New Georgia Funding Organization Speaks Out

Last Updated: October 30, 2009

This article appeared in the October 2009 Rural Policy Matters.
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The new coalition working for school finance reform in Georgia has issued a comprehensive report, "The Unfilled Promise to Georgia's Children," highlighting the needs of students across the state and making recommendations for systemic change to the school finance system.
The Georgia School Funding Association (GSFA) is the successor to the Coalition for Adequate School Funding in Georgia, which brought a school finance lawsuit against the state, but later withdrew it after a series of attempts by the state to thwart it.
The 102-page report details the legal requirements and legislative mechanisms for school funding in the state. It also documents student achievement levels in each school district.
In Georgia, 53% of students are eligible for free or reduced-price meals, and many districts have a much higher percentage of eligible students. The majority of students in the state who receive free or reduced-price meals are members of minority groups, with the Hispanic and Latino population growing at one of the fastest rates in the country.
The report points out that many of the poorest students live in districts least able to afford the extra supports students need to succeed. It also demonstrates the connection between low rates of student achievement and low per pupil expenditures, a condition created by chronic underfunding, overreliance on local property wealth, and continued cuts by the state to an already lean education budget.
Joseph Martin of GSFA, author of the report says, "The wording of this document is blunt, but the problems are severe and growing worse. The State cannot be allowed to neglect its responsibility to our schools any longer. This is a tragedy for many children and our state as a whole."
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Read more from the October 2009 Rural Policy Matters.