Gubernatorial hopeful Stacey Abrams hosted a teleconference with Georgia educators Monday regarding the scope of her education plan. Abrams, who has titled her comprehensive education plan “Cradle to Career,” said she plans to dial back the more than $100 million set aside for private school vouchers while being steadfast on the ideas of smaller class sizes, more school counselors, protecting pensions, increasing teacher pay and the expansion of early childhood education.
“It’s in our Constitution that Georgia is responsible for the education of our children through our public education system,” Abrams said. “We cannot do that when we are diverting $100 million a year to private education through backdoor vouchers called Student Scholarship Organizations.
“As Georgia’s Public Education Governor, I will not only keep my door open for Georgia’s educators, I will partner with teachers, parents, and administrators in every region of our state to ensure that our schools are fully-funded, our teachers are well-compensated, and our children can thrive no matter their zip code or family income,” Stacey Abrams continued during the conference call. “I am the only candidate in this race with a proven track record of listening to our teachers and fighting for public school resources.”
Meanwhile, Republican counterpart Brian Kemp said he would like to raise the compensation each teacher receives by 5 percent at a cost of $600 million.
“I want to expand pre-K, I want to protect the Hope Scholarship,” Kemp said at a campaign stop in Dawsonville Monday. “I want to have less testing, fewer state mandates, more local control when it comes to education … giving our hardworking teachers a pay raise, lowering taxes and letting them teach our children. … They know what to do in their local community a lot better than some bureaucrat in the state government or the federal government does.”
Many leaders, including Governor Nathan Deal, wanted to overhaul the Quality Basic Education Act of 1985 that stipulated the manner which public money would be spent in each public school district. No politician has actively made a successful effort to dismantle or overhaul QBE.
“I understand the argument about that (diverting revenue), but that argument was also being made before QBE was fully funded [the Legislature approved full funding this year for the first time since 2003] and also paying our teachers correctly, so we’re going to do any and all to allow to have school choice but also support public education because it’s good for parents to have options to do the best for their child, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Kemp said.
Prior to Kemp’s announcement, the Georgia Association of Educators formally endorsed Abrams for governor. In a statement, GAE President Charlotte Booker highlighted Abrams’ tenure in the state Legislature.
“GAE believes that Abrams’ history and voting record as a state representative and then minority leader in the Georgia House of Representatives, is a solid indicator of what she will continue to do as governor,” Booker said. “It shows that she is a staunch supporter of public education.”
The first televised debate between Abrams and Kemp is Oct. 23.