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16 Comments

  1. 1

    Anyone But J Max

    A Democrat will not win this seat until it is redistricted. HD 80 is an amped up Republican majority.

  2. 2

    Eddie E.

    Maybe, but why elect one of the three people on the ballot who will become no-seniority functionaries for the party that has put Georgia in LAST PLACE in all measures of Civilization?
    Which of the Candidates on the Ballot would support Independent Commissions (as just approved by the Supreme Court) to provide FAIR districts for Georgia?

  3. 3

    City-Weary

    Well, I was all set to vote for Taylor Bennett until the writer mentioned the school funding. Paying more money to schools is not the answer to improving education…in fact the Atlanta city schools have been spending much more per student than the rest of the metro area and look at their performance vs other districts. Throwing money at the problem simply isn’t working.

  4. 4

    Thomas Porter

    Simply curious: Does anyone know the ratio of Democrats/Republicans in District 80? In Brookhaven? Not a leading question, I’ve looked and simply can’t find the answer. Thanks.

  5. 5

    Heather

    Ongoing austerity cuts have reduced school funding by over eight billion dollars since 2003 in Georgia. Money has been thrown but not towards public schools.

  6. 6

    Lil Woolf

    @City-Weary: Reducing class sizes, paying teachers their proper salaries and restoring art and music to classrooms is essential to improving education for our children. Taylor is our best hope for at least beginning to provide us with hope that we won’t forever be at the bottom of the list.

  7. 7

    Eddie E.

    Lil,
    That stuff works in the real world (even in most other Civilized countries) but it doesn’t work in republican mythology.
    The only thing that works there is more pain, bigger classes and starving teachers, like we had back in the 1800s!

  8. 8

    Taylor Bennett

    @City-Weary I agree with your position that throwing money at a problem is not a solution. But that’s an oversimplification of what we’re dealing with in public education. Atlanta City Schools spend more money for a variety of reasons, from operating costs to free/reduced lunch to a need more additional resources based on school size and student population. The problem we have in Georgia is that we fund education so far below the state’s own funding formula that we see high class sizes, teacher furloughs, and lost instructional days. We have to spend our money in the right places and on the right things. I believe we can work to spend more efficiently, but at the end of the day we have to provide salaries for enough quality teachers to educate our children. Class sizes and instructional days are two things that correlate VERY strongly with student achievement. Ensuring that we have small enough classes and the full 180-day calendar requires enough teachers and adequate resources to do the job. We must end teacher furloughs to get those two issues under control while working to reduce wasteful spending. Solving the issues associated with funding and waste are not mutually exclusive, and we can work together to do both simultaneously.

  9. 9

    Daniel H

    All these Democrats claiming not enough money is spent on Education Funding? 30-45% of every years School Boatd budget goes to thw teacher’s union pensions.

    The Republican majority in HD80 will never elect a Democrat that puts teachers union above
    students or minimum wage increases Won’t happen.

  10. 10

    FM

    Good luck with the election…we need your leadership now.

  11. 11

    Taylor Bennett

    Daniel, we aren’t looking to put any one group above another. I think that we can all agree that we need to pay our quality teachers quality salaries. Just as we can all agree that local input into how our public schools operate is absolutely essential to best educating the children in each and every school district. The fact of the matter isn’t that we need to spend more money for the sake of spending more money, it’s that we have to identify what’s a good investment. For me, hiring, training, and retaining our best teachers is a good investment. Making sure that our children have safe, clean, and well-kept schools to learn in is a good investment. Thinking creatively about how we can make our students more competitive as they enter the “real world” is a phenomenal investment. This isn’t about teachers’ unions or charter schools or any one issue. It’s about developing a comprehensive, efficient way of educating our kids to make sure that they can enter the workforce and help us build our economy while they build their lives.

    It’s also about making sure that we have a working formula for funding our schools. I’m all for revisiting our QBE to make sure that it’s the most efficient way of doing so. But we have to remember that we spend money lots of other places too, and that waste exists there as well. We need to make sure that corporations receiving massive tax breaks are actually creating the jobs they promise. We need to make sure that state agencies aren’t allowing retirees to double-dip and earn two incomes for performing one job. We need to improve transparency and eliminate corruption or misuse of public funds. We need to examine how we spend your tax dollars in absolutely every instance. We owe that to you and every other hard-working, tax-paying Georgian, and I hope to do so as your state representative.

  12. 12

    Taylor Bennett

    Thomas,

    The district supported Michelle Nunn at 47% last year. But I believe that this district isn’t looking so much for ideological leadership as practical, accountable, and transparent leadership. I am a Democrat, but I believe in strong schools, a robust economy, a fantastic environment for small businesses with simpler, smarter regulations, and an investment in transportation and transit as essential to maintain our district and our state’s growth. I think that the vast majority of voters tend to agree with me. We might not always see eye-to-eye on the very best way to achieve those goals, but I will be a conduit for the people of my district as a representative. I will solicit all input and opinions from any constituent that has one, and I will be accountable for those decisions. I’m running to help move this district and this state forward, not to be a backbencher in a complacent party or a die-hard adherent to an obstructionist philosophy of government. I hope that you or any other interested voters feel free to reach out to me via my website with any additional questions you may have, as I’m fully prepared to EARN your support.

    http://www.taylorbennett.org

  13. 13

    Eddie E.

    Daniel,
    What is the name of this ‘teacher’s union’?

  14. 14

    City-Weary

    Yes, we have to spend money on the right things, but also we have to improve the quality of education overall — in terms of the curriculum, the commitment, the parental involvement and a whole host of other things that really don’t have to do with budgetary line items. I find it interesting that private schools pay teachers significantly less that public schools, on average, yet no one seems too concerned about that when considering sending their kid to private school. As for class sizes — odd that this doesn’t seem to come up when our city approves new developments that add school-aged children to the district. Aren’t there a lot of kids in trailer classrooms these days? As for instructional days — it seems like homeschoolers do pretty well on SATs and such, but I seriously doubt they are really racking up 180 instructional days a year even though GA law requires it (albeit only 4.5 hours per day which seems less than a public school day). BTW I am not a home school advocate, I’m actually a proponent of public education.

    Since I don’t have kids in the system, most of my impressions about education come directly from 2 people close to me who have spent their careers in local public education — a relative who is an administrator of a public school in metro ATL, the other a good friend and 20-year instructor at a couple of different schools in DeKalb. Even they state that more money isn’t the solution. I would like legislators to be more courageous and make difficult decisions about the absolute best ways to fund education, instead of just “more money,” “higher salaries,” “better ratios” etc.

  15. 15

    Taylor Bennett

    It sounds like we believe in a lot of the same things. If you refer to my previous comment, I agree that we have to spend our money on the right things, the right ways. To a few of your points, part of the reason that we have so many kids in trailers is inadequate funding. You may be surprised to know that in the last round of SPLOST funding, Cross Keys High School received tens of millions of dollars less than Chamblee Charter did. Not coincidentally, there are hundreds of children in trailers at Cross Keys, rather than in an outstanding caliber facility like Chamblee. Also, a school district grows as a community grows, which necessitates investments to keep class sizes down. We don’t have the same degree of choice in adding children to the district (if they live here, we need to provide them with a quality education) as we do in making sure that we have hired enough well-trained, quality teachers to lead those classrooms.

    As for private schools, let’s not forget that those schools enjoy a luxury that public schools don’t… They can be selective. They know exactly how much each student will cost to educate, and their tuition rates reflect that. Private schools also pull their student bodies predominantly from higher-income homes. Those students are much more likely to read at or above grade level, be proficient in math for their age, and come from stable households with the ability to invest above and beyond in their child’s education. But those students will enter the workplace as a substantial minority to public school students, and in order for Georgia to grow and thrive economically, our public school system has to do a better job making sure each child can be competitive. Let’s also not forget that class sizes and student-teacher ratios aren’t nearly the issue for private schools as they are for public schools. They’re under no obligation to educate anyone. Our job as a state is to provide EVERYONE with a quality education and start at life.

    Finally, home schooling is a perfectly valuable option for some parents and students, but let’s not forget that they often enjoy a 1-1 student to teacher ratio. Their successes directly support the argument that the individualized attention afforded by smaller class sizes leads to better educational outcomes. That being said, the vast majority of parents in our district and in our state don’t have the luxury to stay home to educate their kids. That’s part of our state’s commitment to public education as one of the most essential, basic services our government provides.

    As you can see above, I’m not advocating for a spend-spend-spend philosophy. I’m advocating for figuring out what works and what doesn’t. I will support any and all reasonable measure to improve our curriculum, to increase parental involvement, to build a better relationship between our schools and our communities, and demonstrate the highest level of commitment to our public schools. But as long as long as those students are packed into trailers in Cross Keys, as long as kids in our classrooms are losing opportunities to participate in music, or the arts, or athletics, and as long as Georgia sits at the bottom of the nation by nearly every educational metric, I will be a staunch advocate for putting your valuable tax dollars to the best use possible as we look to improve our public education system. I hope this helps you further understand my positions, and I hope you’ll consider supporting me on Tuesday.

  16. 16

    City-Weary

    Thanks for your thoughtful reply. You made some good points. Now what can we do about that EV $200 fee? 🙂

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