees and set an example for area businesses. Currently, Georgia’s state employees are eligible for only up to three weeks (120 hours) of paid parental leave per year after the birth or adoption of a child.
  • Address childcare Deserts and Overall childcare Costs. 
    • Conduct a statewide analysis to determine where childcare is unavailable and how the state can support lowering childcare costs for everyone. 
    • Direct resources to areas and issues that need it most.

Fund, Protect and Support Students

Education is one of the strongest predictors of economic success — both for individuals and for the state’s economy. Georgia ranks 34th in the nation for preschool and K-12 education. Yet, the current governor has failed to lead on education before and during the pandemic. 

Georgia must reverse the impact of this negligence by investing in the needs of the whole child from cradle to career — and our investment must extend beyond the walls of a classroom to meet the needs of the whole child. As Governor I will: 

  • Address Funding Disparities
    Georgia’s education funding formula has not been revised to meet the changing needs of students, families and communities. Georgia must adopt a comprehensive education funding formula that not only pays our teachers well but addresses new realities. Georgia’s students and educators need better, to remain competitive. As governor, I will: 
    • Reestablish former Governor Deal’s Education Reform Commission. Specifically address school funding and create suggestions and plans to address funding recommendations as it relates to rural  disparities, school counselor and nurse access, transportation and districts that serve a significant portion of economically disadvantaged student populations.
    • Fully Fund Georgia’s Quality Basic Education Formula. Adopt a comprehensive education funding formula and provide students with the resources they need to learn and succeed, including access to enriching experiences, qualified staff, better access to counselors and other supports, necessary interventions and much more.
    • Address the Correlation Between Poverty and Poor Educational Outcomes. Invest in student transportation to ensure safety, provide resources for crucial positions like nurses and substitute teachers and invest in technology to enable our children to compete in the 21st Century. 
    • Oppose Private School Voucher Programs. Public dollars should go to public schools. I will oppose private school tax credits and vouchers.
  • Protect and Support Students
    The last three years have been a tumultuous time in our country with the COVID 19 pandemic and overall uncertainty. Students are feeling this pressure as well and need our support. As governor, I will: 
    • Pay for Greater Access to Mental Health Services. Better coordinate using medicaid funds for in school mental health support, allowing students to access counseling at no cost to schools. 
    • Oppose any legislation that harms or increases the likelihood of harm to students. For example, according to the CDC, 35% of transgender students attempt suicide by the time they reach high school. Transgender and nonbinary youth who have access to a gender-affirming space at school – like a supportive sports team – are 25% less likely to attempt suicide over the course of a year.
    • Promote campus environments that are safe, secure and responsive. Repeal campus carry, provide greater training for campus police and encourage productive dialogue between law enforcement and our students to address their safety concerns. We will support survivors of sexual assault by working to identify gaps in protections, reporting processes and services. We will defend the rights of DREAMers as they pursue their educational goals.

Pathways to Career

All of Georgia’s students deserve access to a choice-filled life, including access to meaningful career opportunities. To meet this mission, we must ensure our students have the resources and support they need from cradle to career. 

Financial barriers should not prevent Georgia’s young people from higher education opportunities and access to good-paying jobs. We can not have successful communities without engaging and supporting young people as they enter college and their careers. Whether it be a four-year degree or a robust apprenticeship program, young Georgians deserve access to the post-secondary programs they need to accomplish their goals, thrive and help build Georgia's economic future. 

To ensure Georgia’s students are prepared to thrive in college and career, I will: 

  • Expand access to apprenticeships and eliminate tuition for technical colleges.
    The cost of higher learning is often inaccessible to students and by 2025, over half of the jobs in Georgia will require some form of post-secondary credential. As governor, I will:
    • Generate more than 20,000 additional apprenticeships. Work with technical colleges, small businesses and unions in fields ranging from building trades and construction to coding and healthcare.
    • Restore free technical college for all Georgians. Emphasize career-focused, hands-on training in trades and technical skills make lucrative career options accessible to more Georgians. Fund this vital program for all students, including those with less than a stellar GPA or favored major.
    • Ensure all school districts have access to career, technical and agricultural education (CTAE) programs. Use federal funds  to expose students to potential careers and can allow students to gain certification in certain fields. 
    • Maximize USDA funding to build students’ interest and high school programming in agriculture. Agriculture is the number one industry in Georgia and we must ensure the next generation of farmers are ready to supply our food and support our economy. Programs such as community gardens and more robust agricultural training in K-12 schools will ensure Georgia isa leader in agriculture.
  • Establish need-based aid for Georgians pursuing post-secondary education.
    Many of Georgia’s students do not have the support they need to complete or even start their post-secondary journey successfully. While Georgia recently created a need-based aid program, no funding has been allocated for this purpose.
    • Fund Georgia’s need-based financial aid program. Coordinate a fully-funded program with the Georgia Student Finance Authority to establish criteria and guidelines for participation. 
    • Expand college advising. Invest in college counselors at the high school level and scale innovative programming like the College Advising Corps program at area universities. We can ensure Georgia's students are better prepared to enter college or careers. 
    • Increase higher education opportunities for Georgians experiencing barriers. Support programs that expand access to foster youth, students of color, disadvantaged youth, first-generation college students, disabled students, DREAMers, adult learners, veterans and military families.
  • Fund pathways to career by expanding gaming to allow sports betting and casinos in Georgia. 
    • Pay for free technical college and the empty need-based financial aid program. Use funds from the $1.05 Billion lottery reserve. 
    • Support a constitutional amendment to allow sports gaming and casinos in Georgia, as a permanent source of revenue to underwrite broader access to education. Studies project the potential for billions in economic impact, funds that will not only finance our efforts to replenish and expand the HOPE scholarship but will also provide new economic opportunities for Georgia that can grow jobs and make our economy stronger for everyone.
Policy / Educational Mobility /
Stacey walking with two young supporters
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