Previous Governors have had task forces and commissions on education. I want this one to be different from some of the others. I want this one to raise our aspirations. I don’t want to tear down our educational system. I want to work together to improve it. I want business folks to sit down with educators and let them reason together. I don’t want front-line educators to be excluded.
Now let me set the charge to the members of the Education Finance task force. This is a big job, and an important job. It is not going to be easy. I want to publicly set the charge, and I want all of you in attendance to be witnesses—so the task force members cannot say they did not know what to expect.
You’re all familiar with QBE. We’ve had the QBE funding formula in place for almost 20 years now. At let me tell you, Quality Basic Education was a great step forward for
Georgia when it passed.
But 20 years later, BASIC is not good enough. Georgians expect more. Georgia taxpayers spend a lot of money on education – more than half our state budget.
And our taxpayers rightly expect a high return on their investment.
They expect excellence for their children—just like you do for your students and for your own children. And just like Mary and I expected for our children.
It is time to change the way we think about financing education. And I mean right down to the level of our vocabulary.
We need to stop saying “basic.” When you aspire for basic, you are either going to get there or fall just short. We should aspire to excellence.
We need to stop talking about education funding and start talking about education investing. “Funding” sounds like money spent, money gone. “Investing” reminds us to focus on results.
We need to think in terms of investing for education excellence. We need to think in terms of tying every dollar spent to student achievement. Because I guarantee you, that is how taxpayers think.
Student achievement is why taxpayers give us their hard earned money for our schools. They expect a high return on their investment.
I want to publicly thank the chair of this task force, Dean Alford, for taking on this important charge.
Task force members, I ask you to consider 2 things:
1. What can we do to bolster QBE in the short run? QBE is the horse we have to ride for now. I want interim recommendations for improvement.
2. And that’s the second task. I want recommendations on what is the best possible formula for investing in education excellence. I believe the hallmarks would be a formula that is transparent, simple, and ensures all children have access to an excellent education.
This won’t be a quick, simple or easy process. But it will be a wide-reaching process. Listening to front line educators has been a hallmark of my administration.
Listening has served me well and it will serve the task force well. I ask you to hold a series of listening sessions to hear from folks on the front lines about how we can best invest in educational excellence.
I am serious about using this task force move us from settling for “basic” to demanding “excellence” … and from an attitude of “funding” to a mindset of investing in education excellence.
As I said at the beginning, this is a big job, a hard job. It will not be easy and it may take a long time to get it right.