Wednesday's guest on the “Mornings unPHILtered” show was current Georgia State School Superintendent Kathy Cox. She said she is running again to finish what she started. Cox said that when she came into office, Georgia's curriculum standards were set very low.
Cox earned Bachelors and Masters degrees from Emory University in Atlanta. Cox also served two terms in the Georgia State House of Representatives. In her second term as superintendent, she told host Phil Boyum she has visited some 700 schools throughout Georgia.
Cox said when she saw how schools were performing, she decided Georgia needed to ramp it up. Cox said her office examined what other successful school systems were doing, and from that she developed the Georgia Performance Standards.
Cox said that in the past, teachers at different grade levels would re-teach the same concepts. Now, Cox said, they are teaching the concepts in enough detail at one grade level to make sure that the students have actually mastered the subject.
Cox said the state graduation rate is now 79 percent, and she thinks it can get much higher.
She said that she is very proud of the Georgia Virtual School Program, which allows students in smaller school systems to actually take classes the system is not able to offer on campus.
Cox said elementary school students are a lot smarter than we give them credit for and are capable of studying for a greater period of time than past students. Cox said the younger children should get the majority of their physical exercise after school when they get home.
About testing, Cox said a student shouldn't be judged fully based on a single grade earned on a single test given on a single day. On the other hand, she said the state must guarantee that students across the state are all getting a good quality education.
Cox said those students from both the smallest and largest school systems must be able to display the same skills. She stated that news reports that adults had manipulated the students test scores is a very disturbing, adding that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions.
Cox shared that Gov. Sonny Perdue said recently that this is the worst financial climate the state has seen in a long time. This year alone the state is unable to contribute nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars that it had previously contributed.
The state legislature, Cox said, is doing its best to make only the cuts that won't have dire consequences. Asked about alternative solutions to regular high school enrollments, she mentioned the new Text Book Bill being considered in the Georgia Legislature.
Cox said the bill that would allow digital textbooks to be purchased instead of using printed versions. Whereas publishers had resisted this idea before, they have seen the ways that they can profit from the use of electronic media and are actively pushing the concepts.
Cox said the state has quadrupled the number of charter schools on her watch, and the development of quality charter schools. She said she also doesn't blame school systems that are questioning the constitutionality of state funding of charter schools.
“Mornings unPHILtered” airs live Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. on statesboroherald.com and also simulcast on WWNS-AM 1240 on the radio. You also can listen anytime at BoroLive.com on statesboroherald.com