Education spending has increased at a breakneck pace in Georgia over the past decade, outpacing inflation substantially. Since 1994 per-student spending has more than doubled, representing an increase in spending each year of nearly 10 percent. In 2007 per-student spending exceeded $10,000 for the first time in Georgia’s history.
But despite the high level of spending, Georgia was ranked 48th among the states in high school graduation rates in 2007. That is exactly where the state ranked in 2000. In some of the intervening years, Georgia dropped to 50th, managing to beat out only the District of Columbia and avoid the dishonorable title of “worst in the nation.” State SAT scores have remained stagnant for years in Georgia, with rankings hovering painfully close to 50th. While that trend seems to have changed in 2007, a positive thing no doubt, time will tell whether the improvement is based in real academic achievement or a redesigned exam.
These facts point to a sobering reality that demands our attention: Every four years a generation of students in failing schools graduates unprepared for higher education or the work force, if they graduate at all. To these students, the lack of a quality education can and likely will have devastating results. And requiring students to be subjects in a protracted experiment in education reform seems inhumane at the very least.
Fortunately, Gov. Sonny Perdue and the General Assembly have recognized the plight of these students and have championed legislation to give them hope through education choice.